Keith Rowe and Oren Ambarchi play a mix of guitar and electronics on Flypaper (Staubgold), an exhilaratingly stark album, if such a thing is possible. Their tandem playing has the randomness of field recordings, the spaciousness of great soundscapes and the give-and-take of substantive free improvisation. Flypaper is a pan-generational affair, teaming old-school avant-guitarist Rowe (b. 1952) with a guitarist of a younger generation, Ambarchi (b. 1969), who besides a rich resume of free/noise music has experience in today’s experimental pop-electronic realm, largely as a result of his association with the Touch label (which is home to, among others, Fennesz, who has done his part to make the electric guitar at home in the modern realm of the laptop-computer studio). Over the course of four tracks, “Flypaper I” through “Flypaper IV,” Rowe and Ambarchi tread rarified territory, eking out granular layers of dread and texture, and keeping to stoic rhythms that tend toward the ritual. Rowe can be a tough guitarist to love, because the sounds he himself loves are generally abrasive, and he seems bored by playing the same thing twice. That said, he’s more than happy to play the same thing — a shuddering low tone, a buzzy rasp — for minutes at a time, and to let that thing resolve on its own accord. Only a diehard fan could begin to imagine where he lets off and where Ambarchi comes in, so intimate is their deeply sensitive sense of ensemble and their weighty patience.
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
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 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. (Details at oup.com.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th 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.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• 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.
• 0465 / You Thank / The Assignment: Make a piece of music for someone or something for which you feel thankful.
• 0464 / Blanket Song / The Assignment: Play over a song, and then remove the original.
• 0463 / Making the Gradient / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.
• 0462 / Vade in Pace / The Assignment: Write a short piece of music that gets slower and slower as it proceeds.
• 0461 / Goldilocks Zone / The Assignment: Navigate a sonic space between the hospitable and the inhospitable.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 465 consecutive weeks to date.
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