New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Canada’s Finest Electronics

Daniel Lanois teams up with Venetian Snares

When Daniel Lanois released Goodbye to Language last year, he brought background to foreground. He made a full-length album flush with the gentle, rootsy, sing-song ambience that had informed decades of high-profile production work he’d done for the likes of Bob Dylan and U2, among others, and in turn connected that work back to his early ambient recordings with Brian Eno, notably Ambient 4: On Land and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

Goodbye to Language was easily one of the finest electronic albums of 2016, and also of Lanois’ extensive career. The mix of guitar, pedal steel, and various electronic processing techniques yielded a classic ambient record, which is to say one that is just as beautiful played loud as it is at low, wallpaper-music levels.

The resulting question was, what comes next? Because what comes next will further define what Goodbye to Language was all about. On the one hand, the album can be read as a standalone recording, like Lou Reed’s Hudson River Wind Meditations or Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, records that (to varying degrees) bear little resemblance to the majority of the artists’ broader catalog of work. On the other, it could be considered a formal statement of where Lanois is headed.

The videos that surfaced with Goodbye to Language put Lanois front and center in a way that he’s not always presented himself. He’s often been more comfortable as an éminence grise, the figure behind the curtain, or when on stage quite close to the curtain. Take for example Black Dub, the band he put together with Daryl Johnson on bass, Trixie Whitley on vocals, and Brian Blade on drums. Anyone unfamiliar with Lanois wouldn’t necessarily get his centrality to the band’s existence while watching them play; in the video for the band’s “Nomad,” the camera spends considerable time on Blade’s drumming during Lanois’ understated guitar solo. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t had his share of singer-songwriter outings over the years. However, what makes Goodbye to Language so powerful is how he puts himself out there without saying a word. There’s no lead-singer swagger, no folk-circuit storytelling. There’s simply gorgeous sound.

Over the past few weeks, it’s become clear that Lanois has no plans to leave that gorgeous sound behind. Three weeks ago he posted a pair of live videos of alternate versions of two tracks off Goodbye to Language, intimate fish-eye “basement mix” takes recorded in his Toronto studio. They’re the first two tracks off the album, “Low Sudden” and “Time On,” so perhaps he’s going to revisit the full set. Better yet, today he posted “Night,” a murky live performance video of him in collaboration with a fellow plugged-in Canadian, the electronica figure Venetian Snares (aka Aaron Funk), an old-school drum’n’bass character with an extensive discography of albums, EPs, and remixes. The video begins with nearly three minutes of Lanois piping his guitar into looping, glistening fragments. And then the beat arrives.

The video provides premonitions as Funk’s role, as he begins fiddling with his battery of synth equipment. He appears with a mid-tempo barrage of rhythmic exertion. On the one hand it’s everything Lanois’ music isn’t; on the other, Funk’s focus on beat for beat’s sake closely parallels Lanois’ own attention to tone. They are both polar opposites and consummate peers. Funk’s beats proceed to fill Lanois’ space, and to frame it, at time dropping out to lend focus to the guitarist’s presence. Here’s to hoping there are more such collaborations to come. If Lanois is sticking to Canadians, I’ll put my vote in for Loscil, Kid Koala, and Sarah Davachi. (According to the Venetian Snares account on Twitter, this is an outtake from an album they’re making together.)

“Night” video originally posted on Daniel Lanois’ YouTube channel. Be sure to check out the channel of the label Anti-, which released Goodbye to Language, for additional Lanois material. Thanks to Steve Ashby for having brought this to my attention. It was filmed by Sébastien Leblant.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0270: Just Duet

Record the second half of a duet live.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 6, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0270: Just Duet
Record the second half of a duet.

Step 1: This week’s project builds on last week’s. Last week 40 musicians each recorded one half of a duet live. This week you will record (again, live) the other half of the duet for one of those pre-existing tracks. It’s preferable that you come upon the selection by random. You can generate a random number any way you choose, from 1 to 40. This link will give you a random integer within that range:

Step 2: Locate the track assigned you as follows. Numbers 1 to 39 are in this playlist. If you click through to the SoundCloud playlist you’ll see numbers next to each track:

If you get number 40, then this video is the subject of your attention:

Step 3: The plan is for you to record a short and original piece of music that complements the assigned track from Step 2, on any instrumentation of your choice, live, with no post-production edits or overdubbing. You can do as many takes as you’d like, but the final recording should be a document of a wholly live performance.

Step 4: Record a short piece of music as described in Step 3. If possible, it would be great if you could make a video of your live performance as well. The length of your piece is determined by the length of the piece you are assigned. The finished audio should combine the original track and yours together.

Step 5: Also be sure, when complete, to make the track downloadable, because it will be used by someone else in a future Junto project.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0270” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at please consider posting your track:

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 6, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

Length: The length is determined by the track assigned to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0270” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: Please set your track for download and with a license that allows for attributed reworking (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). That’s in accordance with the “share alike” aspect of the first stage of this project.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, as well as the identity of the source track that yours accompanies:

More on this 270th weekly Disquiet Junto project, “Just Duet: Record the second half of a duet live”at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Jimmy Baikovicius. It’s used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website 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

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  • 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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