If LTJ Bukem’s recent double album, Journey Inwards, left you wanting — if his hybrid of drum’n’bass and cool jazz was, perhaps, a little too sleek — seek out the new 12″ series from Kosma, called New Aspects in Third Stream Music and available from the German label Infracom. The first of five scheduled releases is titled “Odessa,” a fine, free-floating example of jazzy drum’n’bass (the B-side is a Peter Kruder remix of the same track). Like Bukem’s model, the underlying percussion here is drum’n’bass perpetrated by highly life-like instrumentation, an apparent drum kit tracing patterns we’ve come to associate with computers. The rhythm is spare and circular, with the odd beat dropped out for drama’s sake. Thick piano chords accentuate key moments. Laid on top is a host of lounge-oriented material, from operatic exotica vocals to John Barry-style strings. Computerized tones float by occasionally, but the overall effect is very “real.” The series’ title, of course, comes from Gunther Schuller’s formulation for a classically motivated form of jazz music: “third stream” was meant to describe the overlap of chamber composition and meditative jazz improvisation, anything from Stan Kenton’s conceptual big-band charts to George Russell’s theoretically informed small-band stuff. Kosma may simply be having fun with the term (and the period album graphics) but he makes a point, nonetheless, about the friction between computerized composition and its reliance on sampled material that was, once upon a time, not only live but spontaneous. Kruder’s remix is fairly non-intrusive. He has some fun with a wah-wah-ish sound, and drops bits of percussion and other elements off to the side of the stereo spectrum.
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.
• 0494 / Insect Menagerie / The Assignment: Record a 20-second clip of the sounds of an insect that you yourself have invented.
• 0493 / AudioCorrect / The Assignment: Think about the utility and the useful failures inherent in autocorrect and apply this to your music.
• 0492 / Kintsugi Rework / The Assignment: Employ the Japanese technique of mending broken ceramics as a metaphor for remixing.
• 0491 / Footsteps Sequencer / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music structured upon a walk through your home.
• 0490 / In Conversation / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music structured like dialog.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 494 consecutive weeks to date.
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