Disquiet Junto Project 0096: Metal Machine Muse

The Project: pay tribute to the late Lou Reed's noise classic.


Each Thursday 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 in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This assignment was made in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, October 31, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, November 4, 2013, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

This week’s project is a tribute to Lou Reed, who passed away earlier this week. His album Metal Machine Music from 1975 is a classic early noise endeavor. The project this week is straightforward. Using the phrase “Metal Machine Muse” as your guide, create a tribute to Metal Machine Music. Please employ at least one actual metal in your work, and note it in the title of your track.

Deadline: Monday, November 4, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your track should have a duration of between one and five minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: Include the term “disquiet0096-metalmachine”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: Please consider employing a license that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

More on this 96th Disquiet Junto project, in which metal machine music is made in tribute to the late Lou Reed, at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0096: Metal Machine Muse

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:


Image found via citizenarcane.com.

How Hearing Shapes Your Fortune

A Tokyo temple field recording by Seth S. Horowitz


Rhode Island”“based Seth S. Horowitz, author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind, is currently taking a busman’s holiday in Japan, recording sounds as he travels. He’s posted the first of these, taken at the Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.

Writes Horowitz of the source event:

A 100 yen coin is deposited, a metal box full of joss sticks is shaken until a numbered stick falls out. The fortunee then opens a wooden drawer corresponding to that number to obtain their fortune.


Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/universalsense. More on Horowitz at neuropop.com. Image found via wikipedia.org.

Method to Their Moiré

I have an essay on Raster-Noton in a new Red Bull Music Academy book.


For a few months there’s been a small note in the Current Activities part of this website’s left-hand sidebar mentioning something cool due out toward the end of the year. It isn’t my Aphex Twin book for the 33 1/3 series, Selected Ambient Works Volume II. That’s due out February 13, 2014. No, this is an essay I have in a forthcoming book from Red Bull Music Academy. The book is For the Record: Conversations with People Who Have Shaped the Way We Listen to Music. As the title suggests it is a compendium of new conversations between musicians — excellent pairings (and threesomes) that highlight parallels and contrasts. I used to love assigning these sorts of things when I was a full-time music editor. I think my favorite I ever put together was, back in 1993, asking the music critic Martin Johnson to get Randy Weston and La Monte Young in a room to talk about the blues.

In addition to the conversations, For the Record features introductions to all the involved musicians, and for my part I wrote about the pair Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) and Olaf Bender, who together run the Raster-Noton record label and in the book talk shop with Uwe Schmidt (aka Atomâ„¢). It was a pleasure to spend time luxuriating in their work, which often whittles the rhythmic intent of techno down to myriad displays of patterning. In addition to discussing the Raster-Noton label, the piece covers their work individually (such as the parallels between Nicolai’s music and his Moiré Index and Grid Index design books), and their Diamond Version band, which has released music on Mute and opened on tour for Depeche Mode. The For the Record book is already out in Germany, and arrives in the U.S. in November. In early December I’ll post the text of my Nicolai/Bender piece on Disquiet.com.


Here’s a full list of the conversations in For the Record:

João Barbosa x Kalaf Ângelo x Mulatu Astatke

Bernard Purdie x Jaki Liebezeit

Martyn Ware x Nile Rodgers

Kerri Chandler x Patrick Adams

Gareth Jones x Metro Area

Carsten Nicolai x Olaf Bender x Uwe Schmidt

Benny Ill x Moritz von Oswald

Lee “Scratch”Perry x Adrian Sherwood

Matias Aguayo x Sly & Robbie

DJ Harvey x Ben UFO

Cosey Fanni Tutti x Nik Void

Modeselektor x Mykki Blanco

Erykah Badu x The Underachievers

Just Blaze x Paul Riser

Robert Henke x Tom Oberheim

The full list of essay contributors is as follows. Great company to be among:

David Katz, Philip Sherburne, Sheryl Garratt, David Stubbs, Peter Kirn, Richard Gehr, Lee Smith, Melissa Bradshaw, Derek Miller, Anthony Obst, Rich Juzwiak, Ruth Saxelby, Lloyd Bradley, Gerd Janson, Bill Brewster, John Doran, Drew Daniel, Joe Muggs, Jordan Rothlein, Will Lynch, Marc Weidenbaum, Rachel Devitt, Jeff Mao, Andrew Mason, Paul McGee, Alfred Soto, Simon Price, Phillip Mlynar, and Marisa Aveling.

And there’s video documenting the book’s design and production by Chris Rehberger’s firm, Double Standards:

More on the book For the Record: Conversations with People Who Have Shaped the Way We Listen to Music at rbma15.com.

(Photo of — from left to right — Schmidt, Nicolai, and Bender by Dan Wilton. It appears in the book.)

Digital Chamber Music

Attenuation and haze from Kenneth Kirschner

Kenneth Kirschner has posted one of his characteristically attenuated compositions to SoundCloud. It is a beautiful piece that hovers gracefully between the sonic realms of chamber music and digital synthesis. There are pulled bows and plinked keyboard notes, but also a wistful haze that is as if the surface noise of some moribund recording media had become part and parcel of the composition. The piece is titled “September 13, 2012,” as each of Kirschner’s works bears as its title the date of its completion.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/kennethkirschner. More from Kirschner at kennethkirschner.com.

Oulipo + Disquiet Junto = Sound Workshop

Join the free November 9 event in San Francisco, part of Subtle Channels


On Saturday, November 9, I’ll be running a music and sound workshop from 2pm to 5pm at the San Francisco Art Institute. The workshop is part of a week-long series of events titled Subtle Channels: an OuLiPo laboratory. Here’s a brief description of Subtle Channels:

This multi-day celebration, presented by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in conjunction with the Mechanics’ Institute Library and the San Francisco Art Institute, brings together members of the Oulipo and West Coast creators to trace potential literature from its origins to the present day and into the future, with discussions, readings, and participatory workshops.

Others presenting and presiding over workshops at Subtle Channels include Paul Fournel, the president of the Oulipo, as well as Hervé Le Tellier, Daniel Levin Becker, Rachel Galvin, Roman Muradov, and Doug Nufer.

My workshop’s description, from the Subtle Channels website:

Participants will produce a variety of original works in response to concise instructions, such as a medley of everyday noise, a fragmenting autobiography, and an exercise in municipal minimalism. Musicians and non-musicians are welcome.

To make the best use of the time, please bring a smartphone or other device capable of recording sound, and a laptop with Audacity or another sound-editing tool pre-installed. Basic ability to manipulate (cut, paste) audio would be beneficial, but tutorial assistance will be available on site.

The various projects that afternoon will draw from the approach of the weekly Disquiet Junto projects on SoundCloud, which use creative restraints as a springboard for productivity.

There is no fee for participation, but advance sign-up would be appreciated. There’s a sign-up sheet at the front counter at City Lights Bookstore (citylights.com) in North Beach, or you can reserve a spot by sending an inquiry to [email protected].

My sound/music workshop is one of three running on November 9. There will also be a cartooning event, led by Muradov, and writing events in both English and French. There are events earlier in the week as well, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Participants will share their work at an evening show-and-tell event.

More on Subtle Channels: an OuLiPo laboratory, which runs from November 6 – 9, 2013, at subtlechannels.tumblr.com.

The above image is Pierre Cordier’s “Chemigram 31/7/01: Hommage à Georges Perec”from the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.