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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Image of the Week: Caged Sound

“Cuckoo Radio, Caged Songs Sung (Tick Tock Tick)” is the title of an installation, pictured below, by Ven Voisey, running as part of the Arscape exhibition in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The cages are speakers that emit different sounds throughout the day, mixing birdsong and electronic effects. The precise location of the lamp post is 438 North Street in downtown Pittsfield, where “Cuckoo Radio” (part of the city’s Artscape exhibition) will stand through September of 2009. More details at Voisey’s website, v—v.net.

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Quote of the Week: Eno’s Vocal Unit

This is Brian Eno, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday (November 23, 2008), discussing the virtues of ensemble singing:

    When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Read (and listen to) the full piece at npr.org. (Thanks for the tip, Michael P.)

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Subterranean Audio Document MP3 by Will Montgomery

Sound documentarian Will Montgomery ventured into the boiler room for his entry in the Touch Radio series (touchradio.org.uk). Montgomery recorded the hissing and clacking and otherwise deeply resonant doings of an underground heating system whose construction dates from the tail end of the Cold War (MP3). Like most entries in the Touch Radio podcast, Montgomery’s is at its core a field recording, but unlike the majority of Touch Radio efforts, his is not entirely devoid of his own touch — while the material is all raw field recordings, the noises have, as he puts it, “been organised into a composition” — one that has a narrative quality, a journey deeper and deeper into the paranoid. More info, including photos of the site, at touchradio.org.uk.

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Free Dubtronic Pole 12″ Prerelease MP3

Few acts have melded digital production with dub as seamlessly as Pole (aka German musician Stefan Betke). His lanky works have mixed snare shots and pixel-precise percussion, deep echo and techno flourishes, gurgling melodic snippets and minimalist simplicity for a decade now: 2008 marks the 10th anniversary of Pole’s debut, 1, aka “the blue one.” Last year saw the excellent Steingarten and its associated remix collection, and there will be a 12″ by the end of this year, titled “alles gute / alles klar,” half of which is available for free download from the releasing label, ~scape (MP3, scape-music.com). The song appeared previously on the ~scape compilation CD Round Black Ghosts, and it brings to mind the song-form explorations of Grassy Knoll and the classic ersatz Afrobeat of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. It’s a tremendous track, with slurply bass lines lurking below the expertly programmed drum-machine beats. More at myspace.com/poleartist and pole-music.com; relatively recent interview at zero-inch.com.

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Lovely Ugly Buddha Piano-Trio Mix MP3

The newly upgraded Buddha Machine (version 2.0) is getting remixed, barely weeks into its commercial release. Over at Kill Ugly Radio (i.e., uglyradio.wordpress.com), the “piano” loop from the Buddha Machine 2.0 has been taken, backward-masked, and mixed as a conflation of three overlapping samples (MP3). The result is a kind of abstract chamber minimalism. It clocks in at three minutes, and though it’s built from a sample only 26 seconds long, the repeated material sounds fresh on each cycle, thanks to the shifting context of layered pianos and the lightly introduced digital effects.

The Buddha Machine is a small device that resembles an AM radio. It doesn’t receive signals, though — it contains nine short loops that can be alternated through at the push of a button. Remixing is appropriate for a machine whose second iteration (which includes nine new loops, and the ability to slow or speed a given loop) was inspired by what musicians did with its first release. Christiaan Virant, one half of duo FM3 that created the Buddha Machine, said the following in an interview on Disquiet.com earlier this month: “It was really the fans that made us think about how to improve and upgrade the box. We always considered the Buddha Machine as our ‘album.’ But many, many people out there were inspired to use it as an instrument.” Read the full interview here: “Buddha Machine, Reloaded,” disquiet.com.

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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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  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • 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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  • Background
    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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  • 0548 / Drone Vox / The Assignment: Make a drone using just your voice.
    0547 / Genre Melee / Combine two seemingly different genres.
    0546 / Code Notes / The Assignment: Make music that includes a secret message.
    0545 / Unself-Awareness / The Assignment: Learn from feedback intended for others.
    0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.

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