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.
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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