New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

The Pulse Between Minimalism and Techno (MP3)

It is the sound that Pete Townshend nicked from Terry Riley, a trance that cut across and through cultures. It is the sound Underworld uses to signal dramatic pause, when the dance floor is both ecstatic and still. It is the sound of dozens of key scenes from Michael Mann movies, when the city reveals itself to be the central character. It is the pulse, the place where minimalism and techno overlap. Or, in the nimble hands of Saito Koji, it is the space where minimalism leaves off, and just before techno arrives.

There are three pieces on Koji’s recent free album, Luck. One, titled “Old Tape Magic,” is a lengthy drone. Another, the title track, is a kind of digital chamber music that is discernibly sweet in nature. They bookend a shorter piece, titled “Count.” The brief liner note at the releasing netlabel,, refers to “Count” as an interlude, but it might also be called the centerpiece (MP3).

[audio:|titles=”Count”|artists=Saito Koji]

It is a slow steady pulse, and a complicated one at that. Not because of counterpoint — it lacks the rhythmic play of, say, Steve Reich. And not because of some sort of intensely demanding rigor — it is not techno by any means. No, it is its own music, derived from drone, with its centerlessness, and its lack of concern for being regarded as a song, at least by any traditional measure. It is a steady stream of pulses that shift subtly, like the way the shapes vary on each set of passing car lights on a freeway after dark. The way the tone of each pulse shifts from the preceding pulse and begins to suggest the contours of the next is endlessly enjoyable to witness.

It’s hard to make pulse music that isn’t merely the sonic equivalent of op art. Perhaps “Count” really is merely an interlude between drone and melody. But we could do with more of “Count,” more playful pulses. It’s nice to imagine a near future in which someone can say that the pulse is the new drone.

Get the full release for free download at More on Koji at

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Subscribe without commenting

  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe

  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of
    December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in 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

  • Ongoing
    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:

  • 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).

  • disquiet junto

  • 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.

    Recent Projects

  • 0511 / Freeze Tag / The Assignment: Consider freezing (and thawing) as a metaphor for music production.
    0510 / Cold Turkey / The Assignment: Record one last track with a piece of music equipment before passing it on.
    0509 / The Long Detail / The Assignment: Create a piece of music with moments from a preexisting track.
    0508 / Germane Shepard / The Assignment: Use the Shepard tone to create a piece of music.
    0507 / In DD's Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.

    Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 511 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts