The sounds of footsteps, birdsong, and occasional beeps accompany Håkan Lidbo as he walks around Stockholm, Sweden, in this video he posted on May 31. The beeps aren’t a soundtrack, any more than are the other heard elements. The beeps are the result of proximity alerts courtesy of the Corona Hat he’s seen wearing. The hat, Lidbo’s own invention, looks like what might have happened had Devo been given control of the CDC back in January. Costing less than 20 euros, it’s constructed from a parking sensors and a globe. Lidbo has a very specific recommendation for powering it: “rechargeable robot vacuum cleaner batteries.” He notes in the accompanying explanatory text that Sweden has not been enforcing lockdown. The hat appears to be his informed precaution.
Major thanks to Michael Calore of Wired for drawing my attention to the video. I’m sad to say I lost track of Lidbo for more than a decade. According to the disquiet.com archive search, I first wrote about his music back in early 2004, but haven’t since mid-2009. According to the massive navigation at his own website, he’s been up to an enormous amount in the intervening years. Plenty to dig into.
There haven’t been any Buddha Machine Variations in a few days, but there’s been a lot of activity, some of it futile (thus far), but progress is being made. This is a cable intended to connect the ER-301 module to a 16n faderbank via i2c, a nearly 40-year-old data transfer system (see wikipedia.org). I use the word “intended” because so far the connection is befuddling me.
Customary rear view of printed circuit board before the device returns to the generous pool of second-hand synthesizer modules. This is the Monome Walk (Monome being the manufacturer, Walk the module), so named because it lets you attach two foot pedals to send triggers and the like. It’s a great module, but I got two smaller modules that accomplish much of what it is useful for, and it’s time for a change.
This isn’t an ornamental choice. The black face plate will allow me to put the silver-faced module horizontal (rather than vertical) into a new, small modular synthesizer case (the one seen in the video I posted two days ago).
This is the rear of another module I’ve enjoyed but am putting back into the pool. It’s the Befaco Muxlicer, and in many ways it did exactly what I wanted, sorting through variations, treating disparate elements as equals. But I’m going to try some other approaches to the same end, and see what comes of it. I may end up with one of these again down the road, but for the time being I’m keeping my setup fairly compact. Before sending it off, I wanted to capture its beautiful printed circuit board.
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
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming 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.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming 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.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.