Bandcamp’s occasional Friday fire sale — when the company passes its share of profits straight on to the musicians and labels that are its lifeblood — is about to come to an end. Its conclusion is, as I type this, about two hours away on a long day in what has been one of the longest and strangest weeks of a long and strange year. Stranger than strange. “Strange” suggests “interesting if perhaps from a distance,” whereas this is a year from which one wants to gain substantial distance. Until such times, music that takes advantage of long time periods, music suitable to the long present, is a valuable thing. Sarah Davachi is expert in such things. As a “supplement” to Cantus, Descant, her recent two-CD set of contemporary music for the organ, one dating back to 1479, she has announced another collection, Figures in Open Air, a half dozen — presumably lengthy, given the release is also on two CDs — live performances. One track is up as a preview, “Diaphonia Basilica,” recorded on the 1954 Casavant Frères pipe organ at the Église du Gesù in Montreal, Canada. The liner notes mention the presence, as well, of cellist Marianna Houle and French horn player Pietro Amato. Listen closely, and certainly that explains the sheer depth of the dense vertical tonalities that comprise the track. But you could also miss them entirely, so tightly do they align with the organ’s breathy embrace. I’m fairly certain I was at the March 2018 concert during which another of the tracks was recorded, at the Lab in San Francisco. Of course, there are in essence no live concerts right now, due to the pandemic. In fact, this live album was released, Davachi explained yesterday on Facebook, “in lieu of the touring” she had planned later this year. This year being the long year. The long year that necessitates music for the long present. Music like “Diaphonia Basilica.”
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.
• 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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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.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 465 consecutive weeks to date.
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