Disquiet Junto 0439 Self Less

The Junto this week asks for "music combining the styles of two musicians you admire."

I've attempted Duke Ellington and Mr Oizo.

Footage via Archive.org, my 225th video for the Disquiet Junto.

Hear me in Mexico

My remix for #StayHomeSounds by Cities And Memory is now online

Disquiet Junto 0438 Deep Plan

For some reason the Junto direction prompted me to think of a Paul Keating video I'd downloaded five years ago with a view to incorporating in a track.

It was serendipitous as Keating seems to be espousing a view of listening to links back to an observation about listening that I was prompted to write this week.

Aside from the TR-707 drum beat, all instrumentation came from the Gforce M-Tron Pro VST.

Ambient music fans

Toasted tracks

One of the surprising outcomes from abandoning Soundcloud has been making videos about toasted sandwiches.

I know, right?

Back when the Ninja Tune Forum was still a thing, I realised that I couldn't just brag about a great toasted sandwich.

Since I had a funky electronic song to share, I decided to add it to my blue cheese, leek and mushroom toastie.

Now I've posted my 32nd toasted sandwich and the soundtrack features Gforce Software's M-Tron Pro VST.

Aside from the percussion, I got a lot of inspiration from the huge number of instruments that software contains.

Live listening

Playing pool with my 11-year old yesterday and he made an observation that reminded me about the context of listening.

"It's more exciting hearing your favourite song on the radio, than it is playing it for yourself."

It was a profound observation for me and captured my own experiences listening to live and recorded sounds.

The sense of time seems to shift and listening can take us into a different temporal context.

That sense of being in the moment, like when a piece of music is broadcast, is something I'd observed while listening to 'the wires' for hours.

The recordings didn't have the same quality in more than the sense of fidelity.

It wasn't the discomfort of sitting on a granite rock, nor the experience of feeling the same breezes that would trigger the wave of harmonics.

I realised it was the moment and tension created from a cascade of thoughts, as I focused intently on the details in each micro-second.

It was a sense I was hearing something for the first time.

Being present while listening might be another description, much like the sense used by 'woke' individuals about living in the moment and not dwelling on the past or planning for a future.

I remember reading that Morton Subotnick would invite strangers into his apartment so that he would get the sense of hearing his recordings for the first time.

At various times I've heard musicians comment on how there's a similar tension when recording.

Gustav Ejstes described how "If we play it too many times before we record we lose something."

Sometimes I wonder if multitrack recording has diminished the thrill of hearing musicians sharing the same room – either from a richness in the sound of a bass player recorded through the kick drum microphone; or the performances as the band make eye contact with each other.

Perhaps it extends to the idea promoted by Dr John Diamond that digitised recordings provoke stress, as our brains have to reassemble the waveforms.

The thing that seems clear is that listening is an active experience and hearing your song on the radio feels like an invitation to enjoy that moment.

Stay Home Sounds

Cities And Memory's #StayHomeSounds is mentioned in The Monthly magazine and it's excited for me to see they used my quote from Leeton, even if it is unattributed.

Disquiet Junto 0437 Echo Relocation

The Disquiet Junto activity this week continues a prompt from artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats:

Record someone else’s field recording of their environment playing within your own.

I've played Name Constant's neighbourhood in my backyard at first light.

When you find the song

naviarhaiku332 – from evening mist

It was foggy this morning and I've been playing with piano loops recently, so the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week led me to ponder how would it sound if pianists passed each other in the fog?

Not sure if this ambient music is good

When listening is grieving

Years ago I lived in an old farmhouse surrounded by cows.

I'd started seeing the woman who is now my partner and she lived on a property surrounded by sheep.

One morning as we lay in bed, she made an observation that came to mind after I wrote about grieving for a changed world.

She remarked how one way cows identify their calves is by recognising the patterns on their skins.

I'm probably simplifying it but my understanding was that the brown splotches on Friesian cattle, for example, assist mothers to find their babies in the paddock.

In contrast, I think she said, sheep listen for their voices among the herd.

I've often reflected that sheep must be always keeping an ear out for the distinctive bleat of their lambs.

My partner might have been telling me this as her family at that time would slaughter their own livestock.

It led me to consider that one can look around and, if you don't see something, you might not notice it is missing.

However, I wonder if we are always listening for meaningful sounds -- such the phenomena described as "miraculous agitations" in this old post.

In doing so we might be, consciously or subconsciously, regularly reminded of loss.

Recent discussions of being sentimental for sounds from another time has been on my mind since I started noticing how many projects online and on the radio are currently focusing on recording and listening to the changes in our landscapes.

naviarhaiku331 – Peaks of cloud

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week brought to mind the weathervane at the end of my street.

It prompted me to explore piano loops of varying lengths, while aiming to get an Eno-esque ambient result.

When you're 13

Disquiet Junto 0436 Planetary Headspace

The Disquiet Junto this week invites close listening to the landscape, through sharing recordings and participating in a communal soundscape:
Download field recordings by other Junto members. Play the downloaded tracks in one ear, leaving your other ear open to hear the sounds in your midst. As you listen to the stereo soundscapes, your hearing will be extended, situating you in acoustic environments that you’ll share with other participants.
I've recorded the galahs that nest in a park at the end of my street.

Their chatter is a sound I associate with the town of Leeton and hearing them helps me recognise first light when I'm at home.

Grieving for a changed world

While I haven't studied the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), I have been prompted to consider how they make sense of the range of responses I see from people discussing the swift social changes since Covid-19 became a worldwide phenomenon.

I was just reading an interview with sound artist Maria Chávez and thought I'd share this part:
"I always thought field recording was just an audio snapshot, really. Now, taking the audio snapshot and adapting it to our present moment – who knew our times [would] so drastically [change] in a matter of two weeks. And my god, all of these field recordings that we’ve all been doing for the past 20-30 years, especially as the hand-held recorders got more and more accessible for the general public – I used to think of it all as, What are we going to do with all this stuff? It’s just trash, everybody’s just recording field recordings. I’d always roll my eyes. Now I’m like, You’re such an idiot. Thank god everybody was recording our world because it’s gone. 
"Concerts and live events will never be the same even if they can. You know what I mean? Now that I’ve changed my mind about all of these ridiculous amounts of recording, I think somehow we all knew. That we were privileged in some way to live in this world. Everybody I knew that was really into field recordings was just frantic – once they got hooked on it, it was like a rabbit hole. Now I just feel like, My god, we’re so lucky. Now we need to make a library of everything that everyone has done and it’ll be audible postcards of our past that we’ll never be able to hear again."

I'm not so sentimental about capturing concerts and live events, because so often they reinforce the feeling that one had to be there.

As a student of history I can see their value in providing a sense of what it is like to stand in a crowd, although the proximity effect of most microphones will likely make many listeners wonder how one endured the noises from nearby strangers.

However, like those recordings, the sentimentality for something that's both close and distant seems analogous with the experiences many are now sharing.

The recent disruptions to our lives by Covid-19 is in stark contrast to the relatively carefree experiences of only a few months earlier.

Like many others I have been going through the disappointment of re-evaluating my plans for the year and recognising it's possible some events will never be the same again.

It's a mild expression of depression but I'm sad that I can't imagine I'll be stripping off and brushing shoulders with people running around a burning effigy anytime in the near future, for example.

Yesterday I read a profile of the actor Val Kilmer that was remarkable how it illustrated a journalist grappling with uncertainties.

I found the piece fascinating for the way the article moves from trying to reconcile the actor's philosophy about illness, to trying to make sense of a series of profound changes in the journalist's life.

We're all making sense of living during a pandemic and this week I'm digging into how that manifests in creative pursuits.

One outcome for my music-making was recognising a piece I'd been looking forward to sharing had been set aside until things settle.

Cities and Memory founder Stuart Fowkes replied to my inquiry about the Future Cities project:
"Future Cities is delayed due to the ongoing destruction of all that our cities previously stood for! Will release that one later in the year!"
I expect it's going to be a while before those futures feel possible again!

In the meantime, I wonder if my opportunity to record a sense of the anxiety of visiting the supermarket has passed.

This week I'm surprised how quickly people have returned to what was normal, as I navigated the groups conversing in the aisles.

I also noticed the regular messages about social-distancing that would interrupt the in-store music have stopped.

It's both a relief and a cause for concern that so many in my community have moved on from practising the measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Maybe it's denial?