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 localfields.com. More on Beat Research at mashit.com/beatresearch. And more on Recht’s academic research at his MIT homepage, here.
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.
• 0456 / Line Up / The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score.
• 0455 / Inner Invertebrate / The Assignment: What does a moment (or a day) in the life of a jellyfish sound like to a jellyfish?
• 0454 / Lsoo Vneg / The Assignment: Encode the name of someone you love into a piece of music.
• 0453 / Dial Up / The Assignment: Imagine the technologically mediated First Contact through sound.
• 0452 / Let's Scream / The Assignment: Get cathartic. Be resilient. Turn your scream into music.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 456 consecutive weeks to date.
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