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This Week in Sound

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

the crate

MP3 Discussion Group: Black to Comm’s ‘Alphabet 1968’

Every week or so, the MP3 Discussion Group gets together online to talk about a recent release. The latest object of our collective, occasionally obsessive, close listening is Alphabet 1968, released on the Type Records label, and recorded by Black to Comm, aka Marc Richter. The album’s 10 tracks range from epic drones to compact minimalism, with all manner of lo-fi field recordings mixed in. Type Records generously streams all its releases in their entirety on its website, and Alphabet 1968 is no exception. Below is the full album, available via the SoundCloud service:

Participating with me in this week’s MP3 Discussion Group are:

Alan Lockett: “I write music reviews and commentary on ambient/drone, the more adventurous end of techno/house, post-dub, and IDM. Based in Bristol, epicentre of the Dub-zone in the Wild West of England, I can mainly be read on igloomag.com and furthernoise.org.”

Joshua Maremont: “I record as Thermal and pursue my musical and other obsessions in San Francisco.”

Julian Lewis: “I write much of Lend Me Your Ears, a UK/Spain-based MP3 blog that appreciates less obvious music.”

Lauren Giniger: “I’m an occasional rock-centric music writer who enjoys the opportunity to flex a little mental muscle deconstructing ambient works.”

The conversation will play out in this post’s comments section.

A little note on MP3 Discussion Group format: This is by no means a closed conversation, so do feel free to join in. The initial posts by participants were all written before they had an opportunity to see each other’s take on the album in question, but after that it’s intended to play out in real time.

More on the album at its label’s website, typerecords.com, and on Richter at blacktocomm.org.

Tags: , / Comments: 26 ]

MP3 Discussion Group: Leyland Kirby’s ‘Sadly, the Future …’

When is an album not an album? Perhaps when it consists of 20 songs — two of them topping 20 minutes each, over half over 10 minutes, none shorter than four — spread over three CDs, at which point it can feel as much like a challenge as it does an act of artistic self-expression. That’s certainly a teetering point that we’ll be debating in this week’s MP3 Discussion Group, where the object of our collective fixated listening is Leyland Kirby‘s elegiacally titled Sadly, the Future Is No Longer What It Was, released on the label History Always Favours the Winners.

Participating with me in this week’s MP3 Discussion Group are:

Alan Lockett: “I write music reviews and commentary on ambient/drone, the more adventurous end of techno/house, post-dub, and IDM. Based in Bristol, epicentre of the Dub-zone in the Wild West of England, I can mainly be read on igloomag.com and furthernoise.org.”

Joshua Maremont: “I record as Thermal and pursue my musical and other obsessions in San Francisco.”

The conversation will play out in this post’s comments section.

A little note on discussion format: This is by no means a closed discussion, so do feel free to join in. Also, the initial posts by participants were all written before they had an opportunity to see each other’s take on the album in question.

More on the album at its label’s website, haftw.wordpress.com, and on Kirby and his numerous pseudonyms at discogs.com.

These, by the way, are the covers of the three individual albums contained in Sadly, the Future Is No Longer What It Was.

Tag: / Comments: 11 ]

MP3 Discussion Group: ‘Mirrorball’ by John Foxx & Robin Guthrie

This week, the Disquiet.com MP3 Discussion Group returns to collectively given a listen to Mirroball (Metamatic Records/Universal), a new-ish album-length collaboration between two early figures in electronic pop music: John Foxx (b. 1947, original vocalist with Ultravox!) and Robin Guthrie (b. 1962, cofounder of Cocteau Twins). It’s a gauzy pop album, redolent with Foxx’s maudlin-romantic singing and Guthrie’s florid shoegazer lushness. As such, it’s a little off topic from the more abstract work generally featured on Disquiet.com, but between its opulent haze makes it a peer to the kind of work that’s often cited on Disquiet.com, and Guthrie’s shoegazer credentials played a role in the decision-making, too. For reference, the track listing is as follows:

  1. “Mirrorball”
  2. “My Life as an Echo”
  3. “The Perfect Line”
  4. “Spectroscope”
  5. “Estrellita”
  6. “Luminous”
  7. “Sunshower”
  8. “Ultramarine”
  9. “Empire Skyline”

Participating with me in this week’s MP3 Discussion Group are:

Julian Lewis: “I write much of Lend Me Your Ears, a UK/Spain-based MP3 blog that appreciates less obvious music.”

Alan Lockett: “I write music reviews and commentary on ambient/drone, the more adventurous end of techno/house, post-dub, and IDM. Based in Bristol, epicentre of the Dub-zone in the Wild West of England, I can mainly be read on igloomag.com and furthernoise.org.”

Joshua Maremont: “I record as Thermal and pursue my musical and other obsessions in San Francisco.”

The conversation will play out in this post’s comments section.

A little note on format: This is by no means a closed discussion, so do feel free to join in. Also, the initial posts by participants are all written before they have an opportunity to see each other’s take.

Tag: / Comments: 22 ]

MP3 Discussion Group: ‘Choral’ & ‘Etching’ by Mountains

This week, the Disquiet.com MP3 Discussion Group returns to collectively given a listen to two albums released this year by the duo Mountains: Choral (cover at left — on the Thrill Jockey label) and Etching (cover below — and which Mountains self-released). Mountains is Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, and they traffic in a rich and unique realm of drone-music, in which rural guitar atmospheres and acoustic elements mingle amid lush, beautiful harmonic fields. A previous Mountains album, Sewn, was one of the top-10 albums of the year on Disquiet.com in 2006 (disquiet.com). More on Mountains, including streams of several pieces of their music, at myspace.com/apestaartjemountains.

Participating in this week’s MP3 Discussion Group are: Julian Lewis: “I write much of Lend Me Your Ears, a UK/Spain-based MP3 blog that appreciates less obvious music.”Alan Lockett: “I write music reviews and commentary on ambient/drone, the more adventurous end of techno/house, post-dub, and IDM. Based in Bristol, epicentre of the Dub-zone in the Wild West of England, I can mainly be read on igloomag.com and furthernoise.org.” Joshua Maremont: “I record as Thermal and pursue my musical and other obsessions in San Francisco.”The conversation will play out in this post’s comments section. This is by no means a closed discussion, so do feel free to join in.

Tag: / Comments: 17 ]

MP3 Discussion Group: ‘Dustland’ by Gentleman Losers

This week, the MP3 Discussion Group extends its Finnish fixation, by focusing its collective ears on the album Dustland by the duo Gentleman Losers — this following up recent group discussions of two efforts by Finland’s Sasu Ripatti (the new Vladislav Delay album and the new Moritz von Oswald album).

The Losers are the brothers Samu and Ville Kuukka, and Dustland is the group’s second commercial release. Their first album, which was self-titled, was released on the Büro label the back in 2006. Dustland was released earlier this year on City Centre Offices. Like Gentleman Losers, Dustland is a melodic instrumental collection, in which lilting songs meet up with light studio inventions, such as deep reverb and mechanized beats.

More on the band at gentlemanlosers.com and myspace.com/thegentlemanlosers. Gentleman Losers recently remixed the Bibio track “Haikuesque” for a forthcoming Warp Records release.

Participating in this week’s discussion are:

Lauren Giniger: “I’m an occasional rock-centric music writer who enjoys the opportunity to flex a little mental muscle deconstructing ambient works.”

Julian Lewis: “I write much of Lend Me Your Ears, a UK/Spain-based MP3 blog that appreciates less obvious music.”

Alan Lockett: “I write music reviews and commentary on ambient/drone, the more adventurous end of techno/house, post-dub, and IDM. Based in Bristol, epicentre of the Dub-zone in the Wild West of England, I can mainly be read on igloomag.com and furthernoise.org.”

Matt Madden: “I’m a cartoonist, comics teacher, and sometime-critic living in Brooklyn. My first love was music and I try to keep a line open to the alternate-universe-me who became a musician. I’ll be channeling him here the next few days.”

Joshua Maremont: “I record as Thermal and pursue my musical and other obsessions in San Francisco.”

The conversation will play out in this post’s comments section. This is by no means a closed discussion, so do feel free to join in.

Tag: / Comments: 18 ]
  • 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.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of 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.)

  • 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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  • This is an image of three colorful rulers against a plain background. The rulers look normal at first, and then you realize they're sort of oddly colored. That's because they were made by an AI.
  • 0567 / Three Meters / The Assignment: Make music in 5/8, 6/8, and 7/8 time signatures.
    0566 / Outdoor Furniture Music / The Assignment: Imagine the ur-ambient Erik Satie musique d’ameublement concept en plein air
    0565 / Musical Folly / The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by this architectural concept.
    0564 / Octave Lept / The Assignment: Work an octave leap — or more than one — into a piece of music.
    0563 / Digital Magical Realism / The Assignment: What does this imaginary genre sound like?

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