This is 2005’s final Downstream entry. Seems appropriate to end on something from the test tube netlabel, based out of Portugal. In less than a year and a half, test tube has earned a reputation as a key locale for original, freely downloadable music. Even those test tube releases that are not explicitly electronica, like DOPO‘s Last Blues, to Be Read Someday, the label’s 30th, have an ambient intent. DOPO are reminiscent of John Fahey and Boxhead Ensemble at their most blissfully meandering. Listen on “I Can See the Church Clock from the Window” (MP3) to how the background feedback drone tempts the drummer to cool his heels, or on “Seaweed” (MP3) how woodwind and accordion (the latter bringing to mind Dino Saluzzi’s better work on ECM) merge into one sinuous wave of warmth. The real keeper on this four-track album is “Distance Again Expands” (MP3), five and a half minutes of a solemn riff played against a sonar beat, like some aged Celtic band’s idea of minimal techno. The files are compressed at varying bit rates, none smaller than 470kbps (three times the size of the average netlabel download), so the sound quality is extremely good. Check out DOPO’s Last Blues at monocromatica.com/netlabel.
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 28, 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 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.
• 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.
• 0489 / The Prestige / The Assignment: Apply some magic to ABA form.
• 0488 / Reverse Delay / The Assignment: Do something you've been putting off.
• 0487 / Carillon Quotidian / The Assignment: Turn a recurring sound from your life into music.
• 0486 / Earths Days / The Assignment: Celebrate Earth Day on or for another planet.
• 0485 / Strange Weather / The Assignment: Remix the pure sounds of Chris Kallmyer's traveling wind chimes to your own musical purposes.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 489 consecutive weeks to date.
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