Once upon a time, when the Earth rotated at 33 1/3, or 45, or 78, messages were regularly hidden in the inner circles of record albums. Little phrases — bits of wordplay, shoutouts, cryptic mantras — were scratched into the masters of vinyl releases, in between where the last track on a given side ended and where the adhered paper label’s outer edge began. (It’s still the case now, perhaps even more common as a matter of percentages, but that’s out of a far smaller amount of vinyl being produced each year.) These messages on the vinyl had an intimacy, a peculiarity, that made them something apart from commentary. Liner notes, in contrast, sought to lend meaning to a record album — sometimes full essays, like the ones on the back of jazz covers, and sometimes just tiny-type references to session players and equipment. Not quite packaging, not quite lyric, the inner-groove messages were only there if you looked for them. In the pre-Internet days, it might take weeks, or a chance encounter with a super fan, to decode what they meant. This message, a wonderfully terrible joke about the Energizer Bunny, appears on the internal circuitry of a synthesizer module. The other side of the module is where the patch cables go in and out. This side is the works, the soldered PCB board where information is encoded, and the information is about how sound and signal are processed. The bunny joke is the only part of this side of the device that’s human-readable.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• 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. 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 oup.com.)
• 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.
• 0499 / Out of the Landscape / The Assignment: Record a piece of music in which a sound emerges from a field recording.
• 0498 / Sonic Entomologist / The Assignment: Create a new hybrid insect from the sound of two different insects.
• 0497 / Benjamin's Glass / The Assignment: Pay tribute to Benjamin Franklin and his armonica
• 0496 / Isolation Room / The Assignment: Create new music around one strand of something you made in the past.
• 0495 / Protip Etude / The Assignment: Share a tip for making music or working with sound, and record a track that employs it.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 499 consecutive weeks to date.
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