Thanks largely to a single composition by the late Morton Feldman, the name of painter Mark Rothko, if not his painting itself, has long been associated with ambient music. Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, composed in 1971, a year after his friend’s death, is a characteristically attenuated and deeply quiet work. Even without Feldman, though, Rothko was a likely godfather to ambient music, given that his many broad canvases generally focused on two or three thick fields of deep, sensual color. Bob Green, who records with various musicians under the name Grassy Knoll, picked a Rothko image for the cover of the album titled III, though that is arguably his least quiet recording. Now, Bernhard Gunter has taken the title of a Rothko piece as inspiration for a broad canvas of near silence that can best be likened to industrial-environmental music — that is, music whose sense is scene-setting and atmospheric, but whose substance, such as it is, sounds more like the distant hum of machinery than the tweeting of birds or the trickling of water. On Brown, Blue, Brown on Blue (For Mark Rothko) (Trente Oiseaux), Gunter has some interesting thoughts on the nature of slow music (“I have often found that listeners took a shorter piece to last longer than an actually longer one”), and a survey of his writing on his own web site (see below) lends a valuable context for this recording.
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
• August 15 - September 15, 2019: The Disquiet Junto is teaming up with Musikfestival Bern for a series of projects.
• August 29, 2019: This day marks the start of the 400th consecutive weekly Disquiet Junto project. It will be a collaboration with the novelist Malka Older.
• December 13, 2019: This day marks the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2020: This day marks the 8th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• March 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen.
• 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.
• 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).
Most Recent Posts
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.
• 0400 / Sub Divided / The Assignment: Create a score to a Malka Older story using the author's own voice as source audio.
• 0399 / Edges & Echoes / The Assignment: Make sonic art for a space with the sounds of that space.
• 0398 / Rauschen Bern / The Assignment: Make music by making a collage of noises.
• 0397 / Numbers Racket / The Assignment: It's 808 Day. Do it up.
• 0396 / Front Page / The Assignment: Make music with by humming a song and then processing the humming.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 400 consecutive weeks to date.
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Most Recent Comments
Jason Richardson: "Cheers Marc, there’s a superstition that hanging out washing will lead to rain. Having..."
Entrümpelung Berlin: "thank you very much great article "
Gard Goldsmith: "It’s been a while since your post, but I want to let you know that I love The Grassy Knoll,..."
jimmy kipple: "“Epcot for aesthetes” #clappingemoji "
Mahlen: "Regarding the Android comment: as you say, simultaneous audio is clearly already possible in Android. The..."