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

Two Recent Talks

Sound art at CCA + "music comics" at the Academy of Art

I gave two talks recently in San Francisco. The first, on October 23, was part of Chris Kallmyer’s course at the California College of Art. The second, on November 11, was a standalone event at the Academy of Art.

The one for Kallmyer’s course, which is about sound as an artistic medium, was a chronology of my work in sound, starting in 2006 and running up to the present. That initial year, 2006, a decade after the launch of Disquiet.com, was, in retrospect, a big transition year for me. That was the year I put together the Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet compilation, as a response to the open call for remixes that Brian Eno and David Byrne created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their classic My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album. I then connected the dots from Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet through a subsequent series of compilations I put together, all of which involved me asking musicians to respond to a specific compositional prompt — for example to defend Susan Philipsz in Lowlands: A Sigh Collective, to refute Megan McArdle in Despite the Downturn. Those 2010 projects led to a loosening of the curatorial method in the 2011 Insta/gr/ambient compilation, which was broader minded, and had about twice as many members as the earlier projects, and that in turn led to the far more open-ended Disquiet Junto, which as of this writing is finishing its 151st weekly project. In between I touched on the 2009 piece I had at the gallery Crewest in Los Angeles, the 2012 project of putting together a score for the exhibit Rob Walker curated at Apex Art in Manhattan, and my piece at a Dubai art gallery at the start of this year, and brought things into the present with the exhibit I currently have at the San Jose Museum of Art (more on which here at Disquiet.com shortly). I don’t think I’d ever really done a talk before in which all those things were connected as one continuum. It was very enjoyable to walk through, and Kallmyer’s students were curious, thoughtful, and intelligent.

The talk I gave at the Academy of Art was an overview of the work that went into the four comics I edited recently for Red Bull Music Academy (MF DOOM, DJ Krush, Can / Damo Suzuki, Isao Tomita). In the talk, I began back in 1992, when I started editing the comics at Pulse! magazine for what would turn out to be a decade, and then my half decade at Viz, the manga publisher. The Red Bull Music Academy comics combined those two periods, in that the comics drew creators from both Japan and North America. In preparation for the talk I had a bit of a realization about a question I’ve been asked regularly since 1992: “How do you edit comics?” I’ve long struggled with detailed explanations of what it means to edit a comic, and developed this theory about how people who can’t draw can have a tendency to read too much into how complex drawing is, when for someone who can draw a rough illustration is about as much effort as a paragraph is for a good writer. But I now think the question “How do you edit comics?” may have at its root a more simple misunderstanding. When a lot of people hear the word “edit” they think it means, at most, “copyedit,” and they are confused by how you can “copyedit” a picture. In the talk I gave at the Academy of Art I explained that true editing is, ultimately, a form of creative direction, whether or not pictures are involved. Anyhow, the opportunity to talk about comics at the Academy of Art (which is where I’ve taught my sound course for five semesters so far) was very enjoyable, and it was organized by Cameron Maddux.

Many thanks to Kallmyer and Maddux for the opportunities.

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Tomita, the Manga

The fourth comic in my series for Red Bull Music Academy's Tokyo festival

20141113-tomita

Now online is the fourth and final comic in the series that I’ve been editing for Red Bull Music Academy’s 2014 Tokyo festival. Titled “Switched On” it is an overview of the life and career of synthesizer master Isao Tomita, with a story cowritten by Jordan Ferguson and Yuko Ichijo and drawn by Ichijo. As with the previous three comics in the series, there is light animation. I’m especially pleased with this one because it is as distinct from the others as they are from each other, and because Ichijo managed to use Japanese and English side by side, with the exception of the narration that appears at the bottom of each page.

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As with the other manga in the four-comic series, the one about DJ Krush, I co-edited this with Hideki Egami, long the editor of Shogakukan’s Ikki magazine. The other previous two were Can and MF Doom.

Ferguson wrote the recent 33 1/3 book about J. Dilla’s album Donuts. And here is Ichijo’s biography:

Yuko Ichijo is a cartoonist from Miyagi, Japan. After completing her study at Musashino Art University’s faculty of graphic design, she received honorable mention at the 159th Young Jump Best New Comer of the Month Awards in ’92 with Fujiyu Nikki (Inconvenient Diary), which led her to debut on the Young Jump magazine. Since then she has published numerous comics, and her latest series called Ahou Ressha is currently been published by Shogaku-kan Publishing up to the third volume.

The Tomita manga is in English at redbullmusicacademy.com and in Japanese at redbullmusicacademy.jp.

Oh, in related news there’s a great lecture by Tomita on the RBMA site.

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When Damo Met Can

The third comic in the series I'm editing for Red Bull Music Academy

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The third comic in the series I’m editing for Red Bull Music Academy is now online. The series is timed to RBMA’s annual, city-centric festival, which this year takes place all over Tokyo. It’s by writer Zack Soto (Study Group Comics) and illustrator Connor Willumsen (Treasure Island). The comic, “When Damo Met Can,” presents the period when Damo Suzuki was recruited as the lead singer of the German rock band Can. (In related news, the 33 1/3 series book on Can’s Tago Mago, written by Alan Warner, is being published this month. The timing is a nice coincidence.) Willumsen lends incredible detail, period feel, and psychedelic immersion to Soto’s story, which draws from band anecdotes and drops in some sly references.

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The original, English-language version of the comic is at redbullmusicacademy.com, and the Japanese translation, with lettering by Haruhisa Nakata (“The Tree of Maüreca,” Levius), is at redbullmusicacademy.jp.

The first two comics in the series were on MF Doom and DJ Krush.

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MF Doom + DJ Krush + Comics + Manga

A series I'm editing for Red Bull Music Academy's Tokyo festival

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I initiated and have been editing a series of three-page comics and manga for Red Bull Music Academy to coincide with its Toyko festival, which is underway right now. The first in the Red Bull Music Academy series tells the story of “The Rise of MF Doom” (detail above) through the lens of classic comics like, naturally, The Fantastic Four, with art by Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma, The Fox, Batman) and a script by Gabe Soria (Batman ’66, and Life Sucks with Jessica Abel), supported by Allen Passalaqua on colors and Vito Delsante on lettering.

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The second RBMA piece (detail above), created by manga-ka (or manga creator) Haruhisa Nakata (“The Tree of Maüreca,” Levius) focuses on one of my favorite Japanese musicians, DJ Krush. The story takes Krush’s early childhood habit of making new toys out of spare parts and connects it to his making music from pre-existing recordings. Titled “Building It,” the manga is based on an interview that Krush did specifically for the RBMA series. I co-edited the Krush manga with Hideki Egami, who was long the editor of the excellent manga magazine Ikki, known for such series as Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea, Iou Kuroda’s Sexy Voice and Robo (I wrote an essay that appears in the English edition of the manga), and Taiyō Matsumoto’s No. 5 and Sunny. Egami generously accepted my invitation to help on the Japanese side of this international project. All the RBMA comics are appearing online in English and Japanese, and each features light elements of animation. The crew has coalesced in a great way, with Nakata taking the time to assist by lettering in Japanese some of the English-language comics, and Delsante assisting on some of the English versions of the manga.

For background, I edited the comics in the music magazine Pulse!, published by Tower Records, from 1992 to 2002, and later worked for half a decade at Viz, the U.S.-based publisher of manga in translation, and it’s been great to bring those experiences together. At Viz I worked with folks like Jessica Abel, Ed Brubaker, Barry McGee, and Adrian Tomine early in their careers, and with folks like Dan DeCarlo, Justin Green, Peter Kuper, and P. Craig Russell further along in theirs. Full index of the Pulse! comics here.

There is more to come in this Red Bull Music Academy series. Watch it unfold at redbullmusicacademy.com in English and redbullmusicacademy.jp in Japanese.

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Litquake Appearance on October 18

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

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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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