This is the second episode of the Disquietude podcast of ambient electronic music. (There’s an odd little glitch at the opening, but otherwise it seems to sound good.) All seven tracks of music are featured with the permission of the individual artists or their record labels. It’s currently on SoundCloud, and will shortly be at Mixcloud, YouTube, iTunes, and Stitcher. There’s also an RSS feed, should you need it.
Below is the structure of the episode with time codes for the tracks:
00:00 theme and intro
01:42 Naoyuki Sasanami’s “Winter”
05:12 Geneva Skeen’s “Ambivalence”
10:42 Jeanann Dara and Jherek Bischoff’s “Jherek”
17:46 R. Beny’s “Basin”
23:21 Bana Haffar’s “Memoriam”
30:27 Scanner’s “Captiva 7”
35:44 Yann Novak’s “Surroundings (Excerpt)”
44:22 track notes
49:18 essay on room tone
What follows is a rough transcript of the spoken material in the podcast, as well as links to the artists whose work is included:
00:00 theme and intro
Welcome to the Disquietude podcast.
This is the second episode.
The goal of the Disquietude podcast is to collect adventurous work in the field of ambient electronic music. This is music that explores the intersection of sound, art, and technology. What follows is all music that captured my imagination, and I hope that it appeals to your imagination as well.
The seven tracks heard here are all reproduced with the permission of the individual recording artists — or, in one case, their record labels.
To varying degrees, all the work in the Disquietude podcast can be described as a sort of drone, or as having a drone at its core. All but one piece here are by musicians working alone; these consist of R. Beny, Bana Haffar, Naoyuki Sasanami (who goes by Naotko), Geneva Skeen, Robin Rimbaud (who goes by Scanner), and Yann Novak. The one exception is the duo of Jeanann Dara and Jherek Bischoff.
All the music heard here is instrumental, which is to say there is no prominent vocal part, and thus it’s suitable for background listening. It’s all ambient, which is to say it’s also suitable for close, concentrated listening. That dual sense of potential uses, both inattentive and attentive, both background and foreground, is the hallmark of fine ambient music.
As for me, my name is Marc Weidenbaum, and I’m the host of Disquietude. You can learn more about the material in this episode of the Disquietude podcast at disquiet.com/podcast0002.
And now, on to the music — after which I’ll explore the sounds in a bit more detail, with a little information on the musicians and some observations about their recordings, and a few additional comments. Thank you.
44:22 track notes
I’m going to take a few minutes to work through the tracks I played, starting with the most recent one, which is fading out now. It’s the sole excerpt in this episode of Disquietude, even though it’s also the longest track. The piece is titled “Surroundings,”and the full half hour of it is available in a new album by that title released on the LINE record label. The artist is Yann Novak, who is based in Los Angeles. The audio was originally created for a project at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, not far from where I live in San Francisco. The source audio in the track is from the museum and from the park. I began speaking as it faded out specifically because there is no natural place to fade out, which is very much to its deeply organic credit.
Full Novak album at lineimprint.com.
Going back to the beginning, the set started with “Winter” by the musician Naoyuki Sasanami, who lived for a long time in Tokyo and recently moved back to his native Yoichi in Hokkaido, Japan. “Winter” was part of a January 2017 anniversary release from the Naviar Records label. The work seems gentle but is quite dynamic, relieving pressure and building it back up, and moving things around in the stereo spectrum in a manner that’s especially evident on headphones.
Sasanami track also at naoyukisasanami.bandcamp.com.
Next came “Ambivalence” by Geneva Skeen, who is based in Los Angeles. The track is from her album Dark Speech, released in September 2016, on the Dragon’s Eye record label, which is run by Yann Novak, whom I mentioned earlier. The piece feels more mechanized, more metallic, than Novak’s, but like Novak’s it is based largely on field recordings. There are also elements of Skeen’s own lilting voice. In just five and a half minutes, the track goes through numerous transitions, the high point being a kind of fugue for steam pipes with her layered voice as choral accompaniment.
Skeen album at dragonseyerecordings.bandcamp.com.
“Jherek” is the title of this piece from Jeanann Dara, and it’s also the first name of the musician she collaborated with in its creation, Jherek Bischoff. It’s from the album Ã‰nouement I — forgive my pronunciation — released in September 2016. Dara is based in Brooklyn, New York, and works primarily with the viola. There is a lot of music these days that, in terms of classification, teases at both atmospheric and classical, and in the best cases, such as this, it can comfortably be situated in either area.
Dara album at soundcloud.com/jeananndara.
The next piece, “Basin,”is by R. Beny, who is based in Oakland, California. I am big admirer of his, and while I’ve only seen him perform live once, at a small cafe in the South Bay, I’ve see him work live many times, thanks to his excellent YouTube video channel, which is where I first came across him performing “Basin”on a modular synthesizer. There’s a wonderful balance in it between the soft melodic transitions, and the rougher background sound, the latter of which suggests the creak of a boat tugging at its mooring.
R. Beny video at youtube.com
Bana Haffar’s “Memoriam” was recorded to honor those who died in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in early December 2016. Haffar herself is based in LA, and I had the pleasure of seeing her play at the Sync 01 event in San Francisco’s SOMA district about a year ago. She nudges a rhythmic element that asks the head to nod along, even as the piece’s more tonal material seduces one into a lulling stasis.
Haffar track at soundcloud.com/banahaffarmusic.
The London-based musician Robin Rimbaud, who for decades has recorded under the name Scanner, sent me this track along with several others when I inquired about his time on Captiva Island, Florida. He was participating in an artists residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the same residency at which Marcus Fischer recorded a piece in the previous episode of the Disquietude podcast. Like the Haffar piece that precedes it here, Scanner’s — titled “Captiva 7” — has a rhythmic bauble at its core. As the piece proceeds, it at times threatens to frazzle, the high end exceeding whatever confine Scanner has set for it, and at times it gets so quiet, so muffled, as to merge with the underlying ambient bed.
More from Rimbaud/Scanner at scannerdot.com.
49:18 essay on room tone
This is a podcast about music and sound, so it makes sense I’d think and talk a bit about the sound in the podcast, specifically the recording process. The first episode’s narration was recorded in my home in San Francisco. So was this one’s. I live in the Richmond District, which is relatively quiet by city standards, but still has its share of emergency vehicles, helicopters, and passing planes. We live a few blocks from the nearest fire station, and about a mile or so from the ocean. When the high school band practices or there are games, we can hear it from the backyard — likewise concerts in Golden Gate Park, which is a couple blocks away.
I remember back in 2013 working late one night when I was completing my book on the Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. It was my first book, and I was a little stressed, maybe more than a little. As I walked home in the dark from a café where I’d been typing, I heard Paul McCartney, headlining the Outside Lands festival, screaming “Helter Skelter”from deep in the park. I could relate.
My neighborhood is also home to numerous motorcycle, scooter, and car enthusiasts who work from their garages, and any given afternoon, especially on the weekend, there is likely a moment out of one of the Mad Max films or Peter Weir’s The Cars Ate That Paris, when home-brew engines are tested out on our hills.
I tried various places to record Disquietude audio.
I tried a closet with lots of clothes packed in.
I tried, at a friend’s suggestion, our car, which having a curved interior and lots of fabric should be conducive, but the street noise was too loud through our slim garage door.
I tried the small office I rent in the Inner Richmond, but it is long and narrow and prone to unkind echoes.
Many years ago a sound engineer came to my home office to record me for someone else’s podcast. It was the first and only time I’ve had a professional record in my home, and I asked her for a copy of the room tone, which at the time was higher grade than anything I could accomplish, though since then I’ve been using an H4N Zoom and, at times, a Shure microphone. I loved listening to that room tone recording, and would often play it live in the same room, listening to the room in the room, enjoying the locative reverberations.
Room tone has come in handy when putting this podcast together. At the very last minute of the previous episode, the morning of March 18, when I was about to post it, I realized that when I meant to say “0001”in a URL I accidentally said “000 01”— an extra fifth digit. So, I had to go in and edit it. If you listen closely you’ll hear the edit, and many other little background noises.
Those small sounds in many other contexts would be easily ignorable. But this is a podcast focused on music and field recordings that are likely to be overheard at best. They’re ambient music, and the fissures are especially evident in quiet — especially in a context when one is already likely to listen closely.
And that brings to an end this episode of the Disquietude podcast. I want to thank all the musicians who approved the inclusion of their recordings. Thanks as well to Brian Scott of Boon Design for help designing the logo, and to Max La RiviÃ¨re-Hedrick of Futureprüf for technical support. Thanks also to Lee Rosevere of Happy Puppy Records, to Marc Kate of the great Why We Listen podcast, to Lynda Hansen, and to Richard Chartier of the record label LINE.
The opening and closing theme music of the Disuietqude podcast is by Jimmy Kipple, who’s based in England, and who was acting on some vague directions I provided. Kipple has his own podcast, which is called “patzr radio”(that’s p a t z r). The voice heard in the theme belongs to the musician Paula Daunt, who is currently living in Japan. She’s saying the word “disquiet” in Portuguese. I won’t mangle it by trying to say it myself. That word is a nod to the late Futurist poet Fernando Pessoa, whose Book of Disquiet provided the name of my long-running website, Disquiet.com, back in 1996 when I first launched it.
You can learn more about the material in this episode of the Disquietude podcast at disquiet.com/podcast0002.
Thanks for listening. The next episode should air in about one month.