Let’s close out the week with a new (yes, new) track in the Other Minds catalog at the voluminous Internet Archive, at archive.org. Up as of this evening are seven live entries from this year’s Other Minds festival in San Francisco (the series’ 11th), among them a 20-minute piece by septuagenarian legend Phill Niblock, “Sethwork,” in which he performs on vaguely termed “electronics” along with guitarist Seth Josel, who employs an e-bow to extend his tones to the horizon (yes, the e-bow is the same tool that long ago distinguished the Celtic rock of the band Big Country). “Sethwork” was performed on February 24, 2005, at the city’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The piece is an absolutely beautiful drone, a slowly cycling hum that enacts its epiphanies not as singular peaks but as an extended experience of intense tonality. You could argue that epiphanies are to ambient music what redemption is to literary fiction: a crutch, if not an outright cliche. But work like Niblock’s also suggests that the epiphany is a defining, inherent characteristic of ambient music. Either way, “Sethwork” is deeply imbued with it. (The file is only downloadable via FTP, but the site provides clear instructions; just search for “niblock.” The search also brings up an older entry, a continuous, 45-minute live recording of a record-release party held in 1980 at the New York City venue the Kitchen for Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman,” in which Other Minds guru Charles Amirkhanian interviews Anderson, Niblock and other scenesters. The entry’s archive.org listing advertises, “No splices!”) Oh, and more on the the e-bow at ebow.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.
• 0463 / Making the Gradient / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.
• 0462 / Vade in Pace / The Assignment: Write a short piece of music that gets slower and slower as it proceeds.
• 0461 / Goldilocks Zone / The Assignment: Navigate a sonic space between the hospitable and the inhospitable.
• 0460 / Creative Destruction / The Assignment: Show how you got to a tortured sound.
• 0459 / From a Distance / The Assignment: Make music intended to be heard from afar.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 463 consecutive weeks to date.
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