New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Monthly Archives: August 2004

Barbershop Field-Recording MP3

Like its earlier Downstream entry (see the highly recommended “Le Saint Jean,” January 7, 2004, here), Soundvial‘s “Steven Head” MP3 has all the makings of a short indie film — well, a very short indie film (at just over six minutes), and one without any visuals. The track manages to tell a story of sorts, with little more than some occasionally unintelligible spoken audio and a soundtrack of slow-going electric guitar, a bit of percussion (a spare jazz kit), and these subtle textures that make themselves apparent only on the second or third listen. Prominent among these latter elements, of course, is the buzz of the haircut that is the putative subject of the recorded narrative, but others include extended runs of reverb that loop around like water in the ears, and filters applied to the spoken segments that may or may not simply be unintended consequences of recording slyly (to MiniDisc?) on the go in a cramped space. The dialog is a conversation at a barbershop, plus the phone call that precedes it: a study in intimate but cautiously unrevealing old-world exchanges. Fans of Scanner will dig it, but so will fans of Jim Jarmusch. (More on the Soundvial duo, Ken Reisman and Matt Simon, at The “Steven Head” MP3 is downloadable directly here.)

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Laundromat Techno MP3

Kwook, with his nonsense syllable of a nom-du-MP3, knows that much as a word repeated ad nauseam becomes almost alarmingly meaningless, a sound repeated on end becomes a potent rhythm track. The self-descriptive “Washerloop,” off his four-song Immiscible EP on the One netlabel (downloadable free here), starts with a washing machine but becomes pure techno even before the light comes on to signal a call for detergent.

In part this is because your standard everyday laundromat is a natural minimal-techno engine, an armory of things that rattle as they rotate, things that being mechanical have inherent, often eccentric, rhythms, even if they do not adhere to what we think of as a proper downbeat. “Washerloop” is fine field-recording techno also because the recognizable sound elements are matched and eventually subsumed by a more artificial brand of throbbing, roiling sound.

What “Washerloop” achieves with the noise of a Sunday morning laundry session, “Apolloguiltly” does with deeply distorted vocals, virtually unintelligible, as if they’re being tapped in an aquarium. Where “Washerloop” goes for dance-floor agitation, this track beatifies its source material, ascending from the mundane concerns of the muffled conversation toward something heavenly, the come-hither voices of the Information Age sirens. “Psychopomp” achieves similarly haloed ends with more traditional instrumentation; the elegant stretch of ambience could easily be transferred to church organ.

The only disappointment on Immiscible is the opening track, a pulsing shunt of pop-minimalism with the generic spirit of a lesser Tangerine Dream score. It’s built on bland synthesized sounds, washes of silicon waves, pointillist riffs played with all-to-familiar preset tones, unearthly choral harmonies sung by eunuch androids. The rest of the EP, though, especially “Washerloop” and “Apolloguiltly,” more than make up for this misstep. (More on Kwook, aka Simon Bennet of Perth, Australia, at

Tags: , , / Comment: 1 ]

Reverberant BBC Stream

Promise to not make a habit of it, but this week’s Friday Downstream link is the same as last Friday’s: the BBC’s Mixing It radio show, at Same link, but new show, as each Friday brings a brand new broadcast. This one features — in addition to fine commercial recordings by Sion Orgon (real-world sounds warped until they sound like avant-garde chamber music), “underground hip-hop” mainstay El-P jamming with jazz musicians (among them Daniel Carter, William Parker and Matthew Shipp) and Mira Calix (mixing live insects and orchestra) — live studio performances by, and conversation with, Californian tuba player Tom Heasley, whose deeply reverberant solo works are often reminiscent of whale song. Heasley talks with the Mixing It hosts about his early improvisation experiences on tuba with one of jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s large-scale ensembles circa 1984, the influence of Robert Fripp (whose 1970s “Frippertronics” work make him think, “I could sorta see doing something like this with a tuba”), his prized loop sampler (“[It] records 14 seconds of music, and then you can overdub over that, and it just constantly mixes together and it becomes other things”) and the differences between a tuba and a didjeridu, which he also plays. More on Heasley at, naturally,

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Live Ben Recht MP3

An hour-long live set by Ben Recht (aka Local Fields), recorded earlier this month at the Enormous Room in Cambridge, as part of the weekly Beat Research club night, has been put up online. Recht pithily summarizes the recording as “rock anthems and 3step,” and the most memorable stuff is downright melodic. It’s a (vocal-free) mix of something along the lines of the Cure’s pop sensibility (samples of hooky, loosely strung electric bass and guitar, used to groovy effect, with touches of goofy synths) and the Feelies’ rhythmic richness (myriad segments of lockstep and crosswalking beats). But there’s more going on, the best of it these spare asides, or bridges or tangents, of stark clubfoot techno (perhaps what he meant by “3step”), quirky gizmo action and subtle metrical gamesmanship. It’s unfortunate so many bands get so much attention by aping ’80s new wave acts; all the while, a guy like Recht is quietly channeling that mess of early electronic songcraft into something unique. If his name is familiar, that’s likely due to the coverage his work on the Audiopad musical interface received around this time a year ago. Recht is a PhD candidate at MIT, crunching numbers on the cutting edge by day, but by night (or at least this Monday night) he’s an electronicist with a taste for pop. More on Local Fields, including the downloadable live MP3 set, at More on Beat Research at And more on Recht’s academic research at his MIT homepage, here.

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

German Techno MP3 Lode

Another day, another international netlabel with deep archives. The Germany-based Stadtgruenlabel has been doing free monthly releases of minimal techno all this year. And though much of it is more techno than minimal, more chunka chunka than sublime churn, an initial tour of its catalog reveals various items to recommend. There’s “Desko,” off Dataman‘s six-track Abstrahism, the label’s fourth release, which shifts its various paces against each other in ways that confuse the mind’s ear about foreground and background. Yatsuo Motoki‘s “Offshore,” from the five-track Circular Motion set, eventually achieves loungey sameness, but how it gets there is worth experiencing, a slow build from silence to metronomic sheen. And of course, if chunka chunka is your flavor, then download the label’s eighth and most recent album, Frank Biedermann‘s eager-to-please Wookie Woods. Check them all out at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]
  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe

  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly ( at Gray Area (
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the 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.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at

  • 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).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    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.

    Recent Projects

  • 0548 / Drone Vox / The Assignment: Make a drone using just your voice.
    0547 / Genre Melee / Combine two seemingly different genres.
    0546 / Code Notes / The Assignment: Make music that includes a secret message.
    0545 / Unself-Awareness / The Assignment: Learn from feedback intended for others.
    0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 548 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts