Free online downloads from major labels and long-running independent labels have decreased in regularity as pay-per-song services have gone mainstream, notably with Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Was a time, you could regularly surf through the sites of maverick electronic labels like Ninja Tune and Warp and find full-length songs, for free, as promotional items. Warp launched its own download service earlier this year, Bleep.com, and since then a number of labels have signed on to use Bleep as the main commercial conduit for their MP3s, including not only Ninja Tune but One Little Indian, Schematic, Mego, Def Jux and others. And while many of these labels still offer the occasional free downloads as well, the site of Ninja Tune, for one example, rarely if ever these days posts MP3s on its Downloads page, and when it does, they hang around for a long time. Right now, the Ninja Downloads page has tons of wallpapers and screensavers, and just one little MP3, but it’s a good one: the first track (“Intro”) off Amon Tobin‘s first full-length release as a DJ: Solid Steel Presents Amon Tobin: Recorded Live, which came out this past July. It’s one of a handful of tracks he composed for the compilation, a set from an Australian gig that also includes material by AFX, Dizzee Rascal and the Velvet Underground (“Venus in Furs,” in case you’re wondering). Tobin’s track is a hard, dense chunk of techno, less rhythmically resplendent than his best work, but still worthwhile for in its sheer thoroughness. Check out the Ninja Tune Downloads page at ninjatune.net/downloads, and download the Tobin track directly 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
• 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.
• 0484 / A Movable Heart / The Assignment: Transplant the sounds of Chris Kallmyer's wind chimes to a new location.
• 0483 / Type Set / The Assignment: Use a recording of yourself typing something as the underlying rhythmic track for a piece of music.
• 0482 / Exactly That Gap / The Assignment: Make a musical haiku following instructions from Marcus Fischer.
• 0481 / Capsule Time / The Assignment: Record a time capsule for yourself in the future.
• 0480 / Ongsay Aftcray / The Assignment: Record a piece of music by employing Pig Latin as a technique.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 484 consecutive weeks to date.
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