What a beautiful thing, to hear a sample in its original state, to discover a source in its initial context. The subject of a recent Disquiet Downstream entry, Souns’ “Senseless in Space” (here), noted the inclusion of sound elements credited to one Anomalous Disturbances, which turns out to be the pseudonym of a Vancouver, BC-based ambient guitarist named Terry O’Brien. O’Brien has a handful of MP3 files up on his website, including the church-like “Sombunall,” off his HovR CD, and the purposefully more formless “The Spirit Molecule,” off his album of that name. O’Brien builds his richly atmospheric tracks from heavily (very heavily — there are none of the vestiges of familiar six-string sounds you might recognize in the work of, say, Keith Fullerton Whitman or Fennesz) processed guitar, a live-looping format he links back to Terry Riley, Robert Fripp and others. He also annotates his releases with detailed technological information, so if you want to know what bank of hardware helped produce the downright dreamy pulses of “Spirit Molecule,” with its slurry bits of vibrancy, you can easily ascertain that this involved “the Line6 DL4 looping delay stompbox, an E-Bow and various efx processors” and a long list of other equipment. The open book that is his studio is a gracious, if geeky, act, especially in this age of proprietary softsynth algorithms and pricey plug-ins, but it’s O’Brien, not his home studio, who deserves the credit for the murky depths of his work. Of particular note is his apparent penchant for recording straight to tape and then lightly performing some minor post-production edits, which lends his work its liveliness. O’Brien’s music, at least as represented by these two MP3s, benefits from his patience and his emphasis on slow-burn improvisation. More info, including the MP3s (under the Music tab), at anomalousdisturbances.com.
5 Most Recent Comments
Daniel Schrempf: "This is so well put. Great insight! I actually stumbled on this article as I was hunting for..."
Robert Gable: "Classical Pulse had slipped my mine. I remember at the time thinking that Robert Levine listened to a..."
Ian Joyce: "Thank you Marc for such a lovely and thoughtful review! "
Debashis Sinha: "Thanks so much for this Marc – spot on analysis. You nailed it exactly. "
Brian Biggs: "Fantastic. There’s a Rube Goldberg analogy hidden there in the electronics. "
5 Most Recent Posts
• January 2, 2018: This day marks the 6th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• February 7, 2018: Start of the semester for the course I teach on the role of sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
• December 13, 2018: This day marked the 22nd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• Ongoing: 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, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
The Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects:
• 0333 / Half Evil / Where numerology casts a shadow on musicology.
• 0332 / Lucky Numbers / Make music based on the lottery.
• 0331 / Born Under a Bad Sine / What does it sound like when a robot has the blues?• 0330 / Wax Off / Make a piece of music by erasing aspects of a pre-existing track.
• 0330 / Wax Off / Make a piece of music by erasing aspects of a pre-existing track.
• 0329 / Extended Version / Make a piece of music in which you expand the functionality of an instrument — and document your technique.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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