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Disquietude Podcast Episode 0003

Ambient music from Dance Robot Dance, Jeannine Schulz, Orbital Patterns, Alan Bland, Heymun, and Kin Sventa

This is the third episode of the Disquietude podcast of ambient electronic music.

The goal of the Disquietude podcast is to collect adventurous work in the field of ambient electronic music. What follows is all music that captured my imagination, and I hope that it appeals to your imagination as well.

All six tracks of music are featured with the permission of the individual artists. Below is the structure of the episode with time codes for the tracks:

00:00 theme and intro

02:01 Dance Robot Dance’s “Tangents”

09:43 Jeannine Schulz’s “Beacon”

14:50 Orbital Patterns’ “Found in the Fog”

22:15 Alan Bland’s Boulder siren field recording

26:58 Heymun’s “Ambient Cello & Strings on the OP-1”

29:31 Kin Sventa’s “Octatrack Saxophone Drone”

35:56 track notes

40:01 outro

41:39 end

Thanks for listening.

Produced and hosted by Marc Weidenbaum. Disquietude theme music by Jimmy Kipple, with vocal by Paula Daunt. Logo by Boon Design.

. . .

All the music here happens to be by solo musicians. These consist of Kin Sventa, based in San Francisco, where I also happen to live, working with saxophone and electronics; Dance Robot Dance (aka Brian Biggs), of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Heymun, based in Sydney, Australia, who did a reworking of a preexisting track special for this podcast, which was very generous of her; the prolific Jeannine Schulz, who was one of my favorite artists whose work I first came to experience in 202; Orbital Patterns, aka Abdul Allums of Rochester, Michigan; and Alan Bland, who provided a field recording from near where he lives in Boulder, Colorado.

All the music heard here is instrumental, which is to say there is no prominent vocal part – or at least there’s no intelligible 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/podcast0003.

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. Thank you.

I’m going to take a few minutes to work through the tracks

The first of the six tracks heard here was “tangents,” one of three pieces on Brian Biggs’ recent release Sine Cosines Tangents, a beautiful set of gently glitching, quavering tracks he recorded under the name Dance Robot Dance. By day, and likely by evening, as well, Biggs, who is an old friend of mine, is an accomplished children’s book illustrator. Elsewhere on the release he works in the sounds of the local police department. These hover just below the surface on occasion, in the form of just-shy-of-intelligible police scanner recordings.

Listen to the full Dance Robot Dance album: https://dance-robot-dance.bandcamp.com/album/sines-cosines-tangents

After Brian’s piece we headed from Philadelphia to Hamburg, Germany, which is where Jeannine Schulz calls home. The track heard here is called “Beacon.” “Beacon” is ebb and flow ambient, with a steady throb setting the pace, to which thick, soft tones attach themselves, the whole thing vibrating with a peaceful, sing-song quality. At times a field recording of waves can be heard, and the ease with which those natural sounds coordinate with the synthesized material is a tribute to the keen, patient ear that Schulz brings to the music. “Beacon” is the closing track on her album Tides, which was one of a slew of releases Schulz put out last year. I’d never heard of Jeannine Schulz prior to 2020, and now I listen to her music all the time.

Listen to the full Jeannine Schulz album: https://jeannineschulz.bandcamp.com/album/tides

Then came “Found in the Fog.” Opening with the scattery noise associated with wind on an exposed microphone, before fading into what appears to be backward-masked strings, “Found in the Fog” was the first video of 2021 from the musician who goes by the name Orbital Patterns. His full name is Abdul Allums, and he’s based in Rochester, Michigan. The camera moves around his studio as the piece plays, a glimpse of a synthesizer here, a standalone music-computer there, a guitar pedal, a laptop. (Also, note that at least one of the modules heard, visible at the two-minute mark, is from the Instruō musical instrument company, out of Glasgow, Scotland, whose founder was the subject of an interview I posted recently on Disquiet.com.) It all comes together with Allums’ trademark seesawing ease, a loping quality that is as mellow as it is mysterious, as casual as it is reclusive.

Watch the Orbital Patterns video: https://youtu.be/DrEl5H8XwVc

Following the synthesizer piece by Orbital Patterns was a field recording by Alan Bland, and it’s something I’ve played on repeat for hours at a time since he first posted it to his SoundCloud account. Listen as the echo of test sirens in Boulder, Colorado, “seem to play sustained chords for a few minutes,” as described by Bland, who lives near where the audio was taped. He knows how much I miss the weekly Tuesday noon siren here in San Francisco, and his recording provides some solace while we locals wait for our siren to return to duty, hopefully at the end of 2021.

Check out the source track: https://soundcloud.com/morgulbee/emergency-warning-system-test-boulder-colorado

Then was a piece by Heymun. You can almost see the clouds break when Heymun’s work gets underway. I first experienced it as a live video in which her small synth emits massive clouds of cello and other unidentified strings, plus vast choruses of consonant-free singing. Those clouds are artificial, needless to say, and gloriously so. They are striated digitally, and they flow according to algorithmic winds. When I sent a request for the audio to include in this episode, Heymun, who is based in Sydney, Australia, sent me a special mix, as she put it, in which she added some extra layers of vocals.

Watch the Heymun video: https://youtu.be/XyvvSXe4G_g

At the end was a gorgeous live performance of saxophone being reworked in real time (layered, pitch-shifted, looped) by Kin Sventa, who is based in San Francisco, California. I first witnessed this as a video on YouTube. When he sent me the audio file for inclusion, he wrote, “You can hear me at the beginning hitting record on the camera, adjusting, clapping to sync the audio and inhaling.”

Watch the Kin Sventa video: https://youtu.be/jlXxK3Y2VCI

It’s been nearly four years since I produced the second episode of this podcast. It would be an understatement to say a lot has happened since then. I’m hoping to continue to produce the podcast going forward. We’ll see how this one comes together, and how it is received.

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 Rivière-Hedrick of Futureprüf for technical support. Thanks also to folks on Twitter, the Disquiet Junto Slack, the Lines discussion board, and elsewhere who were encouraging when I mentioned at the start of 2021 that I might bring back Disquietude.

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 recently moved back to Portugal after a long stretch 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.

Thanks for listening. The next episode should air in about one month.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • 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

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