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: October 2001

Free Jazz-Tinged Ambience

Night Must Fall‘s “Sheer Delight” is one of three free MP3 files offered on London-based musician Gary Curtis’ web site. Curtis specializes in soulful jazz-tinged ambience that mixes the elegance of movie soundtracks with the starkness of industrial music.

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Delicate Sonic Constructions

Motion is one man, Chris Coode, and Pictures (Motion) collects a dozen of his delicate sonic constructions. A first listen will focus, no doubt, on the ephemeral nature of the sounds from which these deceptively thin compositions are made: what seem like small bells and sitar and piano appear in a slow progression. But these sounds — incorrectly identified above, no doubt — are only part of the story, because Coode intersperses them with a substantial leavening of more mysterious material. Some of these stranger sounds result, likely, from his editing of the familiar snippets — what sounds like piano is replaced with what may simply be the piano’s distant echo; what sounds like bell is overshadowed by what may be a choice split-segment of the ringing tone. A track titled “Field” opens with the sort of choral synth that might launch a house anthem, but the downbeat never arrives. Another, titled “Snapshots,” shuffles squirts of noise while a childlike melody sets the pace. And pace may be Coode’s strongest gift as a musician, the way he uses space to create surprises and associations, drama and grace.

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Plastic Man

Before embarking on a 2001 tour of the United States, Squarepusher talked about the personal challenges of making challenging music.

Squarepusher, born Tom Jenkinson, has long distinguished himself as one of Britain’s leading pop avant-gardists. Warp Records, the label that releases his work, is also home to Aphex Twin and Autechre — and along with those two acts he has played a significant role defining contemporary electronic music.

Like them he has prioritized the computer as a musical instrument in the public consciousness, though he doesn’t have Aphex’s name recognition or Autechre’s legions of imitators. What he has is a uniquely aggressive body of recorded work, as exemplified by his 2001 album, Go Plastic, 10 tracks that range from catchy and upbeat to maddeningly noise-addled.

That madness may be his defining characteristic. Trying to locate a specific melodic theme in most Squarepuser compositions is like plotting a course in choppy seas; after a while, one learns to simply take comfort in remaining afloat.

Jenkinson has received considerable attention for the influence of jazz, especially the early electric fusion of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, on his own decidedly digital work. That influence is most apparent on his Music Is Rotten One Note album, with its emphasis on an organized chaos that sounds highly reminiscent of group improvisation.

The Go Plastic album is marked by a similar brand of electronic rigor, but it also contains one of the most accessible songs of Squarepusher’s career, a chipper single titled “My Red Hot Car,” which drops an obscene lyrical fragment over a skittery, danceable rhythm.

In June of this year, just before he embarked on a solo tour of the U.S., Squarepusher took time to discuss his solitary life, hit work ethic and his listening habits.

Marc Weidenbaum: One of the best things about the single, “My Red Hot Car,” off your recent album, Go Plastic, is that it’s the first thing you’ve released in a while that someone could play for a friend to introduce them to your work. It’s listener-friendly.

Squarepusher: So many people say that. Yeah, yeah: “This one might make sense.” Read more »

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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.
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    • 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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