February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: comics

Litquake Appearance on October 18

I'll be rambling on about manga or my beloved TRS-80. I probably won't be funny.


On October 18, a Friday, I’ll be participating for the first time as part of Litquake, the big annual literary festival here in San Francisco. The event is being held at the Cartoon Art Museum downtown. It starts at 7pm and has a suggested donation of between 5 and 10 bucks.

The event is titled “Comics on Comix,” but I was told in advance, when I was invited to participate, that the fact that I am not a standup comic is fine. I was also told I don’t have to talk about comics, that it’s OK to talk, more broadly, about science fiction. I’m still sorting out what my spiel will be about. Right now the two top plans are: (1) things I learned about manga in Japan, a snapshot of manga at the height of its recent U.S. popularity, or (2) a memoir-y cultural map of science fiction touchstones in my hometown, a kind of proto–geek culture thing, a snapshot of that world circa 1979. Either way, the talk won’t be directly related to Disquiet and ambient music, but if I do the manga idea, there will be material about visual representations of sound, and if I go the 1979 route, there will be much reminiscing about my TRS-80.

That Friday we’re up against Mary Gaitskill, Anne Perry, and T.C. Boyle, among other luminaries, but if you can make it, that would be great. My fellow event participants are Joe Klocek, Michael Capozzola, Karen Macklin, Tom Smith, and Mike Spiegelman. Should be a lot of fun.

More on the event at litquake.org.

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Anime Sound Design Remix (MP3)

A glitchy tribute to sublime weirdness by Montréal's johnny_ripper


The artist who goes by johnny_ripper on SoundCloud refers to one of his latest tracks, “Cat Soup,” as a “love letter” to the Japanese animator Masaaki Yuasa. Ripper goes on to explain, “95% of this song is music and sounds from the movie *Cat Soup*,” a decade-old Japanese anime that Yuasa created. The anime itself, an abstract and psychedlic journey into sublime weirdness (still image above), had little in the way of score (at least in its first third, which is shown streaming below), depending instead on much in the way of sound desgin elements like wind chimes (see screen shot below), insects, and other everyday noises — as well as on the unintelligible voices of massive spiritual forces and strange beasts.


Ripper has taken these sounds and managed to both keep them recognizable from the source material, and yet construct from them a jittery, glitchy instrumental pop song that captures the original film’s more cheerful aspects.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/johnny_ripper. The musician is based in Montréal, Canada. More from him at twitter.com/johnny_ripper and johnnyripper.bandcamp.com.

Here, for reference, is the opening part of the Cat Soup, which appears to be much more oriented toward sound design than score, though Yutoro Teshikai has a credit for music:

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More on Disquiet.com at HeroesCon

Interview with Craig Fischer and Ben Towle at Comics Reporter


Major thanks to Craig Fischer and Ben Towle for spending some time this coming weekend during their Saturday, June 8, HeroesCon panel discussion on music and comics to talk about some of my work. I’m honored by the attention, especially because Fischer is drawing connections between my Pulse! comics editing and the current weekly Disquiet Junto projects. They were interviewed today by Tom Spurgeon of comicsreporter.com.

SPURGEON: Tell me a little about choosing Marc Weidenbaum as a subject, and what you feel is important people know about Marc. He was such a big figure for a while because of the high-profile PULSE! gig, but I’m not sure we’re not exactly at that point in history where that’s forgotten a bit but hasn’t been pulled out and re-examined yet.

FISCHER: Yeah, Marc’s legacy as a PULSE! editor is formidable: he got people like Jessica Abel, Carol Swain, Jon Lewis, Jason Lutes, Peter Kuper, John Porcellino, Keith Knight, Dave Cooper, Tony Millionaire and so many others to do those great back-page “Flipside” comics on musical topics. Justin Green’s Musical Legends book (2004) is terrific, maybe my favorite Green work after Binky Brown.

Marc also gave a lot of younger alt-cartoonists their first opportunity in a national venue; Marc commissioned PULSE! work from Adrian Tomine after seeing the earliest self-published issues of Optic Nerve.

As much as I respect Marc’s PULSE! tenure, though, I’m going to spend as much if not more time in my presentation talking about Marc’s Disquiet website, and the ways his activities and commentaries on ambient, electronic and experimental music intersect with comics. One of Marc’s “Disquiet Junto” projects, for example, encouraged musicians to “do a sonic version” of the first strip (the template strip) in Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story. As part of our panel, we’ll stage a “performan

More on Fischer and Towle’s panel here: “Disquiet.com at HeroesCon.” The above comic, by R. Sikoryak, appeared in Pulse! magazine, where I edited the comics from 1992 through 2002, in the October 2001 issue.

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Disquiet.com at HeroesCon

A panel on comics and music, Saturday, June 8, in Charlotte, North Carolina


I’m excited to announce that this coming Saturday, June 7, at the HeroesCon comics convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a panel discussion about the intersection of comics and music will include a presentation about various projects of mine. (I will not be present. I’ll be at home in San Francisco.)

The “Mega Music Panel” is titled “And Brainiac on Xylophone: On the Intersection(s) of Comics and Music.” Panelist Craig Fischer will be discussing my decade of comics editing (1992 – 2002) at Pulse! magazine (where I commissioned original work by Jessica Abel, Justin Green, Megan Kelso, Barry McGee, Carol Swain, Adrian Tomine, and many others), the “Sketches of Sound” series I published on Disquiet.com from April 2010 through December 2011 (featuring Brian Biggs, Leela Corman, Dylan Horrocks, Minty Lewis, and Darko Macan, among others), and most recently the April 2012 Disquiet Junto project that was drawn, so to speak, from Matt Madden’s experimental comics book 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Also due for a mention, apparently, is an essay (“Home Recording in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” that I wrote for Jeff LeVine’s magazine Destroy All Comics (with a cover by Frank Santoro) back in 1996. There’s an index on this site of all the Pulse! comics I edited. (Not likely to be dived into during the HeroesCon panel is my half decade at the manga magazine Shonen Jump, where I was editor-in-chief, as well as at its sibling magazine Shojo Beat; I was a vice president at Viz Media, their publisher.)

Fischer, a professor in the English department at Appalachian State University, writes the “Monster Eats Critics” column at The Comics Journal (tcj.com). This is the official description of the HeroesCon panel:

Comics and music share a lot of affinities—both depend heavily on rhythm and intervals, and many cartoonists are also musicians—and cartoonist Ben Towle and blogger Craig Fischer have organized a diverse smorgasbord of a panel to explore these affinities. Ben will discuss the many ways cartoonists represent music visually, and will chair a wide-ranging panel on comics and music with Peter Bagge (Hate, Yeah!), Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree), Andrew Robinson and Vivek J. Tiwary (The Fifth Beatle). Craig will talk about the work of Marc Weidenbaum, an editor, teacher and musician who’s been combining comics and music in his creative projects for over two decades. And Charlotte avant-duo Ghost Trees (Brent Bagwell on saxophone, Seth Nanaa on drums) will participate in two live comics/music performances, including a soundtrack for Joe Lambert’s “Turtle, Keep It Steady,” a rock-n-roll retelling of the Tortoise-Hare fable!

More on the panel at heroesonline.com.

The image up top is one of my favorites from the Pulse! run, It’s a 1993 collaboration between Jon Lewis (True Swamp) and Jason Lutes (Berlin). More on the piece at Lewis’ website.

Subsequent coverage, and another archival comic, here: “More on Disquiet.com at HeroesCon.”

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Disquiet Junto 0014: Sonic Narrative

The Assignment: Do a sonic version of Matt Madden's Exercises in Style.


Each Thursday evening at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership to the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This assignment was made in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 5, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, April 9, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list:

Disquiet Junto 0014: Sonic Narrative

Subject: This project, the 14th in the weekly Disquiet Junto series, is about sonic narrative.

Instructions: You will re-tell a very short and simple story — an anecdote really, an everyday slice of life — utilizing sound. It will take the form of a single audio file uploaded to your Soundcloud account. You will construct this track in any manner you choose: with field recordings, music, effects, dialog, or a mix thereof. The story you will be re-telling is this single-page comic strip by Matt Madden:


In the process of re-telling the story through sound, you may interpret it in any way you choose. You can do it as straight narrative, or do an abstract rendition, or retell it from another point of view, or contribute a score as if it were a movie, or a record series of foley cues. The choice is yours.

Background: Matt Madden’s single-page comic is the template for a book he created titled 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. In the book, Madden told that same story 99 different ways, each in a different comic-book style. For example, he told it as a superhero comic, he told it as a manga, he told it as experienced from upstairs, and he told it as if it were overheard at a bar. Madden did this in homage to the French writer Raymond Queneau’s own Exercises in Style, which is a key text of the literary movement known as Oulipo. Oulipo approaches the act of writing with intentional constraints, and the movement’s approach to creativity was a strong influence on the development of the Disquiet Junto. Oubapo is the name of the comics version of Oulipo. What we’re up to is the musical version: Oumupo

Length: Please keep your piece to between two and seven minutes in length.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0014-oumupo” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: As always, you don’t have to set your track for download, but it would be preferable.

Linking: When you post your track, please include this information:

More on Matt Madden and his book 99 Ways to Tell a Story at:

http://mattmadden.com/ http://exercisesinstyle.com/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:


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