Orbital Patterns Live

Glitchy atmospherics, shimmery foundational sonics

The YouTube channel of Orbital Patterns is always worth returning to. Over a year has passed since the Michigan-based musician’s The Lonely Orbit album, and in advance of news of a follow-up, there’s a steady stream of live ambient jams to fill the void. The latest is trademark Orbital Patterns: glitchy atmospherics, shimmery foundational sonics, slushy melodicism. He mixes in vocalizing and field recordings with a sublime sense of balance. The music is at once oceanic in its swelling, and wondrously detailed in its production.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine live performance of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com.

Algorithmic Art Assembly 2022

And I'll be participating on March 11

The Algorithmic Art Assembly conference/festival is back, with quite the lineup. Additional details at aaassembly.org. It runs March 10, 11, and 12, 2022, at Gray Area in San Francisco (grayarea.org).

I’m looking forward to being part of it, doing a live interview with Mark Fell, Rian Treanor, and James Bradbury on the second day. I gave a talk about the Disquiet Junto at the first Algorithmic Art Assembly, back in 2019. The organizer, Thorsten Sideb0ard, puts his all into this.

And here’s the full lineup:

Thursday 10th March (Algorave)
Rich DDT \ d0n.xyz \ A/V Club \ Iván Abreu \ C. Lilly \ LuisaMei \ Spednar \ William Fields

Friday 11th March
Shader Park \ Jamie Fenton \ Chris Carlson \ Mark Fell, Rian Treanor & James Bradbury \ Amy Alexander \ Hannah Davis \ Lauren Sarah Hayes \ John Bischoff \ SPACEFILLER with Mick Marchan \ {arsonist} \ Trash Panda QC \ Myriam Bleau

Saturday 12th March
Phil Burk \ Barcelona AAA node w/ the Intelligent Instruments Lab \ RM Francis \ Ellen Phan \ Irwin/Miller \ Cassie Tarakajian \ Tom Hall \ Ross Goodwin \ CNDSD \ Kindohm \ Richard Devine

Tickets at grayarea.org. (Also, there are discounted festival scholarships for artists, students, and scholars from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in the fields of art, design, and technology. This scholarship gives preferences to those who self-identify as LGBTQ, women, nonbinary, or minority racial and ethnicity groups.)

#Jamuary Is Happening

Join in

It’s Jamuary, which, if you take note of the switch from “n” to “m” in the month, helps explain why YouTube is even more jam-packed with uploaded music tracks than usual. Like National Novel Writing Month (which takes place each November) or the somewhat lesser-known February Album Writing Month (which helpfully follows on the creative sparks of Jamuary’s heels), but more performative, more in-the-moment, Jamuary is a celebration of musical activity to kick off each new year. Jamuary is, in many ways, what is best about hashtag culture — about the way a communal rallying cry can provide an asynchronous-but-coherent sense of dispersed collaborative experience.

By way of example, there’s this reworking of various samples by the musician who goes by Keurslager Kurt. Piano and other sounds are layered, filtered, looped, and otherwise tweaked on the Digitakt (from the Gothenburg, Sweden, company Elektron) over the course of six minutes. Kurt credits another musician, Oscillator Sink, for having introduced the technique employed. (Also credited is the source of the piano sample: the Leo Svirsky album River Without Banks.) Oscillator Sink explains in his own tutorial that what he’s doing is using the Digitakt for — rather than the standard triggering of beat samples on a clock — “manipulating an ongoing sonic event.” That approach lends both the Oscillator Sink and Keurslager Kurt pieces an ambient quality, one that emphasizes stasis and texture rather than rhythm and percussion.

Jamuary is by no means a YouTube-exclusive pastime. It’s flourishing on Instagram, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, and elsewhere.

This is the first video I’ve added this year to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine live ambient performances. Video originally published at YouTube. More from Keurslager Kurt, who is based in Belgium, at keurslagerkurt.bandcamp.com and at tindie.com, which has a collection of synthesizer kits for the AE Modular system, including a take on the excellent Sloth, originally created by Non-Linear Circuits.

Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (1 of 13): Pauline Oliveros

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

A week from this coming Monday — which is to say, December 13, 2021 — will mark the 25th anniversary of Disquiet.com. I’ll post one article highlight per day between now and then. The collection will serve as an archival ambient advent calendar. First up: a 1996 interview I did with the great musician, thinker, and teacher Pauline Oliveros:

I interviewed Oliveros several times and we corresponded a bit, as well. Shortly before she died in 2016, the two of us chatted via Facebook Messenger about her proposing a project for the Disquiet Junto music community. Clearly it never got to happen. Nonetheless, many Junto projects evidence her guiding influence: her curiosity, her interest in procedure, her humor, her emphasis on collaboration, and her trademark attention to deep listening.

After the first time I interviewed her, I sent her a gift of ECM CDs recorded by Dino Saluzzi, the Argentinian bandoneon player, with whom she wasn’t yet familiar. She later told me she enjoyed them. I always dreamed of a collaboration between the two musicians. That would have been something.

I’ve initiated this Disquiet.com 25th anniversary countdown with the Oliveros piece because she was responsible for rewiring my brain, and because the interview occurred in 1996, the same year I founded this website. The interview was for Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine, where I worked full-time as an editor from 1989 to 1996, and for which I later wrote freelance. I founded the website shortly after leaving Tower employment. Just a few months passed before I realized that I missed having a music publication that I felt was part of who I was. In the absence of one, I created one.

Image of Pauline Oliveros by Canticle via Wikipedia.