After a month off here at Disquiet.com, a return to free music on the web. John Kannenberg‘s Four Painters EP collects piercing, minimalist tributes to a quartet of modern master visual artists: Paul Klee, Agnes Martin, Kazimir Malevich and Cy Twombly. Each track appears at first as little more than the sort of server-room rumble familiar in most 21st-century office buildings, a mix of chillingly high tones and some intangible thudding in the low to mid-range. Over time, with each listen, each piece takes its own surprisingly individual shape: the Klee with its cinematically rich opening, the way in which staggered samples are echoed into a reverberant, ecstatically ominous haze, and its penchant for the odd mechanical cesura; the Martin, the way its near inaudible opening comes to singular glow; the Malevich, the most varied of the four, how it moves from UFO hovering to a dog’s pant; and the Twombly, which goes as deep and wide as the Martin does high and narrow. Ranging in length from eight to over 13 minutes, the compositions last long enough to get lost in. Kannenberg’s passion for his subjects is evident particularly in the rich rhythms of the Klee and in the teeth-rattling intensity of the Martin as its root pitch rises. These selected artists aren’t merely prime figures from the 20th-century canon. Each in one way or another helped set the aesthetic stage for today’s electronic music: Klee with his colorful abstractions, Malevich with his affection for monolithic simplicity, Martin and her elegant graphs, which always looked like silent musical compositions in the first place, and Twombly with his gestural simplicity. One looks forward to another set of Kannenberg MP3s at an exhibition; here’s a vote for Robert Ryman, Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian and, just for the fun of it, Jack Kirby. Available for free download here from the Stasisfield netlabel, which Kanneberg runs. More info at stasisfield.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
• 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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