Participants in the Disquiet Junto will begin discussing this book, Derek Bailey’s Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music, in a Slack-based book club starting this coming Monday, October 5. The plan is to spread the discussion over the course of about seven weeks. Last time we did an online read, years ago (the subject was a Kim Stanley Robinson novel), too few people finished, and too many were at different spots when discussion occurred. This staged approach should keep us on the same page, so to speak.
Always keeping an eye out for how TV captions evolve. This one was, I think, new to me: different colors signifying different speakers. White is retained for the narrator. The still image is from the BBC TV series This Farming Life, which as (1) urban and (2) American I’d otherwise find utterly unintelligible.
You’ll need to check your speakers. Edgar Medina, who goes by Alejandro Morse, so damages the sounds that constitute the base level of the track “(Splendid View to) an Artificial Lake,” off the forthcoming album Aftermath, that you’ll wonder if something has gone haywire with your audio system. Even after being told, still you’ll find need to check your speakers, to make sure wires haven’t frayed, to make sure a cat hasn’t gotten in the house and scratched at your cones, to make sure water hasn’t taken its toll. None of those things have happened — well, not to your speakers. As for the audio on “(Splendid View to) an Artificial Lake,” it has been scraped like barnacles off the hull of a boat, like paint from an old bench, like unwanted truths from a Wikipedia page. In posting the track to SoundCloud, the releasing record label, Dragon’s Eye, attributed the tag #ambient to it, but that seems more like provocation than categorization. The mix of happenstance field recordings and genteel tonal elements is bonded under shared scrubbing, the disparate elements united as the objects of Morse’s destructive, exploratory intent.
If you follow YouTube musicians’ live recordings, you get a sense of their gear, and even occasionally register changes: new additions, sudden absences, swapped-out arrangements. Heck, even changes to the draperies and a new paint job. Sometimes such evolutions are announced in the form of “first patch” sessions or mini-tutorials of hard-won tips. Less frequently you’re alerted in advance, as is the case with this benediction from Michigan-based musician Orbital Patterns. A new central processing unit for his synthesizer is due imminently, and this video is, apparently, his last set with the current setup. It’s a beautiful, sprawling mix of melodic patterning and peculiar noises, elegiac drones and sonic coarseness, at once cinematic in its breadth, and at others as personal as a closely mic’d hush.
It was a pleasure to write liner notes (full text: “Palimpsests All the Way Down”) for Nathan Moody’s new album, de/Still, a “musical score” that he created as an aural interpretation of TJ Norris’ photography. All the more so, because the album was a proper physical release. My copy of the CD just arrived from the record label, Flag Day Recordings. Get the album at flagdayrecordings.bandcamp.com.
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.
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.
• 0465 / You Thank / The Assignment: Make a piece of music for someone or something for which you feel thankful.
• 0464 / Blanket Song / The Assignment: Play over a song, and then remove the original.
• 0463 / Making the Gradient / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.
• 0462 / Vade in Pace / The Assignment: Write a short piece of music that gets slower and slower as it proceeds.
• 0461 / Goldilocks Zone / The Assignment: Navigate a sonic space between the hospitable and the inhospitable.