New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Monthly Archives: April 2000

Big Beat Boxed

The British label Skint is best known for Fatboy Slim’s hits (“Praise You,” “Rockafeller Skank”), which tend to lay sampled vocals atop the heavy electronic percussion that typifies so-called “big beat” music. The Brassic Beats USA compilation will excite fans of that sound with a dozen cuts that adhere to Fatboy’s formula, like how Midfield General (on “Devil in Sports Casual”) finds unwitting funk in the phrasing of a man who talks about the Satanic purpose of dance music. Or how Dr. Bone (on “I Came Here to Get Ripped”) turns a few plays on the word thumpin'” into a memorable chorus that has more in common with the pub rock of, say, Dave Edmunds than one might want to ponder. Fatboy himself contributes “Sho Nuff,” built around a disco sample, and also remixes the Midfield General track. Electrelane, a relatively traditional rock band (you remember, guitar and drums), lends some diversity to the mix with some ’60s-style organ riffs. Among those also present are Lo Fidelity Allstars, Space Raiders and experimental DJ Cristian Vogel, working with Jamie Liddell under the name Super_Collider. The poppy context provides an opportunity to revel in the rudimentary tweaking of found sounds.

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Dramatic Percussion, Discrete Tones

The self-released Compositions album by New York-based composer Steven (J.) Kane, who studies music at Columbia University, contains a mix of acoustic and electronic work. The acoustic music is contemporary classical: relatively a-temporal in its relaxation of metrical constraint, but more melodic than that of the composers whom it suggests (Olivier Messiaen, Morton Feldman and John Cage among them); at times, Kane’s dramatic percussion and tantalizingly placed notes recall the more experimental soundtracks of composers Jerry Goldsmith and Lalo Schifrin. Three of the album’s eight tracks are experimental tape works, titled “Scratch,” “2′ 10″” and “La Machina Verde in Stereophonic Hi-Fi (aka Destination Battlestar).” Though the array of static and otherwise unrecognizable sonic elements aren’t directly reminiscent of the acoustic tracks’ instrumentation (violin and orchestra; flute, clarinet, harp and percussion; clarinet and string quartet), the parallel between the two styles is fascinating to observe, especially in Kane’s focus on surprisingly placed discrete tones, which tend to punctuate his music. “2′ 20″” appears to present highly distressed vocal material, and the effect of the overlaid sounds can be truly frightening. “La Machina” works campy TV and radio samples into the mix. (A RealAudio file of “Scratch,” the most patient of the three electronic pieces, is available at the following link.)

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  • about

  • 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

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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of 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.)

  • 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.

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  • 0554 / Cage Chord / The Assignment: Riff on a chord by John Cage.
    0553 / Break That Cycle / The Assignment: Record in a steady tempo but break it on occasion.
    0552 / The Radio in My Life / The Assignment: Record music in response to a John Cage and Morton Feldman conversation.
    0551 / The Bends / The Assignment: Get less strict about something you're strict about.
    0550 / Abrupt Probability / Make music based on a chance graphic score.

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