Canadian composer and guitarist BenoÃ®t Charest wrote the music for the masterful new French anime, Les Triplettes de Belleville, which is a bit like saying he wrote its captions, since the film is almost entirely free of dialog, so much so that the occasional bit of spoken language — a vaudevillian song or the spiel of a TV news anchor — goes without subtitles. One of the many musical highlights in the film is a kind of household-goods industrial music, featuring a newspaper ruffled rhythmically into a microphone, a muffled vacuum cleaner that moans like a pneumatic Theremin, and a refrigerator, its shelving grates plucked like a harp that’s entered rigor mortis; joining the trio is a woman who specializes in playing slim wooden mallets on the carefully tuned spokes of a bicycle wheel. That track, sadly, is not readily available for MP3 download. However, on Charest’s website (bencharest.com), he hosts a dozen full-length cues from various of his film-soundtrack assignments, and one in particular evidences a taste and talent for electronic music that was hinted at by Bellville‘s bit of found-object wizardry. Be sure to give a listen to “Dobro Trance,” one of two clips from the film Ne Dis Rien (it’s the second of the two files listed under that film — all these clips are available via the “téléchargement” tab on Charest’s homepage). The track is just what its title suggests, spacious music that uses, of all things, the dobro guitar as its main source material. Eventually a drum machine kicks in, but it’s worth waiting around for the dobro’s return later in the seven-plus-minute track. The music brings to mind the solo cello work of ECM recording artist David Darling and the ambient slide guitar of Bruce Kaplan, and, of course, the spaghetti-western scores of Ennio Morricone.
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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