A 10-minute video exploring the rhythms inherent in prime numbers. For me, what was most remarkable was experiencing, through sonification, the decreasing density of primes as the numbers get higher. For context, check out its preceding video (below), which breaks down the correlation between the math and the sound. (Thanks, Adam Boyd, for the tip.)
Originally published in a special, experimental September 23, 2022, “TWiS x 3” edition of the This Week in Sound email newsletter. Get it in your inbox via tinyletter.com/disquiet.
Apparently the music in this Prada womenswear runway show is by Cliff Martinez (Contagion, Kimi, Solaris), who worked with frequent collaborator, director Nicolas Winding Refn (their team-ups include Drive, Too Old to Die Young, Only God Forgives, and The Neon Demon), on videos for the installation. If you watch the archived comments scroll by as the video plays on YouTube, you’ll see numerous assumed Prada aficionados describing the music as “creepy,” which is accurate and to be expected, since that is often the impact of this duo’s modus operandi.
I’m all for fashion houses hiring great composers to do bespoke scores for their shows. I feel like I’ve read smart critiques of runway music, in particular how name DJs performing at the events get paid large fees while the musicians whose tracks they play may earn little if anything — but I can’t find a citation in my browser history.
According to IMDB, Martinez had no releases in 2000 and 2021, with the exception of his work on the TV series The Wilds, so until his next reunion with Refn or Soderbergh, we may just have to listen to Prada on repeat.
Like last week’s round-up, this post is a reminder of some of the inspiring music housed at Instagram. It’s also the latest in a series of occasional answers to a frequent question: “What have you been listening to lately?” These are annotated, albeit lightly, because I don’t like reposting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.
▰ Tuscany, Italy-based Federico Chiesa, who goes by Oora (“pronounced like Aura”), at instagram.com/ooramusic, shared a live sequence of tender, lush synthesizer mood music.
▰ Sarah Belle Reid (instagram.com/sarahbellereid), based in Los Angeles, does incredible things with her horn, processed live by racks of synthesizer modules. As she explains, “I am constantly exploring ways to add breath and organic motion into my synth patches, looking for ways to make my oscillators blend with and play off of my trumpet more, and so on.”
▰ Thinking too much about the potential for something akin to a proper “metaverse” can diminish the melding of physical and virtual already in full flower. This video by Prague-based Digiklvb (instagram.com/digiklvb) combines the synthesizer seen in real life with an overlayed image that is produced by the same system. Yes, these don’t appear in the “real world” as such, except through post-production editing, but I think the increasing prominence of such combinations is a glimpse into how musicians like Digiklvb experience such work as they produce it.
Apparently Daniel Lanois has a new album — its title, Player, Piano, featuring an attention-getting comma — due out on the fairly new label Modern Recordings (a BMG company whose roster includes Nils Petter Molvaer, Robot Koch, and Meredi). “I got to visit with the ghosts of Erik Satie and Oscar Peterson and Harold Budd,” Lanois said in a pre-release statement. This short video is a live snippet of him at his heavily used instrument, carefully selected chords worked through with soulful patience.
According to the pre-release announcement: “Lanois and [co-producer Wayne] Lorenz set about transforming each of the three pianos in the studio, dampening the strings with tea towels and dulling the percussive impact of the hammers by adding small felt pads to the heads. When it came time to record, they used vintage ribbon mics and arranged them behind the instruments rather than in front in an effort to further soften the sound.”
That glimpse at his approach explains the muted quality of the piano, the way it both echoes with a pronounced softness and yet feels constrained, controlled. The softness is itself a sort of constraint, in that it presents the piano at a remove from how one normally hears the instrument — thus the sound is both warm and alien. In other words, very much Daniel Lanois territory.
It’s been quite an odd week for Instagram, which has reportedly been testing out a variety of shifts to its interface and focus. This post is a reminder of some of the good that can be found amid the … well, everything else. It’s also the latest in a series of occasional answers to a frequent question: “What have you been listening to lately?” These are annotated, albeit lightly, because I don’t like reposting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.
▰ It’s been four years since, in 2018, the highly talented guitarist Jamie Stillway released City Static, which included some beautiful ambient soundscapes. A new live studio performance (at instagram.com/jamiestillway) shows her back at it, writing, as she jokes, “the kind of music that puts cats to sleep.”
▰ Knobs, aka Scott Harper, best known for some of the most simultaneously whimsical and informative videos about guitar pedals, has an album due out. Get a listen to preview videos, such as this one, at instagram.com/knobs.creative
▰ Fahmi Mursyid (at instagram.com/_fahmi_mursyid_
) records with a wide variety of tools, some of them software-based, such as this droning, pulsing music (that’s half downtempo techno and half space-station infrastructure A.S.M.R.) in the visual coding tool known as Pure Data.
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
Upcoming • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com. • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
Recent • 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.)
Background 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.