Yearly Archives: 2012


Arc Welded [disquiet0040-kirschnerplus1]

PROCESS:
Turned Kirschner and Popoff into my Crazy Horse and dialed up a tribute to Neil Young’s noise record Arc, the final side of the Arc/Weld live album of his 1991 Ragged Glory tour. Snipped about 2 1/2 mins of the duet, then layered a looped, distorted guitar over it. Couldn’t get the range on the fretboard I wanted in one take, so there are 2 takes twisted into this wreckage (so it’s, well, almost a live performance :^D). Each take was then doubled, the copies processed further (phasers, delay, more distortion) and sent left and right. I think the Kirschner/Popoff track remains up enough in the mix to distinguish, but I also wanted to melt the feedbacks together (which catalyzed the arc-welding inspiration and connection to Young’s Arc/Weld record).

Enjoyed doing something flat-out loud (my neighbors did not like me tonight – heh heh). In some ways, if you get loud enough, you can drown out all the critics, including the loudest one inside you.

PROJECT:
For this Disquiet Junto project you will add your own performance to a duet. This will turn it, in effect, into a trio.

You cannot change the existing audio, except to the extent that you can elect to trim it to a more manageable length, in which case you might choose to fade in and out.

The source audio for this track is part three of the Kenneth Kirschner album June 5, 2012, which features Kirschner on piano and Tawnya Popoff on viola. The album was released in September 2012 on the shskh.com netlabel, where it is available for free download.

More on this 40th Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/10/04/disquie…40-kirschnerplus1/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info

More on Kenneth Kirschner at:
www.kennethkirschner.com/ ;


Summer Echoes [2012]

highlights of this summer’s recordings…


direct soundcloud link


The Know It Alls At Bloomingdale’s [almost disquiet0037-asrealasitgets1]

Was Upper East Side (like in a Warren Zevon song) in Manhattan on Sunday 16 September 2012 and captured a couple recordings at Bloomingdale’s. I flipped a coin to decide which to submit to the Junto and this one lost, but it was worth sharing.

This recording was made on the 8th (top) floor in the children’s section. The sounds involved a back-to-school mannequin display designed as a fake rock band called “The Know-It-Alls,” complete with guitars and drums that kids played as they passed by. The display was in front of the main elevators and an employee-only set of double-doors. Kids and parents alike alit from the elevator and hit the drums and strummed the guitars as they passed by.

Though the clothes and accessories on the mannequins were all for sale on the floor, the instruments were not. I dug the concept of the store allowing the items that weren’t for sale to be manipulated and distressed by the shoppers. I was tempted to tune the guitars, but decided to do my best Jane Goodall and not interfere with the situation. :^D

Process:
Recorded while walking and holding iPhone in hand. Faded the edges off the audio file in Acid.

Rig:
iPhone, GarageBand, Klipsch earbuds, Acid 7.0

This Disquiet Junto project was done in association with the exhibit As Real As It Gets, organized by Rob Walker at the gallery Apex Art in Manhattan (November 15 – December 22, 2012):
apexart.org/exhibitions/walker.php/

More on this 37th Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/09/13/disquie…7-asrealasitgets1/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


Bloomingdale’s Ascension [disquiet0037-asrealasitgets1]

Was Upper East Side (like in a Warren Zevon song) in Manhattan on Sunday 16 September 2012 and captured a couple recordings at Bloomingdale’s. I flipped a coin to decide which to submit to the Junto and this one won. This recording captures a journey from the 59th Street N/R/4/5/6 subway station under the store to the street. There is a proprietary entrance to the store from the station into the basement-level “Metro59” section of the Men’s Department. Once inside, you can zig-zag up a couple 1/2 flight escalators, then up and down some stairs to arrive at the main street entrance on Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets.

The 2nd recording was made on the 8th (top) floor in the children’s section. The recording in the children’s section involved a back-to-school mannequin display designed to be a fake rock band called “The Know-It-Alls,” complete with guitars and drums that kids would play with as they passed by. Very different but equally interesting, that one is here:
Thereflectors – The-know-it-alls

Process:
Recorded while walking and holding iPhone in hand. Faded the edges off the audio file in Acid.

Rig:
iPhone, GarageBand, Klipsch earbuds, Acid 7.0

This Disquiet Junto project was done in association with the exhibit As Real As It Gets, organized by Rob Walker at the gallery Apex Art in Manhattan (November 15 – December 22, 2012):
apexart.org/exhibitions/walker.php/

More on this 37th Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/09/13/disquie…7-asrealasitgets1/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


review: doux, oui?

FAX MACHINE ANTHEMS (http://whiskeyclone.net), a blog to host/stream versions of Beck’s Song Reader songs, had some kind words on my cover for the Junto.

via: http://whiskeyclonenet.tumblr.com

This is a superb full version of the preview, with “drums, bass, electric guitar (rhythm & lead), acoustic guitar, hammond b3 emulator.” Unlike some of the other fuller takes, he gets around the carnivalesque vibes, and is all the more successful for it. And despite the name, it’s not in French.


doux, oui? [disquiet0035-becksongreader]

PROCESS:
Off-the-cuff sight read. Kinda fun to record. Set the controls for the heart of the sun.

Instruments: drums, bass, electric guitar (rhythm & lead), acoustic guitar, hammond b3 emulator
Guitar rig: Jolie (cherry-red ES-335, customized by Peekamoose Guitars, www.peekamoose.com), Vox AC-15, Ibanez Screamer, Line-6 Pod-XT Flange/Wah/Phaser.

PROJECT:
The project this week is to perform a rendition of a piece of sheet music. The sheet music in question is a single low-resolution image from the forthcoming “sheet-music album” to be released by Beck this December. The image was provided by the publisher McSweeney’s when it announced the Beck collection, which is titled Song Reader.

You can use whatever instrumentation you like. Feel free to interpret the sheet music as literally or abstractly as you choose.

This track is an interpretation of a sample of the sheet music from the Beck collection Song Reader. The sheet music can be seen here:
disquiet.com/wp-content/uploads…8-beckdowewedo.jpg ;

More on Beck’s Song Reader.

More on this 35th Disquiet Junto project.

More details on the Disquiet Junto.


needle chase [disquiet0033-turntable]

was very intimidated by this week’s assignment. the turntable is really the only piece of audio playback equipment that gets standing ovations when rolled on stage. fake djs spin records where real djs play a turntable…

got on a giorgio moroder kick this weekend and borrowed the bassline and tempo from “chase” off the midnight express soundtrack. all tones for the bassline, melody and mid-section carnival calliope were extracted as harmonics from spinning turntable-felt samples at actual speeds in paulstretch. there’s a little added flange, compression and reverb. the rest is just kismet on the timeline.

sounds:
spinning felt of turntable: 33, 45 and 78 rpms (contact mic rested on felt)
tapping on plastic turntable cover (contact mic)
needle touched with finger then placed and rested next to spinning platter of turntable (rca output into motu)

rig:
numark pt-01 usb portable turntable, k&k electric contact mics, sony acid 7.0, line 6 pod xt, motu 828 mk2, paulstretch (windows)

project:
This week’s project is the Disquiet Junto’s 33rd, and since the number 33 (or, more specifically, the number 33 1/3) is so closely tied with the LP turntable, that device will be the primary object of investigation.

You will make an original piece of music in which all the sounds are derived from a turntable — only from the turntable itself, which means you can’t put any vinyl on it. You can knock on the turntable, blow on the needle, record the sound of its internal mechanisms, whatever you like. You can also transform those sounds as you please, but you cannot include any additional sounds.

More on the 33rd Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/08/16/disquiet0033-turntable/ ;

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


friction and the flame [disquiet0031-onomatch]

Process:
Watched a few matches burn. Became fascinated with the moment of ignition and the friction behind the flame, so this piece hones in on that moment and those forces.
Attached contact mics to inside of a kitchen match box, directly under the striking surface. Scratching the striking surface with a match head (without igniting) produced the main beats.
Recorded several strikes and ignitions of an 11″ fireplace/grill match with a studio mic. A suitable strike was stretched to about 2:22 and runs under the piece uninterrupted. The opening bang is the match head hitting the box and the big bang at ~1:30 is the match igniting. The stretched scraping is evident in the middle section when the guitars drop out.
Had some Creative Commons licensed samples of Yoko Ono from a couple years ago, when she invited people to remix her track “The Sun Is Down.” I never made a remix, but always loved the samples and this project provided a perfect outlet. Her voice and the Tenori-on came from that set.
The fireplace matches gave off a fun pitter-patter sound as they burned down. This noise comes in and out and closes the track unadulterated.
Rhythm and lead guitar tracks round out the affair.

Rig:
Diamond “greenlight” kitchen matches (300 ct box), Penley 11″ long-burning grill & fireplace matches (40 ct box), Yoko Ono “The Sun Is Down” samples, Gibson ES-335 (“Jolie”), Vox AC-15, Paulstretch (Windows), Sony Acid, K&K contact mics, Senheiser MD 421-II mic, Line-6 Pod-XT, Motu 828 MK-II, Sony MDR-7506 headphones

Image:
A photograph I shot on the set of HBO’s “Oz,” for which I was the Assistant Location Manager for the first season. The scene was a flashback of an arsonist burning down a firehouse. The location was a decommissioned fire station on Delancey Street right near the Williamsburg Bridge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Project:
This week’s project takes the opportunity to focus on the art movement known as Fluxus. We’ll use as the starting point a 1955 composition by Yoko Ono. Her work is titled “Lighting Piece” and it consists of a single, simple sentence: “Light a match and watch till it goes out.” It is one of a number of pieces that Ono produced as part of Fluxus. For this week’s Disquiet Junto project, please interpret her instruction as closely or as loosely as you choose.

More on the 31st Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/08/02/disquiet0031-onomatch/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


dronewater falls [disquiet0029-countzero]

Project:

This week’s project is inspired by an aside that occurs at the opening of chapter 17 of William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk novel Count Zero, originally published in 1986.

Process:

I returned to the Prospect Park, Brooklyn, waterfall (pictured, with Sterling) that I used for the prior junto challenge of remixing Lee Rosevere (Thereflectors – Waterfall-love) and made a new recording with the garageband app on my iPhone. That recording was eq’ed and compressed and runs uncut under the track. After Sony’s Acid beatmapped most of the track’s “measures” at ~99bpm with its mysterious one-button algorithmic analysis, I extracted 8 bars with a very subtle knocking sound, the result of a unicyclist (I kid you not) riding over loose slats on a wooden bridge running over the falls. This was looped continuously through the piece as a quiet insistent beat around which the melody was built (mostly evident in headphones, tho). All sounds were extracted from the recording using Paulstretch, Audacity and Acid. My hope is that the track is not “overworked” beyond the constraints of the assignment, and still evokes water over a stone. But if nothing else, it communicates the sense of calm and reflection I find in this somewhat secret place in the heart of the park, off the Nethermead near the Boathouse and Audubon bird sanctuary. There’s no real pathway or signs to the spot from the main route, save for trodden-down underbrush that beckons the more adventurous and hyper-aware about to cross the bridge. A slice of #secretnewyork, I guess.

The instructions were as follows:

Step 1: Locate and make a field recording of source material that involves running water.

Step 2: Extract a segment of the recording. That segment will serve as the basis for your composition, as its foundation. It will provide both rhythmic and melodic material.

Step 3: Add elements and treatments to the foundation recording of running water. Do so with the intention of highlighting the water’s internal sense of rhythm and melody. Do not embellish so much that the foundation recording becomes unrecognizable.

——————————————

The inspiration for this track came from the opening of chapter 17 of William Gibson’s 1986 novel Count Zero. The chapter is titled “The Squirrel Wood.” It opens as follows:

“The plane had gone to ground near the sound of running water. Turner could hear it, turning in the g-web in his fever or sleep, water down stone, one of the oldest songs.”

This idea of water running down stone, of a gentle but insistent natural stream, being one of the “oldest songs” is explored further in the chapter in various subtle ways. The Disquiet Junto project this week is to explore that idea: that there is music in the natural environment. We’ll make songs from running water.

More on the 29th Disquiet Junto project at:
disquiet.com/2012/07/19/disquiet0029-countzero/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


textphony in d [disquiet0027-texting]

We continued the theme of “creative reuse” this week and were challenged to interpret a text file as sound.

Instructions:
“Please copy the instructions to this project and save them as a text file. You will then open that file in one or more pieces of audio-processing software. The resulting sound will serve as the foundation of your track. You can only use the sounds resulting from the text file in the process of making your track. You can manipulate the sounds, and you can use multiple versions that result from different pieces of software, but you cannot add any other sounds.”

Process:
In searching for how to do this, I found the same p22.com/musicfont/ as a few others here (I don’t think i could have done this any other way, fwiw).
Fed the phrase “disquiet junto 0027 creative reuse instructions” into it.
Cut up the generated midi file into the individual words.
Fed the midi files to a tweakbench “tapeworm” vst mellotron emulator set to “flute” with a tiny bit of tape hiss and a lot of decay.
Processed the midi file for the word “disquiet” through Paulstretch.
Added a whacked up phaser to the stretched sound to create the bouncing glitch.
Arranged the other midi samples over the stretched file somewhat randomly with added reverb and a tempo-synched delay.

My only concession was changing the final note to resolve to D. This involved tweaking the “0027” midi file’s second of two notes up a half-step. But the fact the piece probably ends with the word “0028” kinda made me smile.

Tools:
P22 Music Text Composition Generator, Sony Acid 7.0, Tweakbench “Tapeworm” VST Mellotron Emulator, Paulstretch (windows)

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more details on the disquiet junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


unconsumption review of “the rime of the ancient pacific garbage patch”

Wonderful appearance of the Disquiet0026: Compos(t)ing project on the Unconsumption blog, run by Rob Walker, who also mentions my track as a highlight. So cool…

Walker writes:

As noted here the other day, the most recent installment of music/sound/art site Disquiet.com‘s ongoing series of “assignments” for electronic musician/composers had an Unconsumption-y theme: “Record the music to a PSA using sounds sampled from your garbage bin.” Specifically, participants were instructed to use sounds produced by four objects from the trash as their musical “source material,” uploading their creations to Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.

The results are in, and they’re pretty cool! To listen to any or all of the 15 submitted compositions, go here, or use the embedded player [below]. My favorites included one of the more soaring and atmospheric tracks: “The Rime of the Ancient Pacific Garbage Patch,” by Westy Reflector.

I wish I lived in a world where PSAs sounded like this…


the rime of the ancient pacific garbage patch [disquiet0026-compos(t)ing]

The theme of this week’s disquiet junto project was creative reuse — call it recycling, or unconsumption, or upcycling, or compos(t)ing. Four objects from garbage pails at work or home were developed into an original musical track that would be used as background music for a PSA about recycling.

We were allowed to transform the sounds of these elements, but only lightly, so as to respect their inherent sonic properties. In my track, all objects are represented in their native state, either alone or interacting with each other, as loops or one-shots with minimal processing. The soundscape underneath the raw sounds is a layering of each live recording in a processed state. I tried to keep processing to a minimum. Each processed sound was only either time stretched or resonant filtered, with 0 or 1 more effects applied on top (harmonics, pitch shift, or wah-wah). In this way, I think the processed sounds retain their sonic signatures, though some of them got blissfully strange (e.g., the eerie trash-wailing ~2:00 is a time-stretched, pitch-shifted bendy straw being pulled open).

The four objects used:
wine bottle (napa valley, ca, beringer pinot grigio, via ‘prime time wine and liquor,’ brooklyn, ny)
cracked sea shell (rockport, ma)
snipped guitar string ends (ernie ball heavy-bottom/light-top custom set, via peekamoose guitars, 30th st, nyc, ny)
bendy straw (china, via freshdirect dot com)

The live sounds recorded:
wine bottle dropped into bathtub w/ sea shell
wine bottle submerging
blowing into empty wine bottle (long blow, two-puff, one-puff)
spinning-in-air guitar string ends
low-e guitar string scraped across sea shell
pieces of sea shell tapped on each other (a one-shot and an 8 bar live loop)
blowing into straw while opening its bendy accordion joint
clean open of the bendy straw accordion joint

22 tracks (11 live w/ compression and reverb, 11 processed)

rig: sony acid 7.0, paulstretch (windows), condenser mic, motu interface, lexicon reverb

the earth’s just slowing down, and it’s just about to stop. the only question is, “where will it be noon?”

peace,
westy

————————————————————–
more details on the disquiet junto


the summer reflector

3oz reyka vodka
1/2oz st germain
1/2oz sorel hibiscus liqueur
1/2 lemon
tsp agave.

shake w/ ice.

fizz w/ 4oz club soda.


call pop [full version]

This was the first stab at soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info project #0024, which involved creating alert tones for phones (ringtone, email, text and event). It became too orchestrated, however, and I had to rework it to create what I eventually posted to the group: Thereflectors – Call-pop-disquiet0024.

This kinda became a fictional 80s sitcom theme, though, and seemed fun enough to share if only for that. The guitar is in a 6th string drop-d tuning. A few not very flashy riffs are built around a chiming phrase (which may or not have been stolen from New Order :^D). The opening voice is a royalty-free sample of Mick Fleetwood I found in my loop drive. The title’s also kind of a backwards-induced Father’s Day reference (today having been the day we celebrate all pops here in the U.S.), so I imagined the sitcom having to do with a family. Maybe it even would have been called “Father’s Day” or something like that.

Peace,
Westy


call pop [disquiet0024-alertsuite]

PROJECT:

This week’s junto project was about “functional music.” We were charged with creating four individual sounds that serve as alerts for digital communications. They will be in these categories:

1) email arrival, 2) incoming phone call, 3) new IM received, 4) calendar event alert

The goal is that the four alerts will work together as a suite — that is, that they will complement each other, yet be distinct and recognizable from each other. For the purposes of the Disquiet Junto, we were to present these four alert sounds as one single track, repeating each sound a few times.

PROCESS:

I had written an even more orchestrated piece this weekend. All of a sudden, though, it became a fictional 80s sitcom theme and didn’t really fit the assignment. So I reworked tiny bits of it into what you hear here. If you’re curious, the link to the other track is here: Thereflectors – Call-pop.

Ringtone:
Fwiw, I’ve used a splice of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes as my ringtone since I’ve had an mp3 capable smart-phone, so treating a longer, orchestrated track as a single “tone” felt like fair game. The guitar is in a 6th string drop-d tuning and just moves IV-I around a single phrase that moves up an octave in 5ths, (which was the ending phrase of my original track). I suppose this 5ths phrase is the “ringing” here, but I still like the concept of an orchestrated ringtone, fwiw. I tried to build the urgency (“pick up the call, would you!”) by adding maracas and clapping (which are the email and text alerts, respectively). Figured also a percussion build might help locate the phone in a deep bag. The title, btw, was also kind of a backwards-induced Father’s Day reference (yesterday, 17 June 2012, having been the day we celebrate “pop” – i.e., “dad” – here in the U.S.).

Email alert:
I get a lot of emails over the course of a day and did not want something too obtrusive. I shook a pair of maracas and thought “I wouldn’t mind hearing that peaceful shushing 18,000 times a day.”

Event alert:
The final rhythm guitar strum of the ringtone.

Text / IM / SMS alert:
Felt this deserved the most urgency of all the alerts (“hear me now, dammit!”), so it’s the repeated hand clap phrase from the ringtone. My text alert now on my iphone is the stock “telegraph” sound, so I tried to evoke this telegraph with a 3-clap phrase.

I’ll admit all of the alerts here are not very “alert-y,” but living in the bigbig city, I tend to not want to carry too many sirens in my pocket as I hear them enough trying to sleep.

As always, the junto is serious fun and lets me see myself in a totally new context.

Peace,
Westy

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More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


sineenis vibratootarbiv [disquiet0023-palindrone]

This week’s disquiet.com junto project was about drones, and we were charged with composing a piece of drone music using five of twenty provided source tracks. The source tracks (link below) were a series of drones made by Mystified (aka Thomas Park: @mystifiedthomas) from kazoo, bottle, slide whistle, and didgeridoo. We were not allowed to add any new sounds, but we could transform our selections any which way we wanted.

The drone, in turn, was to take the form of a palindrome. Once the track reached its midpoint, its structure was then to continue to unfold as a mirror, or reverse, of its first half.

So, for better or worse, after a lifetime of writing and recording all sorts of music and sounds, my first “drone.”

I used: bottle 1, didgeridoo 2, bottle 4, kazoo 2 and slidewhistle 2.

Vibrato and sine waves struck me as palindromic, so I applied these two effects in varying degrees to 4 of the samples, as well as resonant filters, reverb and distortion. I won’t go into every example here, but I did attempt to program all the effect parameters as palindromes (e.g., vibrato flips between 12 and -.21 semitones, resonance filters at 151hz w/ 77.7% resonance and 99.9% wet output, reverb decays of 2.2 secs., etc… you get the drift).

The piece runs 2:12, and is split into twelve 11 second intervals, with the midpoint happening at 66 seconds.

The didgeridoo in vibrato runs the length of the piece and has the forward track in the left channel and the reverse in the right, and the slide whistle does the same thing across the center 44 seconds. The other three tracks fade in and out at various multiples of 11 seconds, and each is run in reverse in the track’s latter half, mirroring whatever it did in the front.

In the end, i just felt like making some noise, nothing too melodic. The screaming thing in the middle is the slidewhistle run through a tube-amp distortion simulator and reverb. In fact, I never realized how much I have needed to run a slide whistle through a distortion pedal until this assignment. :^D

Looking at the waveform, it seems this is not a perfect sonic palindrome, but i’ll takekat whatahw i canac geteg with this one.

Peace,
Westy

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Samples courtesy of Mystified, aka frequent Disquiet Junto participant Thomas Park:
archive.org/details/Junto_23_Samples

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


tweed square [disquiet0020-nodebeat]

The 20th disquiet.com junto project in May 2012 explored the inherent creative limits of a mobile app. All participants employed the same app to complete the project.

Everyone working on this project used two instruments. One of those instruments was NodeBeat, an app available for iOS (iPhone, Touch, iPad), for Android, for Blackberry, and as a cross-platform (Flash) implementation. The other was an instrument of our choice; this second instrument was to fall into the broadly defined category of “traditional” — i.e., a keyboard, a guitar, woodwind, percussion, etc.

The project employed three steps:
Step 1: Create a piece of music in NodeBeat.
Step 2: Record a segment of that music no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than four minutes.
Step 3: Use that segment as the basis for a track employing one additional instrument.

I wrestled with the app’s ability to free-form soundscapes, so in the end, I chose to keep the the nodes and beat generators stationary. The app makes some classic electronica sounds and the keyboard’s square wave brought me back into a new wave head. Once programmed, I “played” the app for about 2:40, with no particular structure, just turning things on and off while playing the keyboard (in major pentatonic) that runs across the screen behind the nodes. Took me a few takes to find something I liked, and this is still a bit messy, but it was truly fun and i think i got a pretty big sound, in a way, for doing something totally on the fly.

Didn’t record in the app, though, but rather into Sony Acid from an iPad plugged direct into a MOTU interface. Then I played Jolie, my Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue, over the NodeBeat track in an open D# tuning through a 1961 Fender Tweed Champ emulator with the drive set at 8 and a bit of presence. Three guitar takes in all. Each was live, no punch in and everything got minimal processing (compression, enhancement, EQ). A “demo” in all senses, but also a window. And as always, the junto took me down a road I would never find on my own.

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This track employs the app NodeBeat, created by Seth Sandler, Justin Windle, and Laurence Muller.
More information on NodeBeat

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info
twitter.com/djunto


sliver of sky [disquiet0019-rojiura]

sliver of sky
where planes streak
birds fly
guide me to my dreams
hvac hum
rainfall drum
basement guitar practice strum
white noise cardboard pillow

face flashes in windows,
light strobes and mortar shadows
in an updown walldance
as homework ends,
as bills are paid,
as security makes rounds,
as embraces lead to encounters.

orion’s belt appears in winter
three hours into the night
his rodeo champion buckle
scrapes across the fire escapes
clanks against the risers
says farewell disappearing
behind the southern cornice.

3rd floor cigarette smoker
7th floor cool down
5th floor dinner burn,
crack the window.

2nd floor she always looks down
to make make sure i’m safe.
she knows i would save her
if i did not need saving.

dawn crawls

to leave me to the light,
to fall from the darkness
of my offgrid alleyhome unrooftop

white noise
sliver of sky.

This project explored the concept of graphic notation. We were challenged to treat the provided photograph as if it were a musical score.

bricks = guitar
mortar = synth pad
windows = bass
pipes & sky = white noise
fire escapes = guitar plucked behind its bridge

the beautiful photograph inspired poetry. i imagined a transient man, a regular in the alleyway, who often calls it home. i wrote the words first, then put sound to them. words are below.

the ratio of the full size image on my macbook was ~23 x ~18, so the track is right around 2 min 30 sec. used the vertical length as a frequency range.

the guitar is “squared,” using a fender twin opto-tremolo emulator, to mimic bricks. an ibanez screamer was layered on top and 3 live takes run simultaneously. i always think of heavy tremolo as a square or rectangular sound, but sometimes “i go about things the wrong way…”

a synth pad moves in and around the guitar to act like mortar between bricks, creating the 2 “walls.”

the pipes were white, so i took them literally to represent white noise. the frequency of the white noise sample follows the pipes’ descent in the left part of the photo. the proportions of the photograph gave me a loose vertical range of 0-1800hz. the white noise runs through a high-pass resonant filter and drops from 1800 until it hits the sky. there are 2 bursts of full noise as the horizontal pipes are crossed at ~70sec. the noise again blows out full in the middle sky section and then recedes to reflect the scattered white artifacts on the right half of the picture disappearing into shadow.

the bass was timed with the windows as you move across the photo.

i wanted a metallic sound to represent the fire escapes so i plucked my guitar behind the bridge through the opto-trem and screamer and got a sound i liked.

as always, junto opens up an absolutely fascinating creative journey.

peace,
westy

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This track treats a photo by Yojiro Imasaka as its score. More on Imasaka at yojiroimasaka.com.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


no brooklyn bound [disquiet0018-3×3]

sound 1: field recording – downtown new york city subway 6 train weekend service disruption announcement and surrounding ambience. recorded with iphone garageband.
sound 2: constructed beat – iphone garageband drum samples
sound 3: synth – programmed iphone animoog

minute 1: the drum is primary, backed by stabs and swoops of the synth and cut up portions of the subway announcement.
minute 2: the subway field recording runs full and uninterrupted, with the beat and synth stabs and swoops slightly tweaked, but retaining the same basic phrasing.
minute 3: the synth comes forward with a 2nd part, laid over the cut up subway announcement and drum beat.

the drum beat is a long phrase (fourteen 8-beat measures?) that repeats three times w/ a couple variations. i considered the entire phrase as one sound, even though it’s made of a kick, snare, high hat and cymbal. this was my first time using garageband to construct a beat and the result sounded something like my old boss dr-5. made me smile for that alone. the synth sound was programmed in iphone’s animoog app, and then played live using the app’s D#-minor pentatonic keyboard over the other 2 tracks. first minute is one take, second and third minutes contain a second take and the third minute a third take as the add’l part.

though everything was generated/recorded by an iphone, all sounds were dumped into sony acid (my daw that i just can’t shake), and all cutting up, loop creation, compression application and rendering happened there. i didn’t set out to use a subway recording for this week’s challenge, but my trips into and out of manhattan this weekend were maddening. this track became my way of processing the absurdity of a monolithic transportation schema that often leaves me feeling like a character in the film “brazil.”

probably best absorbed through headphones, fwiw.

enjoy,
westy

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The 18th disquiet.com junto project was “about how a simple matter of sequence can provide a sense of development and compositional momentum.”

The assignment was as follows:

Construct three simple, self-contained sounds (or sonic elements) that are distinct from each other. Then make a three-minute track out of these sounds, based on the following rules:
For each of the three minutes, one of the three sounds should be prominent, and the other two should be less prominent. By the end of the complete three minutes of your track, each of the three sounds, thus, will have been prominent for one full minute and will have served a background purpose for two full minutes.

We were allowed to transform the individual sounds, but they needed to still be somewhat recognizable even in their transformed state.

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info


waterfall love [disquiet0017-transition]

My contribution to the 17th week of the disquiet.com junto. The challenge was to take 30 seconds of a field recording, and slowly and seamlessly transition it into 1 of 2 given pre-existing tracks. Sounds could be added and the source tracks manipulated in any way. The first five seconds of the field recording and the last 5 seconds of the pre-existing track, however, were to be left untouched, aside from fading in and out.

I found a very pretty major chord arpeggio in the Lee Rosevere track, “The Day Love Came In The Mail” (link below) and mainly floated it up to its 5th and 7th and back down to the root a few times. The one grand manipulation (grand, for lo-fi me) was to separate the track’s left and right channels and treat each as its own entity until the final 10 seconds or so, when I sync’ed them back together as per the challenge. This allowed me to isolate the arpeggio in the left channel and pan it against the more floaty ambience contained in the right channel. Finally, I added a couple of spare beats hanging out on my media drive and some reverb & resonance to the ambient channel and to the fade-out of the waterfall during the middle section. Despite all the reworking and additions, I didn’t want to adulterate either source track too much as they both brought me such peace. So I hope most of the process here isn’t all that noticeable and you just float away on it for a couple minutes.

The field recording of the waterfall is from the audio track of a video I shot while walking my dog, Sterling (pictured), in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on Saturday 28 April 2012. I retrofitted the video to the finished audio piece, which you can check out here. Sterling’s not in the video, unfortunately, but it was a pretty day.

vimeo.com/41306430

This audio track includes a segment of “The Day Love Came In The Mail” by Lee Rosevere off the album Play 3 on the WM Recordings netlabel, thanks to Creative Commons license. More information at:
archive.org/details/WM074_900
www.wmrecordings.com/free-downloads…severe-play-3/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:
soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info