This is the doorbell at the Luggage Store Gallery in downtown San Francisco. Every Thursday night there are multiple sets of music, generally experimental, often electronic, usually local. That’s the Luggage Store Gallery Music Series in a nutshell. If you attend concerts there even just every few months, you start to recognize people, and easily feel at home. Parenthood and a heap of projects keep me from going to as many concerts as I once did, but I try to make time for the Luggage Store when I can. Sometimes I just go because it’s a Thursday night and I’m free: I don’t know what to expect, and I’m never disappointed.This past Thursday I attended the final concert of the year at the Luggage Store, featuring Toaster (aka Todd Elliott), whom I know through the Disquiet Junto, and the trio of Sheila Bosco (electronics), Matt Davignon (electronics — he helps organize and run the series), and Suki O’Kane (percussion). This doorbell shown here is one I’ve never had reason to ring (except perhaps back in 2012, when I organized a Junto concert there), but always marveled at. It hints at the glorious Luggage Store staircase, a glimpse of which is seen to the side. The entry is festooned with graffiti and stickers in a manner that serves as a litmus test for attendees. It is either welcoming or off-putting, glorious or garish, vibrant or decrepit. I’m firmly in the welcoming/glorious/vibrant camp, myself. Toaster played a beat-driven set on synthesizer, using Monome patches of his own devising. In between sections of his performance, as he swapped out the software, he piped in recordings off a tape cassette player, which was processed through a bitcrusher, rendering sonic pixel noise. It was an ingenious means to give the impression of a continuous performance, and yet give him, the performer, room to breathe. The trio played a downtempo series of flowingly rhythmic sequences, with Bosco and Davignon both using sampler loopers, and O’Kane on trap set. At one point O’Kane played a snare with her breath. At another she swept the air with a brush, and the place was quiet enough, even with Bosco and Davignon playing, for it to make its own sonic impression. 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
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 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. (Details at oup.com.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th 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.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• 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).
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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.
• 0455 / Inner Invertebrate / The Assignment: What does a moment (or a day) in the life of a jellyfish sound like to a jellyfish?
• 0454 / Lsoo Vneg / The Assignment: Encode the name of someone you love into a piece of music.
• 0453 / Dial Up / The Assignment: Imagine the technologically mediated First Contact through sound.
• 0452 / Let's Scream / The Assignment: Get cathartic. Be resilient. Turn your scream into music.
• 0451 / Ursula's Silences / Make music inspired by a line from A Wizard of Earthsea.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 455 consecutive weeks to date.
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