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Disquiet Junto Project 0354: Rituals & Canticles

The Assignment: Make music using instruments from a future that doesn't fully remember our present.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, October 15, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted shortly before noon, California time, on Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0354: Rituals & Canticles
The Assignment: Make music using instruments from a future that doesn’t fully remember our present.

Background: Nathan Moody didn’t create a concept album when he recorded his recent album, The Right Side of Mystery, but he had a framework for deciding how to make his instruments, and even how he composed. He imagined a future American tribe living in the ruins of our current civilization, scrounging for materials to make instruments for their rituals, from everyday events to significant milestones of years and lives. The music itself would be incorrectly remembered combinations of past musical traditions and styles, melded together.

Step 1: Consider that scenario of the future.

Step 2: Check out instruments that Moody made to act out his imagined future:

Step 3: Download the sonic source material that Moody recorded with those instruments, and that he has made available to participants in this Disquiet Junto project:

Step 4: Roll one six-sided die, which will determine which of these tribe events/rituals you’ll compose music for:

1 = Marriage
2 = Death
3 = Lullaby
4 = Solstice or Harvest
5 = Coming of Age
6 = Coronation

Step 5: Re-read the background description up above, and compose a piece of music for the event assigned to you in Step 4 using the sounds from Step 3. Bonus interim round: create your own instrument modeled after Moody’s.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0354” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0354” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, October 15, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted shortly before noon, California time, on Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you. (Think of the amount of time associated with the event/ritual assigned to you.)

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0354” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: Please consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

Context: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 354th weekly Disquiet Junto project (Rituals & Canticles / The Assignment: Make music using instruments from a future that doesn’t fully remember our present) at:

Thanks to Nathan Moody ( for proposing and providing the sounds and images and ideas for this project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also a Junto Slack. Send your email address to to join in.

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Lori Scacci x Victoria Keddie

Pushing the Desire Loop to the breaking point

Lori Scacco’s album Desire Loop was released back in early July. The singular nature of the title served in marked contrast to the variety of sounds contained within. This wasn’t Desire Loops. It wasn’t a collection of source material. The title’s suggestion of a compositional technique was revealed as something more personal.

The album is inherently electronic. It isn’t just played on synthesizers. It is synthetic to its core. “Tiger Song” is drenched with waveforms that long into their blissful stasis give way to a poppy little beat and, then, to a proper melody, as if two rich strains of 1980s music (minimalism and new wave) had been yoked together to their mutual benefit. “Interactivity in Plastic Space,” two songs earlier on Desire Loop, manages computer whistles and vocaloid warbles above an overtly digital, and head-noddingly patient, rhythm track.

One album highlight is sandwiched between the two: “Back to Electric,” built on a bracingly looped thumb-piano beat and shot through on occasion with the ecstatic trill of some long lost silicon-chip tribe. “Back to Electric” isn’t just a highpoint of Desire Loop. It’s a highlight, as well, of the subsequent remix collection, Interpretations Vol III – Desire Loop, on which Victoria Keddie takes the original and, after an extended, playfully murky introduction, pushes its metrics to a polyrhythmic breaking point, until it all but evaporates. There are also remixes on Interpretations Vol III by William Selman, Helado Negro (aka Roberto Carlos Lange), A Grape Dope (aka Tortoise’s John Herndon), and Certain Creatures (aka Oliver Chapoy). Both Selman and Certain Creatures have previous albums and remix records on Mysteries of the Deep.

The albums are both available from the Mysteries of the Deep label ( More from Lori Scacco at and from Victoria Keddie at

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Distressed Tape

A live, rough-textured ambient performance video from Hainbach

Just yesterday, the musician Hainbach released a short video, barely five minutes long, of a noise-informed, texture-rich ambient performance. The instrumentation on this is simple: cassette playback, which Hainbach controls four channels on, and an effects unit. The piece develops in two primary ways: as the relative levels of those channels are adjusted, and as the various effects are put into effect.

A loop of murky, sodden, melting melody, seemingly on piano, is warped beneath the distressed qualities of the tape on which it was first recorded. Wafts of white noise, much like the flapping of a flag in the wind, surround that piano, while other lines slowly make themselves present, notably an echoing rhythm.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Track originally posted at Hainbach’s YouTube channel. More from Hainbach, aka Stefan Paul Goetsch, who is based in Berlin, at and

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More on the subtle musicality of Issa Rae's great HBO series

The musicality of the HBO series Insecure took a bit of a hit when the character Daniel exited stage left earlier this season, the series’ third. A love interest for Issa, Insecure‘s main protagonist, the aspiring music producer Daniel helped, simply through his presence, to transform the show’s wall-to-wall backing tracks into plot points, whether he was busy at work, or arguing with another musician about the arrangement of a new composition, or seducing Issa from behind his production desk.

With Daniel now gone, we still have composer Raphael Saadiq’s score and Kier Lehman’s music supervision to artfully thread the needle between diegetic and non-diegetic sound, between what’s happening on-screen and what Insecure‘s writers want us to think and feel at any given moment. But this past week’s episode, “Obsessed-Like,” the season’s penultimate, leveled things up during one brief, spectacular moment.

Insecure has always played with Issa’s inner monologues, which often occur when she’s alone in the bathroom. Those moments are tender not just because they are private, but because they show a more forthright and secure Issa than she generally acts in public. They often come in the form of short bursts of fledgling rap lyrics, part poetry slam, part self-aware stand-up comedy. They hint at where Issa the character may be headed. Perhaps — as with the Jerry of Seinfeld — the character Issa will become more like the actress Issa who portrays her.

In the episode “Obsessed-Like,” as its title suggests, Issa is anything but secure. She’s reeling from another recent relationship, with a guy named Nathan, one she didn’t herself choose to conclude. Much of the episode is a battle between her somewhat deranged inner thoughts and what’s happening around her. Many of the scenes are filmed as if through her eyes, to emphasize that she isn’t seeing things clearly. (It’s the first episode of the season written by Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny, who perhaps has the most freedom to push beyond the show’s narrative toolbox.)

At one climactic point we see Issa in Nathan’s bedroom, where she is frantically trying to guess his laptop’s password. Her best friend, Molly, walks in on her, and to signal the way this moment presents an emotional rock bottom, Issa’s inner and public voices finally converge in an expression of utter shame — the “uh” of her internal monologue and the “uh” of her verbal response to a question from Molly harmonize with each other. They’re seen here in captions, the italics having, throughout the episode, signaled when Issa is talking to herself inside her head. Issa hasn’t recovered fully, but the delusions with which the episode opened seem to have been reconciled with — come into harmony with — reality.

This evening, HBO will air the final episode of the third season of Insecure (which has already been renewed for a fourth). It is directed by Regina King, who played a lead character in the series Southland, the rare hour-long TV drama to air, for its full five-season run, without any background score. I wrote previously about the character Daniel’s presence on Insecure as a nuanced secondary figure we see making music.

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Alvin & Garfunkel

Alvin Lucier's "I Am Sitting in a Room" x Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound"

I’m sitting in a railway station different from the one you are in now.

I’ve got a ticket to the resonant frequencies of the room.

On a tour of the room articulated by speech.

And every stop is neatly planned as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.

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