My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Disquiet Junto Project 0017: Transition:

The Assignment: Make a transition from field recording to pre-existing track.

Each Thursday evening at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership to the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This assignment was made in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 26, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 30, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list:

Instructions for Disquiet Junto Project 0017: Transition:

Deadline: Monday, April 30, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Plan, in three steps:

First step: At some point during the day, make a field recording of the world around you. Then select a 30-second segment from it. (Please, don’t include other people’s voices without their knowledge unless you are absolutely certain doing so is legal wherever it is you make the recording.)

Second step: Choose one of the following two preexisting tracks and select a 30-second segment:

Option 1: http://archive.org/download/zero130/01AControlledBurn.mp3 Option 2: http://archive.org/download/WM074900/WM074-0364kb.mp3

Third step: Create a new track in which your field recording can be heard to slowly transition into the preexisting track. You can add whatever you like to the new track, and you can transform the field recording and the preexisting track. However, the first five seconds of your field recording and the last 5 seconds of the pre-existing track should be left untouched, aside from fading in and out. The goal is for the transition to be as indiscernible, as seamless, as you can achieve in the time allotted for production.

Length: Please keep your finished track to between 1.5 and 4 minutes in length.

Information: Please along with your track include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0017-transition”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Please set your track to download, in alignment with “share alike” nature of the Creative Commons license employed by the source tracks.

License: Please assign this license to your track: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Linking: When you post your track, please include this information:

If you used Option 1, please include this information:

This track includes a segment of “A Controlled Burn” by Tag Cloud off the album Named Entities on the Zeromoon netlabel, thanks to Creative Commons license. More information at: http://archive.org/details/zero130 http://zeromoon.com/releases/tag-cloud-named-entities-zero130/

If you used Option 2, please include this information:

This track includes a segment of “The Day Love Came In The Mail” by Lee Rosevere off the album Play 3 on the WM Recordings netlabel, thanks to Creative Commons license. More information at: http://archive.org/details/WM074_900 http://www.wmrecordings.com/free-downloads/wm074-lee-rosevere-play-3/

And whichever track you used, please include this:

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

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Remixing “The ‘Classical’ Button”

18 seconds gets its 15 minutes, and then some

As of this typing, the 18 seconds of static that I recorded off my hotel radio in Evanston, Illinois, last weekend has been played over 350 times on soundcloud.com. That’s 105 minutes of a bit of noise that served more as a trigger for an extrapolative thought process than as actual listening. The noise occurred when I hit a button marked “classical” on the bedside radio. The button was, presumably, intended to be preset to the local classical radio station. Instead, it was untuned, or tuned to a near-dead zone between stations, yielding a particularly minimal techno.

Now the frequent SoundCloud poster, and Disquiet Junto participant, Jmmy Kpple has gone and riffed on the source material. His tweaking of the 18 seconds has extended it by nearly three full minutes, which collectively are titled “AntiGravity Certification #4 [@disquiet’s radio].” It’s the originating rough noise, with its beat slowed to from a twitch to a scratch, along which a sonorously fluctuating wave hovers, while another flanges up and down, like something emitted from a bit of sci-fi tech in a Cold War”“era horror film when the device gets a little too close to a man paid union scale to roam the set in a rubber suit. Which is to say, it sounds great.

Kpple tagged the creation with the characteristic “cheap concrete” genre neologism. It was especially interesting to have Kpple’s take on the near tabula rasa of that static, because the other work enacted under that name has been both enticing and remote — Kpple’s identity on SoundCloud (and at twitter.com/jmmy_kppl) is one of the most accomplished acts of ecstatic minimalism in recent memory: in sound, and image (note the slightly obscured avatar up top, with its mix of Negativland-like celebrity blankness and serrated-GIF disruption), and text (a typical Kpple track comment is a mix of vibrant disjuncture and odd characters turned into glyphs through repetition and spacing, such as “///Thanks! I guess i chose *undramatic* when i should have said something like u n e v en t f u l perhaps” and “[ w a r m c r e a k i n g & d r e a m s c r a p e &rt;”).

Kpple’s track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/jmmy-kpple. Source track at soundcloud.com/disquiet. More on the source track when it was first uploaded: “The ‘Classical’ Button.”

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CDM & The Verge on Disquiet.com Projects

Technology journalists focus attention on Junto, LX(RMX), Instagr/am/bient

The Disquiet-commissioned projects Junto, LX(RMX), and Instagr/am/bient got some great attention this past weekend when both createdigitalmusic.com and theverge.com covered them.

In “Music Making, Shared: Communal Ambient Tracks Explore Instagram Photos, Lisbon, and More,” CDM’s Peter Kirn compliments the projects (“The results are imaginative, varied, superb music”), quotes at length from a discussion he and I had, and jokes about putting a dollar value on the Instagram project, in light of the company’s recent purchase by Facebook:

Now, given the Instagram sale for US$1 billion, I would value the free compilation inspired by its photo sharing at least a couple of million dollars. Finding a welcoming community both to spur on new musical ideas and share the results? Priceless.
The piece on the Verge, “Ambient Music Community Finds Inspiration in Instagram and Ice Cubes” by Jeff Blagdon, gives welcome emphasis to a major influence on the Junto project. It opens:
For communities of creative individuals, working under shared constraints can result in some incredible work, showing off what artists can put together with a limited set of tools. A great example is the “beat battle,” in which competing musicians are all given the same sample and compete to build the best instrumental track out of it.
Part of what is rewarding about these two stories is that they come from beyond the realm of publications that are focused solely on music as end-product. Much of CDM’s coverage is on the technology of music-making, and the Verge is pretty squarely in the gadget-journalism category. Between the two articles, an additional approximately 5,000 listens were registered at soundcloud.com/disquiet in the 48 hours or so after the posts appeared, and the Disquiet Junto had almost half a dozen new participants, bringing the total to 170 as of project 16.

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Disquiet Junto / Live in Chicago (MP3s)

Eleven musicians and countless glasses of water recorded live

On Thursday, April 19, 2012, seven members of the Disquiet Junto and three of their guest accompanists played a concert of music for expanded glass harp at Enemy in Chicago. The concert was also available for live streaming at numbers.fm. It was the first group concert to develop out of the Junto project series. And what follows is audio (MP3) of the full evening. As the founder of the Disquiet, I am heard framing the evening at the opening, intermission (between Soliday and Monteverde), and end. I was visiting Chicago from San Francisco, where I live.

[audio:http://archive.org/download/DisquietJuntoLiveInChicago/2012.04.19-DisquietJuntoLiveInChicago.mp3|titles=”Disquiet Junto Live in Chicago”|artists=Members of the Disquiet Junto]

The performers were in order: Aroon Karuna, Erik Schoster (with Jason Nanna on glass harmonica and Wesley Charles Tank on vocals), Jason Shanley (aka Cinchel), Jason Soliday (with Michael Esposito on glass harmonica), Jon Monteverde (aka XYZR_KX), Joshua Davison (aka Stringbot), Jeff Kolar (with Kg Price on glass harmonica), and Ryan T Dunn.

Dunn’s brief performance was an unplanned, and welcome, closing to the evening. Throughout the concert, he watched over the broadcast. The instructions to the other performers were to do two pieces: one of “expanded glass harmonica” and the other a work-in-progress they wanted to share with their fellow musicians and the audience. There are some extended silences and glitches/artifacts in the audio.

Dunn’s playing wasn’t the only surprise. Esposito had driven in from Indiana, and the crew that was the largest, Schoster’s, drove the furthest: from Milwaukee. Thankfully expanding the range of the performances, Tank read a poem through Schoster’s work. It closed with this memorable stanza:

it’s cold everywhere here… i’m inventing a month called ”˜revember’ where there’s reverb on every life sound and you get to relive warm wet memories
The evening was just tremendous. The Enemy venue, in a large third-floor space in Wicker Park, has great sound, and the audience was attentive — barely anyone spoke at all during the performances. Despite the fact that everyone performing was from Chicago (or driving distance), no one who performed knew everyone who was performing. For example Soliday, who manages the Enemy space, only knew one of the performers in advance of the evening. The glass harp was selected as the subject of the evening because, as I note in my spoken introduction, it was an important piece of the Disquiet Junto series. The glass harp project was the third Junto project, and its intent was to make clear to participants that the Junto wasn’t just a sample-of-the-week endeavor; instead, it required that participants perform live. Thus, what better subject for the first large-scale Junto concert (I use the phrase “large scale” to distinguish the Chicago show from the times when members of the Junto have performed some of their project material live in other settings).

Someone seated on a couch at Enemy, Sei Jin Lee (twitter.com/sadlypanda), captured these five videos and posted them at youtube.com:

This is of my introductory comments:

These are of Karuna:

This is of Shanley/Cinchel:

This is of Esposito and Soliday:

The audio track is hosted at archive.org.

More on the core performers: Aroon Karuna / Vapor Lanes at soundcloud.com/vaporlanes, Erik Schoster at hecanjog.com, Jason Shanley / Cinchel at cinchel.com, Jason Soliday at jsoliday.com, Jeff Kolar at jeffkolar.us, Jon Monteverde / XYZR_KX at jonmonteverde.com, Joshua Davison / Stringbot at stringbot.com. More on Schoster’s Milwaukee colleague Tank at wctank.com. More on Esposito at his wikipedia.org page. More on Kg Price at kgprice.com. And more on Ryan T Dunn at liscentric.com. More on the Disquiet Junto at soundcloud.com.

Any additional, post-concert material will be posted here:

Ӣ Shanley/Cinchel wrote about his concert experience at his cinchel.com site. He really gets into the spirit of the Junto, which involves talking about musical process as an interative process:

I also have really worked hard these past few months on live sets that a simple and focused. I’ve also now spent well over a year working in the same tuning (DGdgbe low-high) and the past month with the partial capo. its a tuning that seems to lend it self to drone really well. aslo i have spent a lot of time thinking about layers of frequency and focusing on that to really expand the guitar. pitch shifting with the whammy or in abelton to reach registers that the guitar normally doesnt hit. i see/hear a lot of guitar based drone/ambient and i really want to try and carve out a new sound or a fuller sound like mike shiflet or david daniell.
Ӣ Monteverde/XYZR_KX wrote at his jonmonteverde.com site, where, among other things, he contrasted his Enemy performance with his earlier glass-harp contribution to the Junto project:
I was emboldened to create sounds by tapping various parts of the glass and the contact mic itself. The latter method produced low thumps that sounded very much like a kick drum, and the piece overall became much more percussive.
The photo at the top of this post is from Shanley/Cinchel’s set and was taken by by Cole Piece (instagr.am). That large box just behind the laptop is a tape delay. And the glass is, indeed, from Brooklyn Brewery. The image counts as a mid-concert update, in that Pierce tweeted it during Cinchel’s set.

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Mahoney & Peck Live (MP3)

Pixel percussion from the Ethereal Live label

Mindshed by Mahoney & Peck on the Ethereal Live netlabel may be live but it is more than ethereal. There is blippy 8bit maneuvering (“The Divine Dark”) that yields broken beats, and Muslimgauze-style modal exploration (“Ghost Transmission”), as well as gaseous meandering (“Interstellar Murmur”). One highlight is a track, “The Pale Blue Dot” (MP3), with pixel percussion, these fissures that seem more like absences, sudden rhythmic moments of digital clarity that lend momentum to a cloud of synthesized dust. The collection comes from three different live performances: from broadcasts on the websites stillstream.com and electo-music.com, and from “City Skies 2011 sets in Atlanta, Georgia.”

[audio:http://archive.org/download/Mahoney_and_Peck_Mindshed/track01_the_pale_blue_dot.mp3|titles=”The Pale Blue Dot”|artists=Mahoney & Peck]

Get the full set at archive.org and at ethereallive.wordpress.com. Mahoney & Peck are Mark Mahoney and Michael Peck.

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