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

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Monthly Archives: May 2002

Industry Standards

Music fans can’t get along very well without jazz singer Diana Krall. As of this writing, her The Look of Love (Verve) has topped the Billboard jazz chart for dozens of weeks. It’s an album of jazz standards, including “Cry Me a River” and, yes, Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well” — songs whose initial popularity predated Krall’s birth. It’s an album of cool smolder; her voice manages to be rich and ethereal, a heavy presence doing its best to keep quiet. The arrangements are by Claus Ogerman, who previously nestled the singing of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Perhaps in this uneasy time of war, it’s comforting to retreat to music of an earlier era. Then again, when is it not the right time to revisit the wry wordplay and maudlin romance that is “The Night We Called It a Day”?

The Look of Love appeals to an audience intent on maturing out of rock’n’roll. It starts off with the Gershwins’ “S’ Wonderful,” set in tropical tones that will register with anyone fond of Sade’s island mood music and looking to explore more established estuaries. On the second cut, “Love Letters,” Krall employs the sort of theatrical — but, again, understated — phrasing that pop fans will recognize from Sting’s more sophisticated outings, like “Moon Over Bourbon Street.”

The 10 songs on Krall’s album are all standards — that is, songs more familiar in an abstract sense than for any specific rendition. They’re the sort of songs Will Friedwald explores in his recent book, Stardust Memories (Pantheon), which studies a dozen such classics, like “I Got Rhythm” and “My Funny Valentine.”

Verve has also revisited a dozen songs from its catalog, with results purposefully less erudite than Friedwald’s. For Verve Remixed, the label commissioned electronica acts to remix songs as esteemed as Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” and as bizarre as Tony Scott’s “Hare Krishna.” The results range from the disarmingly natural (Rae & Christian emphasize the original swing of Dinah Washington’s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?”) to the peculiarly meticulous (MJ Cole repeats a split-second of Carmen McRae’s voice in the rhythm track of her “How Long Has This Been Going On?”). Perhaps a future Verve compilation might focus on otherwise wholly original pop songs that discretely sample its catalog, like Kirsty MacColl’s “In These Shoes?” (off Tropical Brainstorm), which borrows from Willie Bobo’s “Spanish Grease,” which Richard Dorfmeister amps up with distant echoes and heavy bass for the Verve album.

The covers album has been a pop staple at least since David Bowie’s early-’70s Pin Ups. Where “covers” define themselves by how much they vary from an original version, “standards” are like a platonic ideal of a given song. When Alex Chilton released a standards album, he titled the record Cliches. Recently, the indie-rock band Crooked Fingers released an EP of what it calls Reservoir Songs, including chestnuts by Neil Diamond (a magnet for semi-ironic tributes) and, yes, Bowie.

The Krall and Remixed albums evidence there are many approaches to reworking the past. In our technological era, perhaps it’s the difference between reverse engineering and upgrading.

Originally published, in slightly different form, in Pulse! magazine, May 2002.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]
  • 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe



  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • 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).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    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.

    Recent Projects

  • 0548 / Drone Vox / The Assignment: Make a drone using just your voice.
    0547 / Genre Melee / Combine two seemingly different genres.
    0546 / Code Notes / The Assignment: Make music that includes a secret message.
    0545 / Unself-Awareness / The Assignment: Learn from feedback intended for others.
    0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 548 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts