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

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How Erik Satie Foresaw Brendan Landis’ Excavation of His “Gymnopedie No. 1”

And how Sean Dack intervened in between, back in 2011

There are influences, and there are precedents. Influences are generally things that one senses as having helped shaped one’s world view. Precedents are often recognized afterward as having foretold, to some small or great degree, efforts that came later. Precedents can serve as akin to influences when their scope is such that even if the influenced isn’t ever directly aware of the original work, that work resulted in a cascade such that a chain of influence is essentially undoubtable, even if it’s only evident in retrospect. There’s plenty of illustrated work, for example, that resembles Rube Goldberg’s complex drawings of unnecessarily complicated inventions designed to achieve a specific end result, yet was done by artists who might only have ever witnessed Goldberg’s specific kind of genius thirdhand. In a way, discussion of influence and precedent is its own Rube Goldberg apparatus: a complicated means by which to say, simply, “This has happened before.”

Satie is often credited as a strong precursor — a precedent — of ambient music due to his exploration of stasis and repetition. This is to say that Brendan Landis’ “Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1,” which has experienced a flurry of attention this past week, can trace its existence back to early Satie works. This parallel distinguishes Landis’ effort — which overlays reportedly 60 different takes of “Gymnopedie 1” end to end — from many other supercut-style pop-culture reworkings. In other words, we might learn something about the form of every Star Wars film played simultaneously or every episode of the TV series MAS*H played simultaneously, but it’s a stretch to suggest that the mashup treatment is intrinsic to those two subjects’ original aesthetic.

Landis, to the contrary, can point to the ambient legacy of “Gymnopedie 1,” to the egoless quality of Satie’s famous “Musique d’Ameublement” (music intended to merge with, to disappear into, the expected sounds of a dinner party), and especially to the composer’s “Vexations,” in which a single musical phrase is repeated 840 times. Landis’ technologically enabled reworking of Satie might take “Vexations” as its strongest precedent: Satie played one thing many times to hear the differences; Landis played many versions of one thing at the same time to hear the differences.

Here, for reference, is a complete performance, almost 10 hours in length, of Nicolas Horvath performing “Vexations” live at the Conservatoire de Musique in Lagny-sur-Marne, France, on June 26, 2011:

Here is Landis’ versions(s) of “Gymnopedie 1.” It had about 2,000 or so listens when I first wrote about it, on January 15. As of this writing it has just shy of 30,000 listens:

Just a day before the Horvath “Vexations” performance, a show closed by coincidence halfway across the world at the Fitzroy Gallery in Manhattan. The exhibit, 21st Century Dub Dub, which was up for almost two months, showcased the artist Sean Dack, who is based in New York. There was only one piece in 21st Century Dub Dub, but as Walt Whitman wrote, it contained multitudes. Titled “Version/Variation,” the piece took 26 different takes on the same Satie piece as Landis, “Gymnopedie 1,” and played them simultaneously. One key difference is that Dack opted to play them not at their original speed but slowed down significantly, so each was just over 70 minutes long — “the total length of a commercially available compact disc,” as described in a program note at the gallery’s website, fitzroygallery.com. In a nod to Janet Cardiff’s monumental “The Forty-Part Motet,” in which each vocal line is played on its own freestanding speaker, the Dack Satie piece has each individual recording playing on a different speaker, thus allowing the listener to walk around and amid the piece, to experience it as frozen music, an architecture of sound.

Here, for reference, is footage of a Cardiff/Motet installation:

The Dack video (shown up at the top of this post) has been online for over a year, since September 10, 2014, but as of today still has fewer than 50 views. It deserves to be more widely heard, though it goes without saying that its strongest effect would be in person, in full multi-speaker surround sound. I want to thank a commenter to my previous piece on Landis (who records and performs under the name Hey Exit), “Every* Recording of Erik Satie’s ‘Gymnopedie 1’ Played at the Same Time,” for having brought the earlier Dack Satie piece to my attention.

The video of “Version/Variation” originally posted at youtube.com. More from Sean Dack at seandack.net. This May 17 will mark the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth. Perhaps an exhibit this year will show both the Landis and the Dack, and other work inspired by Satie.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0207: Remixing Marilli

Rework source audio from Michel Banabila's 1983 album, Marilli.

20151217-mr

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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 in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 17, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 21, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0207: Remixing Marilli
Rework source audio from Michel Banabila’s 1983 album, Marilli.

Step 1: Michel Banabila, the Dutch musician, this past week released a freely downloadable album of reworkings of his 1983 album, Marilli. (Full disclosure: I contributed a track to the remix collection.) He’s provided three brief samples from the album for the Junto to remix. The first step is to download the three samples from the Dropbox folder at this link:

https://goo.gl/JmDEfB

Step 2: Create a new track using only those three samples.

Step 3: Upload your completed track from Step 2 to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 17, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 21, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you, though between one and three minutes seems appropriate.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0207-remixingmarilli.” Also use “disquiet0207-remixingmarilli” as a tag for your track.

Download: Having provided the samples, Banabila has asked that you assign a Creative Commons license allowing for downloads but not for subsequent reworkings or commercial use.

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 207th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Rework source audio from Michel Banabila’s 1983 album, Marilli”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/12/17/disquiet0207-remixingmarilli/

The audio was sourced from the 1983 album Marilli by the album’s composer, Michel Banabila. This project marks the release of the 2015 album Marilli Remixed:

https://banabila.bandcamp.com/album/marilli-remixed-free-download

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

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John Frusciante’s Electronic Output

"Give it away / give it away / give it away now."

20151206-jf

Right around the time Aphex Twin’s SoundCloud account went dark (it’s since been revived), the account of John Frusciante got a fairly sudden injection of new material. Frusciante, best known as a member at various times of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, has posted a number of tracks that essentially lay claim to aspects of the RHCP sound — and then go somewhere else entirely. At the current moment, the lead track on the account is something titled “Genex 44,” which opens with a combination of light trap set and loose guitar; it has the SoCal boho feel of the band’s less funk-oriented music, dubby effects included. And then, at 38 seconds, there’s an EDM-quality fritz, screams from a schoolyard, and an intense run of drum and bass percussion, followed by stretches of asynchronous, gawky synth noise interspersed with spoken word segments and gentle melodies. Much of the account, soundcloud.com/jfdirectlyfromjf, is inherently electronic. Some notable pieces, such as “Motiern 58,” seem especially informed by Aphex Twin’s mix of rhythmic digressions and monophonic lullabies. (The Picasso-ish face painting associated with the account brings to mind one of Bob Dylan’s self-portraits.) There are only 18 tracks on the account right now, and both commenting and track counts have been turned off. Free downloading, however, appears to be on. In an essay on his johnfrusciante.com website he talks about making his music available without the infrastructure of a record label.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/jfdirectlyfromjf. Found initially via a discussion on the muffwiggler.com discussion forum.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat

Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

20151126-toasterremix

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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 in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat
Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

This week’s project is a complement to last week’s — but you can do this week’s project without having done, or even been aware of, last week’s. Last week we added a foreground to an underlying beat. This week we’re adding an underlying beat to a foreground.

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “Beacon, For Marissa” by Toaster:

https://soundcloud.com/toaster-1/beacon-for-marissa

Step 2: You’ll be adding a foundational, underlying rhythm — a beat, that is — to the track. The original is quite long, at over 17 minutes. You can certainly utilize the full piece, but it’s recommended that you select a segment of between 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 3: Please create a new track by adding a beat to the source audio from Step 2. (Do not change the source audio, other than perhaps fading in and out at the start and end, though you can use it as raw material for whatever beat you choose to add.)

Step 4: Upload your completed track from Step 3 to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just over 17 minutes, though you needn’t create something that long. A segment of between 2 to 4 minutes is recommended.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0204-underbeat.” Also use “disquiet0204-underbeat” as a tag for your track.

Download: Set your track as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution), per the license of Toaster’s source audio.

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 204th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/26/disquiet0204-underbeat/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

The image associated with this project is a light reworking of the image that accompanied the track, Toaster’s “Beacon, For Marissa,” that is the source audio for this week’s project:

https://soundcloud.com/toaster-1/beacon-for-marissa

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Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis

Add something to a rhythm track titled "It."

20151119-nameconstant

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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 in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 23, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis
Add something to a rhythm track titled “It.”

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “It” by Name Constant:

https://soundcloud.com/random-coil/it-1

Step 2: When posting the track, Name Constant accompanied it with this invitation: “additions welcome, should anyone be inspired by emptyness.” Please create a new track with the source audio as the foundation. (Do not change the source audio, though you can also use it as raw material for whatever you choose to add.)

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 23, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just under six minutes, though you needn’t create something that long.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0203-beatbasis.” Also use “disquiet0203-beatbasis” as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 203rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add something to a rhythm track titled ‘It'”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/11/19/disquiet0203-beatbasis/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project originally accompanied the source audio (“It” by Name Constant) on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/random-coil/it-1

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