The eight-song Hancock by Small Professor and Arcka, two great Philadelphia-based beatcraftsmen, is several things. It’s a tremendous cache of off-kilter instrumental hip-hop. It’s the result of serious crate digging into the deep recesses of Herbie Hancock’s back catalog, in service of a remix-powered survey of the great keyboardist’s range. And it’s exactly the sort of record that I manage to play repeatedly and yet never get around to writing about. So, a short note here in the interest of that last matter not going any further. Released back in April, the album is some of the best work either the Professor or Arcka has uploaded yet for public consumption. Each track takes tantalizingly familiar items from individual Hancock songs and forms new things from them. A personal favorite is “New Loupe,” by Arcka, because it never loses sight of the all-acoustic nature of the source material. Rather than contemporize the material with synthetic additions, it restricts itself to the trad jazz original. The result is as as much a re-arrangement as it is a remix:
And here is the full set of eight tracks, half by Small Professor and half by Arcka:
This week’s project combines two familiar Disquiet Junto elements: shared source audio and a pair of dice. The goal is to rework an existing archival jazz track by adjusting it to a new meter. The steps are as follows:
Step 1: Download the song “Slow and Easy” by the Louisiana Five Jazz Orchestra from this URL:
Step 2: Roll two dice. Add 1 to the result of each rolled die. Thus, if you rolled a 4 and a 6, you would have a 5 and a 7. (Note: if both dice resulted in the same number, roll one of them again until you have two different numbers. And if you find your result just plain confusing, certainly feel free to roll until you find one you’re comfortable with.)
Step 3: The new meter of your project is the first die over the second. Thus, the result from step 2 would mean your new meter is 5/7.
Step 4: Rework a segment of the source track and in the process change the meter from the original to the meter that was determined in step 3. You may add additional audio, but some prominent aspect of the original source track should be evident in your final work.
Deadline: Monday, June 2, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.
Length: Your finished work should likely be between a two minutes and four minutes, but there’s no formal length requirement.
Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.
Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0126-nolaremetered” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.
Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).
Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:
More on this 126th Disquiet Junto project — “Change the meter of a 1918 jazz recording by the Louisiana Five”— at:
Â¶ Deaf Gaming: Interesting anecdote from a recent gamasutra.com piece on the late video game creator Kenji Eno, written by Brandon Sheffield. The “Eno” in this is, of course, Kenji (not Brian), and the Saturn is the Sega game console from the mid-1990s:
“For his next game, Sega wanted to make it an exclusive — whatever it was. Eno had recently met with some sight-impaired folks who liked to play action games, and he asked himself, “What if you made a game that the blind and the sighted could play equally?” So he created the game Real Sound, which is an audio-only retail game, and made Sega promise that if he made the game exclusive to them, they would donate 1,000 Saturns to blind people, and he would supply 1,000 copies of the game. Again, this was an unusual idea for 1996, but he felt the stagnancy of the industry, and went to great lengths to shake it up.”
Surround Sound: The Tank is a 60’ x 30′ vessel —Â a “rusted steel water tank” in the words of its caretaker, Bruce Odland, who has made use of its inherent 40-second reverb since 1976. He’s set up a kickstarter.com campaign to ensure its future use:
The campaign ends March 31, 2013. More on the project at kickstarter.com. (Thanks for the tip go to Joshua Izenberg, whose filmSlomo just won the Documentary Short prize among the Short Film Jury Awards at the 2013 SXSW festival. Jeremiah Moore, the sound designer on Slomo, is apparently also involved in this Tank project.)
Â¶ Electretymologies: There’s a hair’s-breadth matter of word choice in today’s “playlist” by Jon Pareles in the New York Times. In a single column he reviews six records. For Suuns’ Images du Futur he mentions “the repeating synthesizer tones of early electro.” For How to Destroy Angels’ Welcome Oblivion he mentions both “dank electronic sounds” and how “the electronics mostly give way to the acoustic.” And for Draco Rosa’s Vida he mentions “dipping into new wave, Caribbean styles, electronica and, at the end, hard-rock blasts.” The emphasis is mine. Those are four distinct terms, all variations on a core root prefix, all used in close proximity: electro, electronic, electronics, and electronica.
Â¶ Twang Bar Theory: This is pretty great. Over at youtube.com, Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails) as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival back in 2011, discussing the “history and future of guitar noise”:
Â¶ Docusound Platform: Promotional video for the site docusound.org, “a platform for producing and distributing audio documentaries”:
Â¶ Sonifying Auckland: Sound designer Tim Prebble, along with filmmaker Denise Batchelor, is a 2013 artist in residence of the Auckland regional parks system. Details at scoop.co.nz. Here is description from the announcement: “He’ll record local native birdcalls, slow the recordings to allow notation and then ”˜play with this as the DNA of music’, embellishing and orchestrating it. On completion, his music will be played at a local venue and a CD, tentatively called The Bird Song Preludes, will be available after his residency.” More from Prebble at musicofsound.co.nz.
Â¶ Celluloid Heroes: The first of two parts of a documentary about Celluloid Records, over at youtube.com, featuring among others Bill Laswell, DXT (formerly Grand Mixer DST), and label founder Jean Karakos:
Â¶ Re-scanning: Great interview at thequietus.com with Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, about his range of activities. He goes project by project, talking about his early work with the technology from which he took his name (“The scanner was connected directly into a tape deck the whole time. This was ’91, ’92, this was anticipating an idea of the internet, there was no access to this kind of networked world that we’re so comfortable with today. These voices and accessing them suddenly took you into a very private place that you could never otherwise be in.”), collaborating with filmmaker Derek Jarman and artist Mike Kelley, and “re-soundtrack[ing]” the final two minutes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’eclisse, and much more.
Â¶ In Brief: There’s a 30-part audio documentary titled Noise: A Human History being presented starting tomorrow, March 18, on BBC 4 by David Hendy of the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex: bbc.co.uk (via bl.uk). Â¶ The palmsounds.net provides a brief overview of a talk Rob Thomas (of Reality Jockey) gave in London about mobile music. Â¶ In the Field: The Art of Field Recording is a new book containing interviews with artists whose work employs field recordings. Among those are Andrea Polli, Christina Kubisch, Francisco LÃ³pez, Hildegard Westerkamp, Jez Riley French, and Lasse-Marc Riek. (Thanks for the tip, John Kannenberg.) Â¶ “Why Do People Use ”˜Nope’ Even Though ”˜No’ Is Shorter?” (at slate.com, via Quora). The short version is that “no” may have half as many letters but the hard stop at the end of “nope” arguably makes it more succinct. The author, Marc Ettlinger, has other theories as well, including an informative bit on “sound symbolism.” Â¶ Robert Henke, aka Monolake, is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area as a visiting instructor at CCRMA, the computer music department at Stanford University. In a warm-welcome gesture, the department made the page announcing his course look just like a page from Henke’s own monolake.de website. Â¶ That White House petition to make unlocking cellphones legal, mentioned here recently, has gained President Obama’s support. Â¶ The 62nd Disquiet Junto project had 44 participants, each making music from three sine waves. Â¶ Here’s a recording of Steve Reich’s “Radio Rewrite,” his new adaptation of Radiohead’s “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” and “Everything in Its Right Place”: youtube.com. (Note, it’s audio only. Found via the indispensable rgable.typepad.com.)
“Nightly No.1” by melynabarzdis plays with jazz components in a fascinating manner. Foregrounded is a slow piano line that seems to leave a synthesized vapor haze wherever the melody takes it, a haze of smokey aura that deep in the distance reconstitutes in the form of a reflective saxophone solo. The combined effort is a duet of sorts, but a duet as if between two musicians on either side of a massive courtyard who find themselves collaborating long after dark, when they’re both surprised to find the other exists, let alone is awake. As for the tiny little pixel-damage modulations that shift the notes up and down, side to side, at unexpected moments, they lend a broader frame, suggesting this as incidental music to some sort of neo-noir, all overcoats and tricorders.
The great Stones Throw record label has shared an MP3 teaser of the debut full-length from longtime sideman and producer Karriem Riggins, whose CV is absurd in its breadth, from support as a drummer to Diana Krall, Mulgrew Miller, and Ray Brown, to production work for the Roots, Slum Village, and Common. Those jazz and hip-hop threads have overlapped at times, notably in his projects with Madlib. The forthcoming Riggins album, Alone Together, will be a set of hip-hop instrumentals. The advance taste is titled “Moogy Foog It,” a bit of downtempo martial-drumming arts, the beat a flangy percussive riff, above which an 8bit snake charm melody noodles around lazily. The track ends quite suddenly, suggesting it will merge with the subsequent song when the full album appears.
More on the release at stonesthrow.com. The notes on the album page are a little confusing, in that they list October 23 as the release date but state “Vinyl and digital will be released in two-parts over summer and fall 2012.” Perhaps this MP3 comprises the “digital” part of that release.
And for additional context, here’s Chet Baker covering the jazz standard, by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, from which the Riggins album takes its name:
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
• I was on Vivian Host's Peak Time show (on Red Bull Radio) on March 11 to extol the timeless virtues of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and related works. You can listen to a recording here: redbullradio.com.
• My latest article is a review in the March issue of The Wire magazine of the week-long Recombinant Festival (held in San Francisco), whose performance highlights included Herman Kolgen, Rrose, and Electric Indigo.
• March 22, 2019: I'm giving a talk at noon on Friday at the Algorithmic Art Assembly, two days of events (Friday and Saturday) in San Francisco: aaassembly.org. The talk is titled "The Woodshed Is a Black Box" and this is its description in the program: "How a rules-based system formed, shapes, and fuels the long-running online music community known as the Disquiet Junto."
• May 7, 2019: This day sees the release of Rob Walker's book The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday (Knopf), which has entries about the Disquiet Junto.
• May 22, 2019: Final day of the semester of the 15-week "Sounds of Brands" course I teach once a year at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I post occasional updates here. Follow the tag #sounds-of-brands.
• December 13, 2019: This day marks the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2020: This day marks the 8th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.