“Two sine waves entwined pass me by Part 2 (2021)” by Andreas Tilliander, the musician who sometimes goes by Repeatle, is far more than two sine waves. And fair warning, the image in the accompanying video is stroboscopic in a manner that certainly aligns with the title’s aesthetic approach — in which patterning pushes the sensory limits — but also might, for some people, provoke seizures.
That isn’t the point, of course. This isn’t aggressive music, and the strobing of the video isn’t an anti-social act. It is a thriving thing, and a beautiful one at that. The filament-like symmetries we watch flutter through various formations, a kind of nanotech Rorschach or moiré ballet, while Repeatle’s music explores a kind of industrial babbling, ripples of drones serving as nubbed percussion, eager metrics plotted with soft edges.
After releasing a remarkable collection of Aphex Twin transcriptions for classical guitar earlier this year, Simon Farintosh has now tackled some music by Aphex peer Squarepusher. The track “Tommib” originally appeared on Squarepusher’s 2001 album Go Plastic. It’s brief, not even a minute and a half, though its placid pace and lilting melody extend time a bit. In Farintosh’s hands, the original synthesizer piece takes on an even more folk-classical feel, the lilt even more clear — a bit Spanish, a bit Celtic, but still all Squarepusher. I interviewed Farintosh about the Aphex Twin transcriptions back in February. He explained at the time: “I think that in a sense, every transcription is a cover. … The reverse is not true, however.” What he’s getting at is that there is more to a transcription than tracing the main melody and mapping out the chords. His work gets at the inner workings of the piece. Listen to the original to compare:
There are numerous elements in “Du clos de l’ouvert” and “Se pencher sur la forme d’un fil, I,” the two tracks made available for streaming from Frédéric Tentelier’s On Établit un Temps, On Creuse un Épais. The album was released earlier this month by Hitorri, a label from Tokyo, Japan. The accompanying text lists its contents, “field recordings, Fender Rhodes, organs, banjo, objects,” and judging by these two pieces, “objects” should come first in the list, so flush is the album with sounds that while not identifiable are contraindicatory of any sort of standard issue instrument. Instead there is a subtle chamber music of cracks and thwaps and creaks and knocks, with drones and bell tones and bits of melodic suggestiveness in between. And higher still on the list of materials should be “silence,” because beautiful as the source audio scraps are in combination, what really makes them work is how much space there is between them and within them, how the slightest sound is allowed full center-stage presence, and how any two bits might be separated by a significant lull. The silences are so prominent that even when they are absent, the music is heard against them as a backdrop. When sounds quiet down, they aren’t merely quiet. They are exposing the silence around them.
A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.
▰ “In CV”: not just Terry Riley’s “In C” performed on modular synthesizer, but with a module specifically designed to play it. (via Jason Wehmhoener)
▰ Sarah Davachi has announced Antiphonals for release this coming September. For now there is one track, “Rushes Recede,” overlapping waves giving way to something more expressly gothic and churchly:
▰ I missed the Robin Rimbaud show last weekend, and am digging this 13-minute video excerpt of the full performance: pulsing minimalist beats and haunting voice (or voice-like material). Submerge:
I do this manually each Saturday, collating recent tweets I made at twitter.com/disquiet, my public notebook. Some tweets pop up (in expanded form or otherwise) on Disquiet.com sooner. It’s personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud.
▰ My favorite morning sound remains the ice cubes clinking/fizzing in my coffee. I have a new one too. I hooked up a CD player/recorder so it’s always connected to my laptop when I’m at my desk, and in the morning when I turn everything on it emits delightful “R2D2 wakes up” whirs.
▰ Cameo, but 45-minute (real-time) music lessons from as wide an array of musicians as one could hope for. More like Cameo x Patreon.
▰ “Your pinky is like your secret weapon.”
(Thing I heard myself say in guitar class.)
(Lest there be any confusion in the matter, I am the student.)
▰ I find that music-making tools I’m drawn to are often those with active communities online. I then wonder what connection there is between building a community and building an instrument beyond both expressions including the word “build.”
▰ This week, Disquiet Junto participants share a protip and make music as an example (disquiet.com/0495). These are some of ’em:
trying new things
▰ And on that note, have a good weekend. Get fresh air. Listen as you do so. Thank someone who made the past year livable. Re-read a favorite book while focusing on a stylistic element or secondary plot. See you Monday, or maybe Tuesday.
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
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• December 28, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in 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.)
• 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.
• 0507 / In DD’s Key of C / The Assignment: Make music with 10 acoustic instrument samples all in a shared key.
• 0506 / Wipe Out / The Assignment: Take something whole and erase half of it.
• 0505 / Line Out / The Assignment: Share a track, get feedback, and give feedback.
• 0504 / Transform Formula / The Assignment: Take a sound, change it, and contrast that with the original.
• 0503 / Sing Song / The Assignment: Record a song using only your voice transformed beyond recognition.