It’s hard to know what some deep-pocketed audiophiles might make of freq_out, a compilation on Ash International Records of art music seemingly crafted for effete dogs — high-pitched experimental music that was commissioned for, in the immortal phrase of songwriter Gus Kahn, high-tone places. The set’s 12 original tracks feature upper-register sound sculptures by a broad range of contributors (there’s also a 13th ensemble track), including J.G. Thirwell (aka Foetus), taking a break from the more pedestrian sounds of industrial rock, and Brandon LaBelle, among others. The album is an artifact of an installation at a gallery in Copenhagen from June of last year, in which artists were given frequency ranges in which to play around. The results are much more varying than one might imagine, though judging from the cacophony of Jana Winderen‘s track, it seems like someone didn’t read the instructions carefully. PerMagnus Lindborg turns in bent tones like thick wind, while LaBelle makes fun, stereophonic, pixilated funk, bouncing little beats back and forth. Thirwell, like Winderen, doesn’t seem to adhere to a particularly narrow frequency range, but the his multi-faceted track, highlighted by chugging ritual music on a miniscule scale, is worth the price of admission on its own. The remainders range from Star Trek special effects to pure immersive sound design. As for those audiophiles in question? Faced with sounds more likely dismissed as errors than readily identified as music, they’d probably freak out.
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.
• 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.
• 0460 / Creative Destruction / The Assignment: Show how you got to a tortured sound.
• 0459 / From a Distance / The Assignment: Make music intended to be heard from afar.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 463 consecutive weeks to date.
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