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
• 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.
• 0472 / Jam Time (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.
• 0471 / Phase Transition / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.
• 0470 / Calendar View / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.
• 0469 / [Missing in Caption] / The Assignment: Make music that pushes the constraints of descriptive television captions.
• 0468 / Mirror Rorrim / The Assignment: Create a new persona for yourself, and record a duet together.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 472 consecutive weeks to date.
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