Widesky records a Thanksgiving tune that's both reflective and incendiary.
SoundCloud has been quieter than usual over what is, at least in the United States, a long holiday weekend, yet that didn’t keep some musicians from not just posting but recording new music. On Thanksgiving day itself, Widesky taped the raspy white-noise ambience that is “Become a Blur.” It’s a slowly blosoming track, which Widesky describes as an improvisation performed on guitar with various effects pedals. The beauty of it isn’t merely its attenuated pace or its loose structure, but the way those staples of soft-focus music are performed, in fact, with tones that seem more out of incendiary heavy metal. The contradictions are enticing.
Widesky is Seth Chrisman of Seattle, Washington, more from whom at twitter.com/sethchrisman.
Random Coil channels his anxiety.
We all deal with fear in various ways, ranging from avoidance to confrontation. The Berlin-based musician who goes by Random Coil was faced with impending dental work, and he channeled his anxiety sonically in a manner that benefits from both avoidance and confrontation. The track is a recording of him munching on a Ziegler KÃ¤setaler, which appears to be a sort of cracker or cookie, and then transforming it through various techniques: “running it through convolution reverb using 1) a swimming pool impulse response 2) a cheesy synthbeat drumloop,” he writes. It’s confrontational in that he works directly with the sounds of his teeth in action, but has a touch of avoidance in that the sounds are, while recognizable, torqued and contorted with deep, dubby effect.
Track origianlly posted for free download at soundcloud.com/random-coil. (Image from the film Marathon Man.)
On communal curation, chaos, and the Creative Commons, among other things
Major thanks to Jason Sigal of the Free Music Archive and WFMU for having interviewed me about the Disquiet Junto and the upcoming concerts in Manhattan and San Francisco. It’s a long piece. Here are two bits of it. First, about the role of the Creative Commons:
Sigal: Why do you think so many of the artists involved are using Creative Commons licenses for their contributions? Did you consider making this a requirement for participation?
Weidenbaum: There are many factors. The participants are generally encouraged to use Creative Commons licenses, and to make the music downloadable for free. The downloadable part is because sometimes a project will be built on a previous project, and if your track isn’t downloadable, the process of getting permission doesn’t really work in the four-day timeframe each project has. Also, we do a lot of work with audio sources from places that employ Creative Commons licenses, like netlabels, and maintaining the license is part of the deal. Finally, I am simply a huge proponent of the Creative Commons — the structure of the Disquiet Junto, the approach, is largely predicated on the idea of the commons, especially as informed by works I’ve read by Lawrence Lessig and Eric S. Raymond. That Nowaki label project I mention above is an interesting case. Even though there are hundreds of netlabels using a Creative Commons license to make their music freely downloadable, a surprisingly small subset — well, surprising small to me, and to other people who pay attention to the field, like C. Reider of Vuzh Music — use the license that allows for derivative works to be created. We focused our Junto creative energies on Nowaki as a thank you to Nowaki, because Nowaki’s license does allow for derivatives. I wish more netlabels did. I wish all netlabels did. And I really want to say thanks at this juncture — while we’re discussing the Creative Commons — for the invitation to discuss these topics. What the Free Music Archive is up to is pretty freaking special; it’s important, formative, inspiring.
And second, about all the great people who’ve played a role in its activity:
Weidenbaum: The sheer number of people who’ve participated in one way or another has been phenomenal. I hesitate to single out anyone, for fear of offending someone else. But the overall vibe of the Junto has been so collegial and communal, I do want to note some individuals — not as standouts so much as individual cases from whose roles you can extrapolate the myriad ways people have participated: Guy Birkin, from England, and Brian Biggs, from Philadelphia, have made some tremendous music, and when they’ve had the opportunity, they’ve also made the discussions rich with technique and theory. Naoyuki Sasanami from Japan and M. Emre Meydan from Turkey have been tremendous translators, in Japanese and Turkish respectively — also Norma Listman from Oakland for Spanish, Ã‰ric Legendre from Canada for French, among many generous others. C. Reider from Colorado is such a proponent of the Creative Commons that his presence in music-making and discussion is essential. Ethan Hein, from Brooklyn, is a wonderful musician and also a great communal force. The participation of Stephen Vitiello has been amazing, because he is so accomplished, it’s amazing he is available; he even brought Steve Roden in for a project. Emma Hendrix doesn’t have as much time for the Junto as we’d all wish, but her music-making is always top notch — because she’s in Vancouver, her track when she does participate is usually the last one, and thus appears at the top of the list on SoundCloud, and her take on a project is always a solid starting point for a listener. Mark Rushton from Iowa keeps extensive notes on the approaches he takes to each track, which sets a great example for others — Robert M. Thomas from London is also excellent at this. Jami Welch, who works at SoundCloud, has been incredibly supportive. The British musician jmmy kpple has forged a unique and powerful persona — glitchy, wry, vibrant — in the Junto. And, finally — again just among a handful of examples — Benjamin Dauer of Washington, D.C., has made a point of commenting widely and thoroughly on individual tracks, and has helped promote the idea to Junto members that listening and commenting is as much a part of participating as is recording and uploading. And then there’s everyone who’s helped make the concerts happen, so much support and generosity. Again, those are just a few of the 260-plus participants, and I am thankful for everyone’s contributions.
Read the full piece at freemusicarchive.org.
The fourth in the concert series â€” and the first one in the town where I live
On December 6, 2012, a Thursday, the Disquiet Junto will host its fourth live concert of the year. Following shows in Chicago (April), Denver (August), and Manhattan (November), there will be a Junto show in San Francisco at the Luggage Store Gallery. The gallery is at 1007 Market Street. The performers will be as follows: Cullen Miller (pointlinesurface.com), Clarke Robinson (soundcloud.com/robinsomniac), Jared Smith (jaredsmyth.info), Subnaught (subnaught.org), and Andrew Weathers (andrewweathers.com).
For this concert, the participating musicians will each perform a piece of music in which they use a field recording of Sandy, the recent storm that devastated parts of the East Coast of the United States, as the raw material for a live performance that moves slowly from storm to placidity — from scream to whisper, as it were.
More on the event at facebook.com.
A suite of subtle noise and melody from G P
For all the benefits of liner notes and explanatory text and technical details and blog-entry work-in-progress tell-alls and aesthetic postmortems, there is something bracing and freeing about music posted with, in essence, no context. We know the artist who goes by G P is from Japan — Kobe, specifically. We know the titles of his recent works. Given the color scheme of the associated images — blue, red, and green ”“ and the fact that each of those colors is slightly smudged and bears a not insignificant swath of white, we can read them as part of a set, especially since their titles share a theme, which is to borrow language from image work: “grayout,” “end . line . point . start . wave,” and “mesh of the images.” Beyond that, just a tag: “Experimental Electronic” is how the musician labels them.
The first of these is a wave form that takes a slow start before embracing noise and watery elements. The second begins with bird song and a molested piano recording, before venturing into snippets dropped in like scenes in a film: little snatches of what sound like a small fire, before the fire subsumes the melody and then water subsumes the fire. The last of these is the most highly recommended, more composed than constructed, a wavering line of harsh but self-contained ringing above a slow, see-sawing rifflet that serves as both rhythm and melody, modulating up and down — and that’s just the start; it reveals itself as a meditative suite: lovely, hermetic, coy.
Tracks originally posted to G P’s soundcloud.com/gaapiiiii account.