The latest various-artists collection from Schematic Records, the label’s fourth, is a kind of anti-compilation. Other than its self-effacingly — and self-consciously — bland title, Well-suited for General-purpose Audio Work, the volume provides little else in the way of explanation for itself. For example, though the CD booklet is a gatefold, the interior spread is blank. What little text there is lists the titles of the collection’s 13 tracks, the names of contributing artists and the details of publishing rights. The only other bit of text serves as a kind of subtitle, “Adorable survival music by Phoenicia, Richard Devine, Otto Von Schirach and Dino Felipe of the Schematic Music Company.” Inexplicably, that list excludes several other contributors to the project, including Kiyo, Tipper (remixed by Phoenicia), Canibal A:fraux (remixed by Devine) and Monica De Miguel (assisting Shirach). And furthermore, the track listing for the LP and CD editions diverge; not only is the sequence different, but both the LP and the CD contain exclusive tracks. In the world of electronic music, Ezra Pound’s modernist mantra “Make it new” has long since given way to “Make it difficult” — but as demanding as the Schematic crew’s shenanigans can be, they regularly reward listeners’ patience. Phoenecia’s “Homosote” layers just enough doomy haze above the burbling rhythm track to make for an interesting tangle of elastic syncopation. Dino Felipe’s “Dead Wild Horses” makes the most of its five minutes, moving from a stuttering opening through an ever-altering mix of industrial sounds and flippy sound effects before settling back down again, as if the track itself has been worn out by its effort. Kiyo’s “Philiter,” the album’s seemingly final entry, is perhaps its strongest, first building a cautious beat and then dispensing with it, and leaving only the overlay to last for the track’s nearly five minutes — and if you hold on long enough, about 10 minutes after the song ends there’s a “bonus” cut with synthesized strings and a rap that reads like an avant-electronic answer to Eminem’s brand of drama.
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.
• 0472 / Jam Time (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.
• 0471 / Phase Transition / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.
• 0470 / Calendar View / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.
• 0469 / [Missing in Caption] / The Assignment: Make music that pushes the constraints of descriptive television captions.
• 0468 / Mirror Rorrim / The Assignment: Create a new persona for yourself, and record a duet together.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 472 consecutive weeks to date.
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