Drones are simply one end of a very long musical continuum. At the far opposite side is, arguably, music possessed by the rhythmic jitters. Take the recent EP by Bacanal Intruder, Room-a-Tronic, released on the Spanish netlabel So Soft (at sosoft.tk). Its six tracks whiz, blip and otherwise mechanically make their way by, each melodic line subdivided into countless little pieces, strung together like some carefully staged event. It’s no coincidence that they have the charm of a stop-motion short, because that’s what they are: little triumphs of staccato ingenuity. The track “Lowid” provides swiftly plucked guitar amid water-drop percussion, along with the fuzzy comfort of static dissonance and an occasional vocal utterance. “Wearing Nice Shirts with Legs” introduces a harmonica into the mix. The ingredients are different, but the recipe, which is quite perfect, remains largely the same. This is Eadweard Muybridge’s idea of electronic pop. “Morning Meeting for Dinner” makes good on the common if base desire of musical tourists: shuttling some regional sound (in this case the low-strung drama of Spanish guitar) through the universal translator of tech. To quote one of the song titles on Room-a-Tronic, “All Those Clicks, Miks and Bips Will Just Make You Crazy.” Crazy for Bacanal Intruder, that is.
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.
• 0449 / Page Machine / The Assignment: Read a page of text from a book as if it were a musical score.
• 0448 / Seamless Bridge / The Assignment: Create a 20-second piece of music to connect two preexisting 20-second pieces of music.
• 0447 / Listen Ahead / The Assignment: Make some music for the near future.
• 0446 / WWWLDD / The Assignment: Celebrate World Listening Day for the whole weekend.
• 0445 / Aare Tribute / The Assignment: Read maps of a river as a graphic score.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 449 consecutive weeks to date.
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