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José Rivera / Proxemia Disorients

A work in and of transition

To orient yourself with — or, perhaps, more to the point “in” — the track “re place” by Proxemia, it can help to focus on the transitions. During the course of a mere two and a half minutes the piece runs through half a dozen or so momentary states. Stereoscopic percussion pauses for a dial tone before a deep, bass thrum makes the suddenly tiny-seeming sounds succumb to an intense depth of field. This is after scatter relays give way to a cymbal, which in turn is cut off by a radio-dial spin that’s all harsh static.

Proxemia (aka José Rivera) makes each moment count, and in doing so challenges the ear to find a place to call home. Rather than clinging to a moment, it can help to ride the changes, to listen forward to the way scenarios shift. It’s a different way of listening, one focused on what’s between modes rather than on a given mode itself. The piece closes, tellingly, with a muted ripple effect, fading to nothing in a manner that makes “nothing” just another stage in the procession.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/proxemia. More from Proxemia at proxemiasound.net.

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Geonotating Interplaces

A work-in-progress from Jose Rivera (aka Proxemia) at MIT

Jose Rivera participates on SoundCloud under the name Proxemia. A graduate student at MIT, he studies “sound art, geonotational mapping, location recording, experimental music,” and posts audio from his various excursions. One recent track of Rivera’s is “interplace,” a highly detailed sequence of largely drone- and rattle-rich “location recordings,” in his terminology. The phrase suggests something distinct from field recordings, perhaps — something with a more precise sense of position and place. A brief liner note explains that it’s a “composition experiment” for what appears to be the Sensory Ethnography Lab at neighboring Harvard. The lab “promotes innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography,” and is run by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ernst Karel. Past geonotational efforts by Rivera have included audio-visual documentation of natural and industrial spots in Asheville, North Carolina (which surface in a Disquiet Junto project), among other places.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/proxemia. More from Rivera/Proxemia at proxemiasound.net.

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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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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
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    • 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).

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