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Monthly Archives: December 2006

Post-Video Game MP3

At just under six minutes, Michael Bross‘ “Oscuro,” off his new Everything Is Now album, is fine instrumental pop, slowly acquiring layers of percussion, sounds, rifflets and nuance as it makes its way toward the six-minute mark (MP3). Perhaps best known for his video game scores (two Oddworld titles, Black Dahlia, Ripper), Bross has a pop aficionado’s instinct for the pithy melodic moment and a sound designer’s sense of how much depth can be instilled in such a moment. More info at bross.com.

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Unsilent Xmas MP3s

Since 1992, the composer Phil Kline has hosted an annual event between Thanksgiving and Christmas that serves as a kind of semi-secular carolling, a hybrid of sound art and holiday festivities. His “Unsilent Night” is a four-track participatory composition. Individuals put one of the constituent parts, each 45 minutes in length, onto tape, CDR or an MP3 player, and broadcast them in unison in public, originally on boomboxes, now on all manner of equipment. The trick is that unison is hard to achieve, even if everyone assembled listens closely as the lead caroller counts down on a megaphone. The sounds are a mix of chimey percussion, resonant synths and some church-ready vocalizing. The four tracks are compressed into Zip files on Kline’s site and make for seasonal listening, before, during and after Xmas, philkline.com (ZIP, ZIP, ZIP, ZIP).

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Japanese Pop-Noise MP3s

Taeji Sawai offers up several free downloads on his personal site (taeji.org) that find various means to balance two divergent tendencies: noise and pop. “BBBB” plays static like it’s a tenuous vocal above a minimal techno beat, drums entering tentatively, breaks lending a certain drama (MP3). Ditto “erty” (MP3), which is a little more straightforward, with its cash-register metrics and android birdsong. A track titled “losi” is a real ear-opener (MP3); it starts with this escalating interference that suggests another entry in the ever-expanding catalog of Japanese noise, but then that raspy sound tapers into a rough rhythm, with a light melody that plays at quarter speed.

One other highlight is “Something in the Way” (MP3), which pairs Sawai with vocalist Aco for a lovely bit of trip-hop that brings to mind how fruitful, not to mention natural, are the overlaps between hip-hop and experimental electronic music in Japan. There is also an inexplicable cover of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”

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Early Clark MP3s

The latest album by Clark, Body Riddle (Warp), was preceded by a flurry of his own blogging promotion: three free downloads in quick succession at throttleclark.com; all of them were mentioned as part of the Disquiet.com Downstream. A model Warp Records musician, he torques rhythms until they bleed melodies and enjoys the pliant space between abstraction and danceability. Over at his myspace page (myspace.com/throttleclark) are a handful of additional tracks, two of ’em downloadable, one from 1998 (MP3), the other from 2002 (MP3). The former is elastic and fuzzy, the shifting give’n’take percussion of drum’n’bass filtered through a minimal-techno sound pipe, all compressed and tensile. The latter is more vibrant and chaotic, with a gooey, chiming lead line amid the drummy madness. It closes on a snippet of what sounds like TV theme music, which in this context brings to mind the great Throbbing Pouch of Wagon Christ, which in 1998 may well still have been ringing in Clark’s ears.

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Sparkly MP3s

All the music, none of the dank. Three days of experimental music went down in Glasgow at the Arches back in mid-October of this year, under the broad banner of the Instal festival, and much of it has been uploaded for free download. One highlight (well, two) is a pair of pieces by Lee Patterson, both performed on October 14. Judging by a small photo on the Instal site, the 15-minute “Sparklers” was recorded with just that, the safe firecracker alternative miked for all its fizzy complexity (MP3). Patterson’s “Table Top Set” has a more diverse pallette, including “syrup, tiny bottles and boiling water” (MP3). More info at arika.org.uk.

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  • about

  • 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

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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the 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.)

  • 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.

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    0546 / Code Notes / The Assignment: Make music that includes a secret message.
    0545 / Unself-Awareness / The Assignment: Learn from feedback intended for others.
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