Only someone as successful at building a name brand as Roni Size — following the near-ubiquitously praised album New Forms, which won Britain’s high honor, the Mercury prize — would hide behind so vague a moniker as Breakbeat Era. Imagine Aphex Twin following up Selected Ambient Works II with an outfit named Digital Atmospheres. In any case, consider Ultra-obscene (1500 Records/A&M) a meaty Everything but the Girl, as vocalist Leonie Laws lays down throaty, artfully minimal lyrics with an intense awareness of the serpentining substrata inherent in drum’n’bass music; to hear her go with the mechanical flow is to experience the kind of mentality that first distinguished jazz singers from plain old singers, once upon a time. Laws’ vocalizing gives new meaning to the term “human beatbox.” And her penchant for repeating phrases brings to mind Michael Stipe’s elfin, hesitant wordplay. Meanwhile, Size’s productions (in cahoots with DJ Die) keep things exceedingly simple. Cynics will say he’s saving his beats for the next New Forms, but close listeners may just find this album the most rewarding thing he’s yet waxed.
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
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming 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).
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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.
• 0477 / Flying Blind / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which some substantial portion is performed without looking.
• 0476 / IAH Forecast / The Assignment: Here's your next single's cover. Now record it.
• 0475 / Low End (4 of 3) / The Assignment: Remix a trio by doing forensics on its component parts.
• 0474 / Police Action (3 of 3) / The Assignment: Complete a trio by adding a track to an existing duet by two other musicians
• 0473 / Placebo Effect (2 or 3) / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio that others will complete.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 477 consecutive weeks to date.
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