The ever prolific Bill Laswell, one of the great ambient-dub producer/musicians, has posted for free download an MP3 of a track from his upcoming album, Version 2 Version (ROIR). The song, “Babylon Site,” is a extended chunk of dub, almost nine minutes of bass that slows the pulse, flanged percussion that sounds like some sorta super-slo-mo Doppler Effect, and just generally deep, deep echo that brings to minds vats of rich chocolate. The cherry on top is a mix of chiming guitar and synthesized strings, just about the track’s only nods to the treble range. For the Version 2 Version album, Laswell characteristically brought together a supergroup, including bassist Jah Wobble, keyboardist (and George Clinton sideman) Bernie Worrell (whose great work with Talking Heads is being rediscovered of late, thanks to the rerelease of the Name of This Band album), and two percussionists: Karsh Kale and Abdou Mboup. Now, a lot of echo-heavy music sounds as if it had been recorded in a sterile hall, a modernist zone of aesthetic purity — a wrongheaded Platonic ideal of a space-music space, especially where dub is concerned — but Laswell’s “Babylon Site” has the intimacy of seasoned musicians working in close commune. The full album comes out Sept. 21, 2004. The “Babylon Site” MP3 is downloadable, for the time being, here. More info on Version 2 Version, as the release date nears, at roir-usa.com.
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
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th 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.
• 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 oup.com.)
• 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.
• 0490 / In Conversation / The Assignment: Compose a piece of music structured like dialog.
• 0489 / The Prestige / The Assignment: Apply some magic to ABA form.
• 0488 / Reverse Delay / The Assignment: Do something you've been putting off.
• 0487 / Carillon Quotidian / The Assignment: Turn a recurring sound from your life into music.
• 0486 / Earths Days / The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 490 consecutive weeks to date.
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