SoundCloud.com turns a particular idea of the bootleg on its head. The term “bootleg” is often associated with black market recordings, but much of the realm is actually more grey market: not fake versions of commercial goods, but commercial versions of uncommercial goods, such as live recordings or studio outtakes. SoundCloud is where many musicians, professional, aspiring, and casual, post their works-in-progress. In other words, these are free versions of uncommercial goods. For a particular sort of listener — a listener increasingly characterized as a SoundCloud sort of listener — that is an enticing operation. Which means informed musicians are posting the very things that previously would have been considered the things one gets out of the way before posting something. Tautologies aside, it makes for good listening, and for a great social experiment in sound. Take Greg Surges, who besides having a great family name for someone eking the most out of experimental electronics, is an accomplished participant in the online music world. His mundanely titled “patch sketch_2” seems to take a filename for its name, but that’s true to what it is: an “improvised sketch,” as he puts it, for a forthcoming live concert (in Tijuana later this month). He explains his process briefly: “Using homebrew computer-controlled hardware into a custom software filterbank. Slower drones and percussive effects here.” The piece is a mix of slight fluctuations in tone and gentle if insistent percussion, like a Martian drum circle heard from beyond a massive sand dune.
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
• Autumn, 2019: I'll have a new piece in The Wire.
• 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.
• March 2020: 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.
• 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).
Most Recent Posts
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.
• 0411 / Wrapped Up / The Assignment: Record a piece of music as a gift for someone special to you.
• 0410 / Op Audio / The Assignment: What does the sonic equivalent of Op Art sound like?
• 0409 / Spooky 3.0 / The Assignment: Raise haunting music to the next level.
• 0408 / Fritiniency Tronics / The Assignment: Were "fritiniency" ("the chirruping sound made by birds or insects") a musical genre or technique, what would it sound like?
• 0407 / Dark Pitch / The Assignment: What do you hear between stations on the radio dial during a drive in the middle of night?
And there is a complete list of past projects, 411 consecutive weeks to date.
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Marc Arsenault: "Are you saying, it’s like a smurf’s arm with a plum in its fist? "
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