The Kikapu netlabel’s 75th release comes from its founder, Brad Mitchell, who records under the name Pocka. Titled Devoured by a Shark, it collects what he describes as “random” tracks that have been on his “hard drive for the better part of a year or more.” The set opens wisely, with one of its strongest pieces, “Metahmafasis,” which floats a brief piano figure over the sort of microsonic whirring we’ve come to expect from Pocka. That foreground melody doesn’t evolve much, though he does eventually embrace some thick chords. It’s actually the background that changes the most, from light buzzes to scrappy rhythms, and there’s a lesson in there: throughout this album it’s worth paying attention to the background; even if it initially seems like ambient inaction, that’s often where the action is. This is especially the case on tracks that are nothing but background, like the haunting “Gwely Mernans (Remix)” and the arid “Ratsagain (Extended),” both rich swaths of sound. A drum’n’bass/dancehall montage (“Cutty Ranks Mashup”) doesn’t offer much that’s new, except to longtime Pocka followers, who might be surprised that someone who has produced a substantial amount of enticingly vaporous sounds has interest in these by-the-books rhythms. The same could be said of “Ziggomatic 17 (Remix),” but at least it does inject some brisk chaos. Those are all just a few of the album’s 14 tracks. One major highlight is “Cherublossom,” which plunks electric piano for funky little riffs, and then sets ’em against an equally tasty drum beat. Download the full batch at kikapu.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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