[4.29.2019] Things I Don't Know About (disquiet 0382)

This week's Disquiet Junto coincided with me re-reading Jonathan Sterne's excellent book, The Audible Past: The Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. In it, Sterne traces the pre-history of sound reproducing technology and demonstrates that each new technology was less a brand new era in human development, but rather a new way to meet an old desire. Examining the cultural forces that led to these developments in sound technology really does feel like studying pre-history, because the mediums themselves very quickly took on a life of their own and created their own set of new desires, as Marshall McLuhan repeatedly observed.

The two quotes that resonated with me the most were "Anything new gets used to do the old jobs, no matter what it is" and "When you make a discovery, it doesn't reveal a whole new area of knowledge; it reveals a whole new area of things you don't know about."

I feel like I am still trying to capture sonic ideas that first resonated with me over ten years ago when I was a music student. As I've grown as a composer and audio engineer, I feel that I get constantly closer to achieving those goals, but they always feel elusive (I guess that's what keeps me moving forward). Each new tool gets put into service to meet my past desires, but it also reveals a myriad number of "things [I] don't know about."

This piece was built in Logic and Kontakt using a variety of samples from sources too numerous to count. I am constantly fascinated by sound's ability to evoke different spaces and different times and this piece reflects that, drawing upon nostalgic styles and grainy, degraded samples, while existing in a completely imaginary sonic space. These aesthetic choices recall observations made by McLuhan and Sterne, as well as Jacques Derrida's notion of "hauntology."

I grew up in St. Louis and never knew about McLuhan's stint at SLU. I will have to do some digging next time I'm in town.

[2.22.2019] Copernican Music (with Mitch Shiner) [disquiet junto 0373]

Collaborative extra-terrestrial transmissions recorded with percussionist Mitch Shiner (mitchshinermusic). SuperCollider synths played with a MalletKat MIDI controller. Any transmission to outer space is bound to be sent using technology that will be obsolete here on Earth by the time it reaches beings elsewhere in the universe, so this piece was recorded directly to cassette tape before being transmitted to you fellow humans via SoundCloud.

[2.7.2019] Concrete Wallpaper [disquiet junto 0371]

I really love wallpaper. I love how it's a material that has to find a right balance between being aesthetically pleasing but ultimately ignored, like smooth jazz or elevator music.

I also don't think that concrete is as solid and simple as we often believe it to be. I live in a city full of cracked sidewalks, crumbling bricks, and potholes. These decaying urban materials gradually take on an increasingly organic quality, as nature and the elements gradually reclaim the landscape.

This piece was created in Supercollider using the harmonies from the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves." Some further processing and griminess was done in Logic.

[1.26.2019] Final Solo [disquiet junto 0369]

My contribution to the beautiful, haunting duo by howthenightcame and ikjoyce. I recently gathered up some old tape machines that have been (literally) gathering dust in my attic and brought them to the studio to clean up and use for creative projects. My Portastudio MF-P01 creates this beautiful, shimmery warble to the high end, even after cleaning the heads. I recorded several different improvisations over the duo directly into the Portastudio with my 69 Telecaster Thinline and recorded the tape into Pro Tools via a True P-Solo preamp. I added some Valhalla Vintage Verb after aligning and comping in PT.

I then decided to try a Basinski/Lucier approach and recorded the output of PT back into the Portastudio, repeating this process six times to degrade the recording futher. Each subsequent pass has more 'verb applied. I helped the degradation along by manually flanging the cassette.

[1.21.2019] Bellymind [disquiet junto 0368]

My first attempt at a Disquiet Junto, building upon burn's wonky tritone-based guitar piece. I used Dave Pendle's Ghost Dulcitone instrument to create an undulating counterpoint to the unpredictable guitar part. Half the fun (and challenge) was trying to follow burn's harmonies. The percussive, overblown flute part adds momentum. Both parts were dirtied up and delayed a bit to fit in behind the guitar.

The biggest challenge was not being able to rely on stereo delays or reverb to create a sense of space. It was a good challenge, having to mix my part around the guitar without any panning or stereo effects.

Recently I've been pushing myself to write music with lots of notes. This has coincided with me collaborating with a mallet percussionist, and the Dulcitone parts I wrote for this piece draw a lot of inspiration from marimba patterns.