Chiastic Slide Autechre (Warp) Arid yet fanciful, Autechre (Sean Booth and Rob Brown) rebukes the suggestion that machines must be “humanized” in order for them to sing.
Autoditacker Mouse on Mars (Thrill Jockey) Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner construct daydreamy soundtracks for everyday life, impressionist strolls through the Information Age.
Richard D. James Album Aphex Twin (Warp/Sire) The man of many pseudonyms outs himself with a personal, mostly instrumental record, ranging from elegant contemporary classical to Ween-like pranksterism.
Hard Normal Daddy Squarepusher (Warp) Drum’n’bass means staggered, bubbling, relentlessly shifting; Tom (Squarepusher) Jenkinson is among its foremost dealers.
Delivery Scanner (Rawkus/Primitive) Robin (Scanner) Rimbaud lifts intimate moments from unguarded portable phones, and ups their emotional intensity with improvisatory de facto soundtracks.
Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 1 Raymond Scott (Basta) As the burgeoning electronic-music community casts back in time for a legacy to claim, it couldn’t have asked for a more eccentric uncle than Scott; this reissue dates from early ’60s.
Lunatic Harness Âµ-ziq (Astralwerks) The calypso of the recent future.
Matmos Matmos (Vague Terrain) Perhaps the finest debut of the year — experiments in concrete music, sampling, and atmospherics. A minor-key miracle of home taping and sonic construction by Drew Daniel and m.c. Schmidt, aka Matmos. Though the elements seem austere and experimental, all snippets of near-silent effluvia, the results are strangely poppy — at times sounding like like an Oval remix of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Addictive.
Bricolage Amon Tobin (Ninja Tune) Like labelmate Funki Porcini, Tobin unearths drum’n’jungle rhythms in the strangest, most familiar places. (Also check out the followup EP, Piranha Breaks.)
Homogenic Bjork (Elektra) Few have managed to sing atop electronica (actually only a segment of this album) without muffling it.
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0511 / Freeze Tag / The Assignment: Consider freezing (and thawing) as a metaphor for music production.
• 0510 / Cold Turkey / The Assignment: Record one last track with a piece of music equipment before passing it on.
• 0509 / The Long Detail / The Assignment: Create a piece of music with moments from a preexisting track.
• 0508 / Germane Shepard / The Assignment: Use the Shepard tone to create a piece of music.
• 0507 / In DD's Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 511 consecutive weeks to date.