In years to come, April 1 will be the day with the lowest traffic on the Internet, as users do their best to avoid being suckered by deadpan pranks. Hence my initial hesitation when this past Saturday I received an email from a friend pointing me to a full five hours of performance in the MP3 format by Steve Roden, who is known for his threadbare minimalism and is equally at home in the recording studio and the art gallery. Turns out it’s true. In August last year, at the second annual Soundwalk sound-art event in Long Beach, California, Roden undertook a “durational performance,” the complete recording of which is available in five hour-long MP3s at ubu.com/sound/roden.html. He holed up in the corner of a room and played an improvised mix of bells tones, contact-mic investigations, murmurings, modest chants and less identifiable sounds, a kind of non-denominational ritual of the quotidian. Advises Roden in the accompanying note, which includes his initial proposal, “since the piece was playing through speakers located roughly 10 feet above the audience and reflecting off a dome ceiling back down to the listeners below, i would not recommend headphone listening, but giving the sound some distance.” More info at soundwalk.org and at Roden’s homepage, inbetweennoise.com. (And thanks to Jeff Levine for emailing me the tip.)
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.
• 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.
• 0458 / Phrase Shift / The Assignment: Make music in a sequence of parts with shared elements.
• 0457 / System Alert / The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 461 consecutive weeks to date.
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