New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

tag: classical

Current Favorites: Fahey, Hsu, Richter/Vivaldi

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

My 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:

▰ More power to drummer José Medeles for this upcoming tribute to John Fahey, featuring guitarists Matt Ward, Marisa Anderson, and Chris Funk: Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems. Three tracks online so far, and each hits the murky, crepuscular, Fahey-ian mark in its own way. Medeles is based in Portland, Oregon.

▰ There’s one track up so far from Yenting Hsu’s forthcoming Flash 須臾. “Unknown 未知” mixes industrial, textural, and droning sounds into a single, focused, contemplative track. Mesmerizing. She’s from Taiwan. The label is the London-based Ash International.

▰ Hard to believe its been a full decade since Max Richter reworked Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as part of Deutsche Grammophon’s Recomposed series. He’s newly revisiting the music. There are several videos up on his YouTube channel, including this one, featuring violinist Elena Urioste and the musicians of Chineke! Orchestra:

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Easing into Max Richter

A conductor leads the way

The conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser pulled a fascinating fast one on his audience at the San Francisco Symphony on Saturday night. Or perhaps more to the point, he pulled a slow one. He was leading a crowd-pleasing collection of short pieces, a dozen total divided in half by an intermission. Midway through the second half of the program, he was due to introduce Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight.” The orchestra had just finished “Duel of the Fates” (minus the choral part), a John Williams cue from the first Star Wars prequel, A Phantom Menance.

To ease from the heavy drama of Jedi/Sith fighting to Richter’s ambient post-classical composition, Bartholomew-Poyser returned to something he had talked about earlier in the evening, how great music can connect to — can express — powerful human emotions. But unlike with, say, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet (which the conductor naturally associated with the teenage experience of first love), after the Williams he seemed to go off on a tangent. He talked about how teens often feel “stressed,” and he recommended a “box breathing” exercise to center and calm oneself. Then he led the audience in the breathing exercise, and after cycling through it, he cued the orchestra to begin, while continuing to moderate the audience’s inhalations and exhalations, and the pauses in between. By the time the first few notes of “On the Nature of Daylight” were heard, the audience was fully in step with the piece’s glacial, peaceful pacing. He had prepared us physically and emotionally for what we were about to hear. It was quite a remarkable moment, especially because the audience didn’t know what was going on until after the music had begun.

It might help to understand that the audience on Saturday was largely middle school and high school students, there for a special Teen Night, which served up a range of greatest hits (by Holst, Rossini, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky), adjacent modern favorites (Richter, Williams), and less familiar contemporary spotlights (John Adams, Kev Choice, Anna Clyne, and Arturo Márquez, plus Bartholomew-Poyser himself), as well as George Walker, who fits in none of these categories, but whose gentle Lyric for Strings was quite lovely, and a fine pair to the Richter. Bartholomew-Poyser was an able ambassador for the young audience, and I dare say conductors for adult audiences might consider a similar introduction.

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Squarepusher on Guitar

By Aphex Twin interpreter Simon Farintosh

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:

Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Farintosh at simonfarintosh.com.

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Current Favorites: Büşra Kayıkçı, Vitiello x Quiet Club, Circuitghost

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

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.

▰ The Turkish musician Büşra Kayıkçı is the latest musician featured in the excellent Project XII series from Deutsche Grammophon. Her new single, “Bring the Light,” is a propulsive, athletic take on Philip Glass’ arpeggio-heavy minimalism. Listen for how she carves out space for individual notes amid the flurry. It’s tremendous.


▰ There’s not much in the way of liner notes for That Which Remains, a new EP by Circuitghost, but over on the llllllll.co message board, it’s explained to be remnants from a previous EP, All That We Lost. It’s a beautiful amalgam of small sounds in which textures are put to percolating, rhythmic use.


▰ This 2017 collaboration between the Quiet Club, an Irish collective, and Stephen Vitiello, the American sound artist, just popped up on Bandcamp. Titled Black Iris, it’s an ever-changing assortment of sound objects, from bells to scifi wiggles, borrowed audio narrative to dramatic creaking, footsteps to feedback, just to name a few, improvised live.

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1 Harp x 50 Guitar Pedals

Emily Hopkins is a force for good.


You should know this old line, “Question: What was the acoustic guitar called before the electric guitar? Answer: the guitar.” Now, here’s a new one: “Question: What was the guitar pedal called after Emily Hopkins? Answer: the pedal.”

Emily Hopkins’ videos are always a treat. She regularly puts her massive harp through guitar pedals, transforming both in the process. We hear the harp as it is rarely heard, and we hear the pedals put to use that is unusual for them, as well. In this video, Hopkins plays the same exact phrase through no fewer than 50 guitar pedals. Sometimes we just hear the phrase, rendered through echo, or delay, or crushed nearly beyond recognition; others we hear it on repeat as the pedal is itself manipulated — or, in a manner of speaking, played. The result is a sparkly rainbow of electronic possibility.

Video originally posted at YouTube.

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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).
    • 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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