The percussion flanging left to right, splintering into feedback. The vocal snippets put through the glitch equivalent of autotune. The beats blank and broken. This is how Eufoteouria, on its self-titled album, makes instrumental hip-hop. The set’s 10 tracks, recently released on the dustedwax.org, are loping ventures into Poland’s after hours (there are two with guest vocalists rapping in Polish). Highlights include the muffled piano of “Spinal Cord” (MP3) and the robot torch song that is “7 am Blue pm” (MP3).
[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/DWK080/Eufoteoria_-_02_-_7_am_Blue_pm.mp3|titles=”7 am Blue pm”|artists=Eufoteoria]
Come April 5, the Chicago-based duo Colorlist will release The Fastest Way to Become the Ocean, an EP, on the Serein label. As a preamble to that collection, Serein has compiled a single-MP3 “forecast,” collecting tracks from previous releases, seven in all (MP3). It’s a sinuous showcase for what makes Colorlist exceptional.
The duo is comprised of two Charleses: Rumback (drums, synths, electronics) and Gorczynski (saxophones, harmonium, Monome), the latter of whom will be familiar to readers of this site from his participation on the excellent Spinach Prince album (“The Continuing Feedback Loop Between Jazz & Hip-Hop,” March 22, 2010). They emphasize a discerning quietude, layering rhythms, warping acoustic sounds with digital effects, the horn echoed until it become a choral section, the decidedly limited percussion gaining the appearance of semi-automation.
According to the brief information at claritymusic.net, the new album features Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Josh Eustis (Televon Tel Aviv) / Liz Payne (Town & Country, Zoo Wheel), and John Hughes (aka Bill Ding, aka Slicker). More on the forecast MP3 at serein.co.uk.
And here are two brief videos from 2008 of Colorlist performing live improvisations
If John Muir was the proto-phonographer of nature, the model of a writer who strives to capture the world of sound with his words, he arguably had his equal in a fellow activist several decades his junior whose professional life overlapped with his own. Upton Sinclar, in The Jungle, among other works of creative muckracking, proved himself Muir’s match, the distinction being that Sinclair was an industrial mouse to Muir’s pastoral mouse. Muir is likely more often cited because descriptions of verdant national parks make better yearbook epigraphs than does reportage from slaughterhouse killing floors. But there is no less poetry, no less insight, to Sinclair’s ear. By way of example, this is from an early scene in The Jungle:
Then the party became aware of another strange thing. This, too, like the odor, was a thing elemental; it was a sound, a sound made up of ten thousand little sounds. You scarcely noticed it at first — it sunk into your consciousness, a vague disturbance, a trouble. It was like the murmuring of the bees in the spring, the whisperings of the forest; it suggested endless activity, the rumblings of a world in motion. It was only by an effort that one could realize that it was made by animals, that it was the distant lowing of ten thousand cattle, the distant grunting of ten thousand swine.
The passage came to mind while listening, on repeat, to LuÃs Antero‘s Factory Music, a half hour of recordings made in a factory town in Portugal (MP3). The sound quality is high, and the range of captured audio is remarkable for the distinction and variety.
Italianate guitar is heard between a creaky door and train-station bells, and just above a foundation bed of vinyl surface noise. Wells of low-pressure feedback and heavily echoed piano make themselves heard. This is “Rumore del Roma,” off Recollage by Erik Nilsson. The title track is no different: same spaghetti western trip-hop vibe, all silverware percussion and romanticly strummed guitar, bonded by a heavy, slow bass line and made all the more enticing by occasions of whirry electric currents. The effect — a kind of frontier steampunk, all gunslinger accents and electronica undercurrent, broken-knuckle castanets and backward-masked samples — reaches its greatest achievement here on “Old Piano/Bad Back,” in which the six string is put on a loop that has just enough of an overlay to mark it as artificial (deliciously so), and punctuated with snippets of dialog and clockwork. The whole collection is tremendous.
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
• I was on Vivian Host's Peak Time show (on Red Bull Radio) on March 11 to extol the timeless virtues of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and related works. You can listen to a recording here: redbullradio.com.
• My latest article is a review in the March issue of The Wire magazine of the week-long Recombinant Festival (held in San Francisco), whose performance highlights included Herman Kolgen, Rrose, and Electric Indigo.
• March 22, 2019: I'm giving a talk at noon on Friday at the Algorithmic Art Assembly, two days of events (Friday and Saturday) in San Francisco: aaassembly.org. The talk is titled "The Woodshed Is a Black Box" and this is its description in the program: "How a rules-based system formed, shapes, and fuels the long-running online music community known as the Disquiet Junto."
• May 7, 2019: This day sees the release of Rob Walker's book The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday (Knopf), which has entries about the Disquiet Junto.
• May 22, 2019: Final day of the semester of the 15-week "Sounds of Brands" course I teach once a year at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I post occasional updates here. Follow the tag #sounds-of-brands.
• December 13, 2019: This day marks the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2020: This day marks the 8th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
• 0376 / Pi Filling / The Assignment: Celebrate Pi Day.
• 0375 / Despite Yourself / The Assignment: Make a piece of music that sounds as unlike you as you can accomplish.
• 0374 / Glitch Glitch / The Assignment: what happens when you glitch something that's been glitched?
• 0373 / Copernican Music / The Assignment: Record a piece of music intended for an alien species.
• 0372 / Honeymoon Phase / The Assignment: Record a piece of music with (only) your most recently obtained instrument or music/sound tool.