The Downstream department entries on Disquiet.com are, with the exception of Thursdays, always about streamable — and often freely downloadable — music available right now. On Thursdays the Downstream highlights the latest Disquiet Junto project, tracks from which usually begin appearing within 12 hours. Today’s post, however, is about something happening a little further off, in about — checks watch — three and a half days, as of this typing. That’s Saturday, March 21, when Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, will perform the inaugural live stream from his London home base. “First broadcast from the Scanner studio, especially given the rather challenging and frequently lonely situation for so many,” he wrote as an advance notice on YouTube. “I felt a little Saturday afternoon live performance might distract you from the dark news for a moment.” That’s Saturday afternoon in England, where Scanner, as well as his studio, is based. Here in California, it’ll be 9am. Adjust your clocks accordingly, or if you have a YouTube account, click on the “reminder” button on the concert’s YouTube URL.
As mentioned here in yesterday’s special edition After Live post, there are countless more performances like this being broadcast, recorded, and archived around the world, all accessible within your browser. Seek them out, support the musicians who produce them, and share the ones you recommend.
More from Rimbaud at scannerdot.com and scanner.bandcamp.com, where he recently launched a subscriber fan community, providing access to previously unreleased material, among other perks.
There is static on the line. The signal is going in and out. Bits are looping frantically, and the combined activity yields a kind of sonic mist, if at times a spiky one. The overall signal source, the original thread of audio, is almost lost as the interference takes on a syncopated quality. This is all on purpose, of course. This is the musician who goes by the name Duelling Ants taking sound from a small portable synthesizer and sending it through an ingenious looper, one that extracts subsets of the signal and lets Duelling Ants operate upon them simultaneously for varying purposes. One line moves forward while another cycles a bit round and round while another plays a different subset in reverse. (I know to listen for this because I’m familiar with the looping software.) The result is a spirited kaleidoscope of parts, where the whole is entirely besides the point.
You can play this video in lots of contexts. You can play it on your phone, or your laptop, maybe in a little side window, or real big. You can project it to a screen. Or you can play it on a tablet. I recommend tablet. The reason I recommend tablet, specifically iPad, is this video was performed in the software called Samplr on an iPad. To play the video on an iPad is to play it on the same device where the music was performed and recorded — in situ, as it were. (The Samplr app recently received an update for the first time in something like half a decade. It had continued to work fine, but its developer finally modernized it, resulting in a deserved resurgence of popularity, resulting in videos like this one.) Here the sampling app is put to ambient purposes. As the musician Haik works through the samples, you can track the correlation between actions and sounds.
There are periods of time when, for one reason or another, my listening focuses on an individual musician. Twice last week and, now, today, where my listening has settled is on the work of Fahmi Mursyid. I receive a lot of correspondence about music from publicists and musicians, and I balance the inbound recordings with what I myself come across online. To my mind, the feeds on my Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and YouTube accounts are just as valid as — if not more so than — the queries in my inbox. This live performance video shows Mursyid layering tones and sequences on his portable synthesizer. There’s a light, exploratory quality, in part because the song has a childlike aspect to it, and in part because the music sounds like the score to footage of an unmanned research vessel headed out to the great unknowns of deep space. All of Mursyid’s YouTube videos are explorations of a sort, pursuing sounds on a variety of devices and software applications. Highly recommended to add to your YouTube feed.
No-input mixing is the perpetual-energy machine of electronic music. Maybe more than perpetual energy. Perpetual energy often suggests something simple, like a spinning wheel or a car battery, that has been tricked into running forever. In contrast, no-input mixing suggests one is tapping into a dangerous force. The trick is not to make it run forever, but quite the contrary: to keep it in check. To make something raw and vital be useful and malleable. The sounds are often employed in noise music, or, as in the case of this Fahmi Mursyid video, ambient. In it, Mursyid probes at the noise that the mixer produces, lending a sense of space with a reverb pedal and letting it loop and grow. For all the subtlety of the piece, there is a strong undercurrent, the feeling that it could get out of control very easily. (Fun fact: right click on a YouTube video and a little menu pops up. Then select where it says “loop,” and let it do so.) According to a comment by Mursyid, we’ll hear more of this work soon: “The long version will be out on ‘feedback’ compilation or I will upload it on my Patreon page.”
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.