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: current activities

Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (11 of 13): Tokyo Sound Diary

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

Right about 2006 and 2007 marked a big transition for Disquiet.com. The first commission project, Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet, initiated in 2006 the interacting with musicians that proceeds to this day with the Disquiet Junto (which itself turns 10 years old this coming January 2, 2022). Also, right around that time, I got the site upgraded to a proper automated CMS. From 1996 through mid-2007, I did the entire site by hand, including index pages, and even the RSS feed. For a long time I sent out a regular email announcement simply by putting all the subscribers’ email addresses in the bcc line. The world was once a simpler place.

The entry “Tokyo Sound Diary, May 2007” is dated July 29, 2007, which confirms my memory of having entered it into the website’s CMS while attending Comic-Con in San Diego (it ran from July 26 to 29 that year). The actual writing, though, occurred earlier, when I’d gone to Tokyo in May. I had a brand new Tumblr that I was experimenting with (Tumblr itself had launched in February of that year), and during the trip I kept my first formal “sound diary.” I didn’t record sounds, except, so to speak, with my pen and with a digital camera. There were 15 entries, including sounds I heard at 11:30am (e.g., the toilet flushing, someone running around in an adjacent room) and general observations, such as:

One thing you don’t hear in Tokyo is cellphones. The silence belies their ubiquity. A sign in the subway says to put cellphones in “manner mode” and to refrain from speaking. This is one of the few signs in English, which probably means something.

Also included is a photo (shown up top) I didn’t remember until this moment that I had, which was the blue neon sign for Loop-Line, my favorite concert venue in Tokyo. Every time I went to Tokyo, which I did regularly from around 2004 to 2009, I’d go straight to Loop-Line, which was in Sendagaya, upon arrival in the country (after dropping my bags at the hotel), catch whatever show was happening, and only then head back to my room to try to orient my sleep to local standards. Loop-Line shut down, I believe, after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.

The sort of writing in this Tokyo sound diary set the template for exactly the sort of tweeting I do to this day. I’d only joined Twitter a month earlier, on June 19, 2007, though as far as I can tell, I didn’t make my first tweet until October, which strikes me as odd:

It’s quiet. Just hard drives whirring, minor distant traffic. A door opens one floor below. No planes, no rain, no voices. Not quite 8:00am.

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Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (10 of 13): The Past of the Future

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

It’s day 10 of the 13-part Disquiet.com 25th anniversary countdown. Or, that time I got to ask novelists Richard Kadrey, Pat Murphy, and Rudy Rucker, “Where did the future go?”

Shortly after I moved back to San Francisco from New Orleans in 2003, I sat down with the three science-fiction writers to talk about two parallel topics, how both San Francisco and science fiction — the two “SF”s — had (at the time) hit a glass window called reality.

For the city at the time, it was life post-boom, after the internet bubble had collapsed. They joined me for Memphis-style barbecue in the Lower Haight to discuss earthquakes and cyberpunk, Sputnik and the Holodeck, the Gold Rush and bioengineering.

Murphy: I think when you’re writing fiction you’re aware of, like, 10 percent of what you’re doing. You might be aware you’re doing 10 percent, but the other 90 percent you realize when you look at it 20 years later.

Rucker: One of the interesting things to try and do is imagine an art form in, like, one thousand years, that would be something people might be doing instead of writing novels.

Kadrey: Science fiction is dealing with daily life stuck on fast-forward. We’re rewriting both the map of the world and our own genes. How can you write about life 20 or 100 years from now when you know that by Christmas some event or research is going to shake up your worldview?

This was for a magazine called Big, a single, special-issue shindig masterminded by David Peters and Rhonda Rubinstein.

At Disquiet.com, a few years later, I posted a longer version than fit in the magazine: “Lique-fiction.”

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Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (9 of 13): Reboot Your Blog

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

Day 9 of the 13-day countdown to Disquiet.com’s 25th anniversary. I have no grand plan. I’m just posting one favorite piece a day. Today’s is one from just two years back, though of course mid-2019 is a whole lifetime ago, given recent/ongoing events.

“Bring Out Your Blogs” is one of the most commented on and reposted Disquiet.com articles. I wrote it on what I understand to be roughly the 20th anniversary of the word “blog,” something I kept my distance from for years, but eventually came to embrace (most days). As I wrote at the time: Social media can be a good place if you tweet the Twitter you want it to be and work to ignore the rest. However, if there is something you really dig, I strongly encourage you to start a blog. And as is the case with the web, some of the related links (and RSS feeds) have gone dead, or quiet in ignominy, but the sentiment remains the same: If you sense something went wrong with the internet along the way, ask yourself if that happened around the time blogging began to decline. It’s time to build back up the self-published web. Thanks for reading. And even more thanks for starting a blog. If you do, lemme know.

Oh, and earlier this year, I posted a follow-up, a Q&A, formalizing my occasional request that if you (1) have a focused interest and (2) post regularly about it on social media, then please start a blog.

December 13, 2021, marks the 25th anniversary of Disquiet.com.

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Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (8 of 13): Aphex Twin Interview

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

It’s day 8 of the 13-day countdown to Disquiet.com’s 25th anniversary (that’s 25 as in years). Who am I kidding, like I’m gonna do this and not include an interview with Richard D. James, aka Caustic Window, aka Aphex Twin? We spoke in 1996 in advance of his eponymous(ish) LP, The Richard D. James Album. The purpose was an article I was writing for Pulse! magazine, the Tower Records publication. I had recently left Tower employment to move to San Francisco for a new job, living in “corporate housing” (aka: shared room in a vacated home) while trying to find my own apartment.

Just as a side note, finding an apartment in SF in 1996 was difficult. The only reason it worked out was a realtor happened, per chance, to have been part of a classical ensemble I liked. We got to talking, and the realtor tipped me off to a Richmond District opening coming up. There was a long line for that apartment but I knew enough about the it to make a decision without seeing it in its entirety. I still remember someone shouldering past me in a rush down the narrow hallway. Lived there until 1999, when I moved to New Orleans. Back to SF in 2003.

But I digress. RDJ already had a bit of a reputation in 1996, so much so that even the publicist (the person working for the album) warned me, in an “Are you sure you wanna do this?” sorta way. At the appointed time, the call came. I remember sitting on the floor of this vacant corporate housing, notebook and tape recorder at the ready. We spoke for a second. Then he hung up.

Except he hadn’t hung up. We were just disconnected. But in very long minute between the hang-up and the reconnection, I briefly thought, “Wow, it’s actually worse than I was warned.” Except he hadn’t, and it wasn’t, and in fact we had a really fun conversation.

The point of which is: with Disquiet.com, which I launched soon after doing the phone interview, I was able to have a place to post the full (lightly edited) interview transcript, rather than just the limited number of words the print publication could manage.

This probably seems ordinary in 2021, but it was a daily revelation in 1996/97. Heck, “blog” didn’t come around until 1999, the Internet Archive was founded the same year I started Disquiet (and is located, physically, in a former church about a block from that first apartment I mention above), and Wikipedia five years later.

In the past quarter century, everything’s changed about music, releases, technology. Everything except, for me, how much I enjoy speaking (and, since 2006, working) with musicians. Sharing the transcripts has always been about tapping into that central (to me) activity.

Read the full interview, along with the original Tower Records Pulse! article: “Eponymous Rex.” And while we’re at it, there’s an article about the virtuous circle of Aphex Twin online fandom and an interview with classical guitarist Simon Farintosh about transcribing and arranging Aphex Twin’s music. And of course, there is my 33 1/3 book on is album Selected Ambient Works Volume II.

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Rewinding 2021 in The Wire

Listening back

You know the font, or you should. The latest issue is out from The Wire magazine‬⁩. I contributed to the year-end Rewind section, writing about a highlight of 2021 for me: how online discussions between musicians (from Twitter to Discourse to Discord to GitHub) shed light on forms of collaboration. (I’ll post the full piece after the next issue comes out.)

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