Current Favorites: Cooked Viola and Buddha Machines, Thawing Ice

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ On the double album If Not Now, released at the very end of 2020, Meredith Bates sends her violin and viola through a range of processing, yielding echoes and textures, layers and atmospheres, stutters and breakage. It somehow manages to be both intimate and orchestral at the same time. Bates is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.


▰ Three field recordings of what’s going on under the ice, captured by Ivo Vicic of Rijeka, Croatia, on Under the Ice – Secret Sounds of Nature. As Vicic describes it, what we’re hearing is a water stream, amomg other activity, recorded at a lake that has frozen over during the winter. Released earlier this month. (Thanks for the recommendation, Patricia Wolf!)


▰ In a 10-minute live video, Poland-baed Grzegorz Bojanek makes rough-hewn ambient music in realtime with a handful of Buddha Machines and effects pedals. Even if you’re entirely familiar with the source audio, you’ll be enchanted by the new territories Bojanek explores.


▰ The cacophonous fragility of Marcus Fischer’s mid-February “Thawing” is a field recording made during the Portland, Oregon, winter. Writes Fischer of the brief track: “Thawing ice releasing itself and falling from a large oak tree onto the snow-covered street below.”

Instagram Favorites

A subset of virtual crate digging

Sundays I usually do a roundup of music I’ve been listening to a lot but haven’t gotten around to writing about. It’s often the case that the music I’ve listened to the most ends up not being the subject of my posts here because it becomes so ubiquitous in my life through repetition that it, conversely, becomes invisible. In that spirit, I want today just to link to a few Instagram accounts that regularly appeal. If hanging out on YouTube can have the sense of discovery of crate digging, then the brevity of Instagram videos (all under a minute, unless you click through to Instagram TV, aka IGTV, which I rarely do) is more like flipping through stacks of singles.

Aaron Larget-Caplan (instagram.com/alcguitar) is a masterful guitarist, responsible for having produced the first official edition of guitar transcriptions of John Cage compositions. He also has, among other things, a focus on lullabies, and he’s commissioned a wide variety of them.

The artist Zimoun (instagram.com/studiozimoun) is a spirited, ingenious, crafty producer of kinetic sculptures that generally employ inexpensive materials in sizable amounts to achieve the sort of patterning and complexity generally associated with living things. While sound isn’t always the focus of these works, it is always a component.

Scanner Darkly (instagram.com/scanner_darkly_) writes remarkable code that powers a range of fascinating synthesizer modules, and this account always has tidbits of works in progress.

Ambalek (instagram.com/_ambalek) makes beautiful ambient and ambient-leaning music that combines atmospheric impressionism with the refinement of classic minimalism.

The Soul Science (instagram.com/thesoulscience), true to the name, brings a soulful spirit to exploratory, often noisy synthesizer work.

Those are just a few. Others I follow are viewable at instagram.com/dsqt.

DJ Krush in the Temple by the Foot of the Mountain

An hour-long live set recorded in February


The widespread isolation of pandemic culture provided the natural incubator for DJ Krush to spin echoes of turntablist gestures alone in a Japanese temple as winter turned to spring.

Please trust me that while I’ve only seen Krush live a handful or so of times, I have listened to countless hours of his recorded concert performances, and this is, I believe, one of his finest. Krush originated as a Japanese hip-hop DJ, and from the beginning emphasized abstraction and atmosphere, as well as utilized regional music and sonic culture as source material and inspiration.

This hour-long set was first streamed in late February as part of the MUSO Cultural Festival, broadcast from the temple Daichuji, located in the Japanese city of Numazu, Shizuoka, by the foot of Mount Ashitaka. A brief accompanying statement explains: “Within the temple, a conceptual live performance was filmed as if to experience the essence of Zen through sound.” The festival takes its name from Muso Soseki, who founded Daichuji in 1313.

The show opens with an exceptionally sparse seven minutes of elegant, cautious play, then ratchets up to something closer to the smokey, noir quality of his early work. From there the pace slowly builds, remaining downtempo throughout, but gaining depth: more sounds, more motion, more contrast. Even as the audio accrues, there remains room for the slightest hand gesture to bring a warble to the surface, for his wrists to syncopate martial drums and drop in quick samples. So much gets folded in: dance music, chanting, birdsong, and rapturous percussion stuttered in his mixer.

The show ends as it began, with choice bits of sound, wooden flutes from some of his most famous music, until the beats drop out. From there on, for the last five minutes or so, the work is Krush at his most ghostly, not mournful so much as reflective, peaceful, finally resolving in a climactic drone before dissipating like a candle blown out.

Video originally posted at YouTube. More on the festival at muso-festival.com.

Current Favorites: Soil, Tree, “Apache”

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

Garble Blox is Chicago’s J. Soliday on the Portland (Maine) label Traced Objects in sheer joyous noise mode. True to the title this is John Cage by way of Carl Stalling, found sounds and sound effects broken and reconstituted with the hijinks set to 11. Two tracks, 17 minutes each:

▰ This isn’t literally “The Sound of a Soil Sleeping,” but it sure has the droning, industrious quality of life underground, plick plock activity amid the earthy gravitas. It’s a highlight of Five Days in March, the Berthoud, Colorado, musician C. Reider’s brand new album. Also particularly recommended: the similarly percolating one with non-fungible tokens in its title:

▰ Forget the sound of a tree falling in the forest. How about the sound of the wind that might fell a tree, as heard from inside the tree. That’s what Robert Cole Rizzi captures in this track:

▰ A friend mentioned this video of the “Apache” breakbeat on loop for 10 hours, and while I didn’t quite make it to 10, I sure got lost in it for extended periods of time. The video is from 2017, the source audio from 1973. Nonetheless: timeless.

twitter.com/disquiet: mesostics, bands, tutorials

From the past week

I do this manually each week, collating the tweets I made at twitter.com/disquiet (which I think of as my public notebook) that I want to keep track of. For the most part, this means ones I initiated, not ones in which I directly responded to someone. I sometimes tweak them a bit here. Some tweets pop up on Disquiet.com sooner than I get around to collating them, so I leave them out of the weekly round-up. It’s usually personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud. They’re here pretty much in chronological order. Looking back at the tweets makes the previous week seem both longer and shorter than it was. The cadence is a way to map how time progressed. The subjects are another map of the same territory.

▰ Detail of an index page from a book called The Miracle of Television (1949)

▰ My main post-pandemic prediction (and this is not an original thought by any means) is there’s gonna be a lot of bands. I think everyone’s kinda got the solo act aced at this point.

▰ Fifth robocall of the day and it’s not even 1:30pm. Either Skynet is happening or the FCC is about to crack down and the robots are making as many calls as they can before the party is over. My money is on Skynet.

▰ A mesostic:

     My
    sErvice to computer
     Science
    tOday
   waS
     To teach this word to
the AI that lives in
  my Computer's dictionary

(better in fixed-width font)

▰ Looking forward to episode two of Debris tonight. That’s my gauge of a new weekly TV series: do I find myself looking forward to it, or is it something that shows up as having been recorded and I then give the latest episode a go? So far, one episode in, Debris is the former.

▰ I freely admit that when I started using Scrivener, I was overwhelmed. Funny thing: I started working in it, and finding the tools I needed, and that’s all it took. Now it’s where I do most of my writing, and even some note-taking. The more I use it, the better I use it. The single tool I use the most is the ability to divide a longer piece into subsections that can be worked on independently, and also quickly and easily regrouped with the other subsections around it.

▰ There’s a seaplane overhead, sounding like a didgeridoo with wings

▰ OK

▰ While working, I’ve been listening to John Luther Adams all afternoon, and now I’m not sure what planet I’m on. In a row today: Become Ocean, Become Desert, Become River, Ilimaq, The Place We Began. Been hours since I hit pause, and I feel like I’m just beginning to come up for air. I especially recommend Become River (symphonic), Ilimaq (augmented percussion), and Place We Began (ambient).

▰ Minecraft news you can use

▰ While working this afternoon, I’ve been listening to Jana Winderen non-stop, and now I’ve convinced myself that the next time I go outside the sound of the world will be overwhelming. I need to first re-acclimate to human-scale listening.

▰ When my love
Stands next to your love
I can’t compare love
When it’s not love

It’s not love
It’s not love
Which is my face
Which is a data center
Which is on fire
On fire

▰ Just re-watched the live video of Prince’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for, like, the 650th time, thanks to Ethan Hein’s expert dissection (at ethanhein.com) of another Prince solo (“Kiss”), and still the hair went up on my arms.

▰ “Stars — they’re just like us!” (From a New York Times article on how 75 different artists rode out pandemic lockdown thus far)

▰ About half my email inbox inbox is “Sorry I haven’t been in touch. During the pandemic I’ve gotten very little done.” And half is “Here’s my fifth box set I’ve released in the past 12 months. I think I’m really hitting my stride. Hope you enjoy it.” (My outbox is, in essence, I’ve managed to get everything done except my outbox.)

▰ I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a tweet with 319 likes in less than 8 hours before. That has been weird.

▰ And on that note, have a great weekend. Wear a mask, maybe two. Enjoy YouTube synth tutorials to your heart’s desire. Get fresh air (again, through a mask). Zoom friends. Read something that’s not its own light source. Give yourself and everyone around you a break. See ya Monday.