So, is Loscil a minimal melodicist or a melodic minimalist? Is the contrast just a matter of vice-versa wordplay, or is there something distinct about someone who keeps melodies threadbare, almost monotone, with an emphasis on repetition, and someone else who employs the tools of minimalism (texture, stasis) but infuses them with a sensibility that’s a stone’s throw from a proper song? It’s no coincidence, for example, that Michael Stipe, of the rock band R.E.M., has listed work by Estonian composer Arvo Part (Tabula Rasa) among his favorites; Stipe falls easily into the former category, while Part occupies the latter. The construction of such a continuum came to mind while listening to four free MP3s by Loscil (aka Scott Morgan, of Vancouver, BC) posted on kranky.net, the website of Kranky Records, which has released three albums by him: First Narrows (2004), Submers (2002) and Triple Point (2001). The cuts, for which there’s little in the way of explanatory text, were taken from a set that Loscil did on Canada’s CBC Radio. They are low-key electronic affairs, more loungey than abstract, with a touch of traditional instrumentation: the layers of elegant guitar that mark “Umbra,” the Chet Atkins-simple line that adorns “Emma,” the mix of stroked six-string and what seems to be electric piano under which “Sickbay” churns along, and “First Narrows,” with the most lonesome guitar part of them all. Check them out on Kranky’s news page, at kranky.net/new.html. And visit Loscil’s website at loscil.com. (There’s a page on CBC’s website, here, with a mention of the session, dated July 6, 2004, plus a pair of photos of Morgan with two other musicians, which explains the tracks’ depth, but there’s not much additional information, and the page’s link to a stream of the performance isn’t functioning.)
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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