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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Disquiet Junto Project 0362: Operational Surrealism

The Assignment: Make a piece of music informed by a key text from the art movement.

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, December 10, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0362: Operational Surrealism
The Assignment: Make a piece of music informed by a key text from the art movement.

Just one step this week: Make something as “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella.”

Many thanks to Peggy Nelson for having proposed this project. Here’s some background: This week’s phrase originated in Les Chants de Maldoror, an experimental novel by the Comte de Lautréamont, a French poet from Uruguay who died in 1870 at age 24. In Les Chants, Lautréamont describes a young boy as “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella,” but when André Breton, the self-styled head of the Surrealist movement, came across Lautréamont’s novel (prose-poem /unbridled rant / giant run-on sentence) in 1918, he seized upon the phrase as the perfect slogan, and drafted it into wider cultural service. Despite being dreamed up in the late 19th century, the phrase’s unnerving and perhaps prescient inclusion of both mechanical and medical metaphors was surely not lost on Breton, who had served in French psychiatric hospitals during the First World War. There have been any number of (re)statements and (mis)translations of the phrase since, but the basic idea remains: none of these things go together, and so, they do.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0362” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0362” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0362-operational-surrealism/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, December 10, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0362” 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 consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

Context: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 362nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Operational Surrealism / The Assignment: Make a piece of music informed by a key text from the art movement — at:

https://disquiet.com/0362/

Thanks to Peggy Nelson, for having proposed this project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0362-operational-surrealism/

There’s also a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet to join in.

Image adapted (cropped, text added, etc.) from a Flickr photo by Audrey Un Riz, thanks to a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/hjFN6h

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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Playing the Quiet at Full Volume

Two tracks from Kent Sparling's forthcoming album, Mount Larsen

Kent Sparling has long been a master of quiet music. He often explores field recordings as source material, and ekes out small sounds from synthesizers and acoustic instruments alike. That work has reached a new phase with his forthcoming full-length release, two preview tracks of which are currently streaming on his Bandcamp page. The album, Mount Larsen, is due out on December 18. It is both Sparling’s quietest and, in many ways, his loudest album yet.

Sparling’s music has always explored spaciousness, the way sounds suggest scope, scale, and dimensionality, and that work has benefited from his extensive experience in sound for motion pictures (his IMDB page lists 175 sound-department credits to date). On the new album, the only sounds are those that surface as feedback in the closed acoustic system of a Skywalker Sound scoring stage. The results, as heard on the tracks “Gorda Plate” and “Tephra,” are haunting drones and ringing tones, ghostly whistles and soft hums, all left to coagulate and circulate — and to build, as well, occasionally dialed back when they seem likely to pierce the listener’s comfort. That is when Sparling’s music enters a new realm for him — music that has so long explored the fog now plays with fire.

He describes the album’s composition in a note accompanying its release:

Mount Larsen is a record of feedback music, recorded live on a large film scoring stage. Electronic and acoustic sounds were used to “excite” the room, whose natural reverb decay is over 4 seconds; these sounds were picked up by an array of 10 microphones which were fed to a small mixing console and then back out to large speakers the room, the sounds from which were in turn picked up by the original microphones, creating an acoustic feedback loop of rich and evolving tones. The performance of the pieces involved the composer mixing the sounds back into the room live, bringing the system to the edge of collapse, then carving away energy to create hollows of near-silence. The object was music with a wide dynamic range between billowing waves of heavy sound and very, very quiet lingering filaments of clear feedback. The result is both loud and quiet, energetic and relaxing, complicated and simple and pure.

Available for pre-order at jicamasalad.bandcamp.com. More from Sparling, who lives in Berkeley, California, at jicamasalad.net.

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