The previous Disquiet Downstream entry from the musician known as Souns, “Senseless in Space” (here, from back in September of this year), was an accomplishment, and not just in musical terms. Sure, its ambiguous rhythmic play amid aquatic ambience was a pleasure to listen to, but perhaps more to its credit was simply how it had managed to distinguish itself amid the vast context in which it first appeared: as one track among 34 (yes, 34) on the Kikapu netlabel’s Wein, Weib und Gesang compilation, a mere eight minutes in the set’s nearly five hours (yes, five hours) of sound. Two months after the release of Wein, Weib came an 11-track Souns full length, titled Lights. The key elements of “Senseless in Space” are here in spades, the watery feel becoming literal on “Orange” (eight of the set’s tracks take colors as titles, including Duke Ellington’s favorite, “Indigo”), in which field recordings of splashy waves play against a low throb out of the Underworld handbook, and figurative on “Rain,” which samples a percussive rainstick (a closed tube filled with small beans). The familiar industrial undertow pervades the album, notably on “Open Tones,” a lengthy dirge, and “Red,” which has the jumpy pulse of a small machine come to life. The album note on the Kikapu sites explains that this music was created for use during the recent New Forms festival in Vancouver, for an event with “ancient healing” as its theme, and much of the music reportedly involves crystal bowls, credited to a Christine Duncan; also contributing is Anomalous Disturbances, aka ambient guitarist Terry O’Brien. (Souns, by the way, is a pseudonym for Michael Red.) Secular humanists should be forewarned that the album’s description is thick with talk of mantras and chakras, but the music doesn’t bear the marks of typical spiritual-shop background music; there are no canned tropes of indigenous spiritual ceremony, no sign at all of keyboard presets marked “Epiphany.” It’s just expertly textured extended tones that don’t swell so much as they rise up, gently but intently, like a Tule fog. Download the full album here, and check out the netlabel at Kikapu.com. A remix project from Souns, titled Coloured Lights, is said to be due out through Kikapu early next year.
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 29, 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 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.
• 0500 / Humming to Your Selves / The Assignment: Play a tune by yourself and as if by two people whom you invent.
• 0499 / Out of the Landscape / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which a sound emerges from a field recording.
• 0498 / Sonic Entomologist / The Assignment: Create a new hybrid insect from the sound of two different insects.
• 0497 / Benjamin's Glass / The Assignment: Pay tribute to Benjamin Franklin and his armonica
• 0496 / Isolation Room / The Assignment: Create new music around one strand of something you made in the past.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 500 consecutive weeks to date.
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