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. • Disquiet.com 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.

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.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*

Subscribe without commenting

  • about

  • 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

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe



  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the 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.)

  • 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).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    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.

    Recent Projects

  • 0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.
    0543 / Technique Check / The Assignment: Share a tip from your method toolbox.
    0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.
    0541 / 10BPM Techno / The Assignment: Make some snail-paced beats.
    0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 544 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts