The music made by Chance’s End (aka Ryan Avery) is not standard Disquiet Downstream material. It isn’t remotely fragile, abstract or attenuated, and even though it eschews all but the most mechanically tortured of singing — words generally vocoded to the point of incomprehensibility, with the exception of some catch phrases — it follows standard song structure without fail. The songs are more Orb than Aphex, more Jan Hammer than Margaret Leng Tan, more Crystal Method and BT than anything else, pop tunes built from the stuff of rave music. But they’re also absolutely stuffed with surprises, like the abrasive riff running through “Totem Redux” (imagine a turntablist forced to make do with a set of rusty brakes on a junkyard car), or the X-Files-style submarine radar that opens “Platinum Prawn,” or the piercing electric-violin solo that erupts midway through the song. Avery’s violin is used to particularly strong effect on “Going On,” building with warehouse-party gusto, high on the enticingly vacuous drama. Cheesy? Perhaps, but at the height of popularity for the Polyphonic Spree and Flaming Lips, we’re long since past such concerns. Check out these free downloads, and others, off his recent Set Me Free album, at chancesend.com (click on the “media” tab — oh, and if there’s no evident link for the “Totem Redux” track, you can find the MP3 file here). These are theme songs for cop shows yet to be pitched.
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.
• 0473 / Placebo Effect (2 or 3) / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio that others will complete.
• 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.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 473 consecutive weeks to date.
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