Disquiet Junto Project 0563: Digital Magical Realism

These instructions first popped up at disquiet.com/0563 (thanks to the powers of automation) shortly after 12:10am Pacific Time on October 13, and then at twitter.com/disquiet a little further along (also automated). (I was quite asleep at the time.) The email containing those instructions went out via tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto later in the morning (after I woke up), and then I posted them here.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, October 17, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

Tracks are added to the SoundCloud playlist for the duration of the project. Additional (non-SoundCloud) tracks appear in the llllllll.co discussion thread.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0563: Digital Magical Realism
The Assignment: What does this imaginary genre sound like?

Step 1: Think about what a genre means, where it begins, where it ends, what makes a genre a genre.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the concept of magical realism, most often associated with the fiction of such authors as Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Jorge Luis Borges, Alice Hoffman, and Haruki Murakami, among others.

Step 3: Imagine what “digital magical realism” would sound like, were it the name of a genre.

Step 4: Record a piece of music that sounds like what you think “digital magical realism” sounds like.

The cover image for this project is from DALL·E 2. The prompt: “sleeping person floating horizontally above suburban home, night, streetlight, highly realistic photograph.”

Eight Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0563” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0563” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your tracks. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your tracks.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0563-digital-magical-realism/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #DisquietJunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Step 8: Also join in the discussion on the Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to marc@disquiet.com for Slack inclusion.

Note: Please post one track for this weekly Junto project. If you choose to post more than one, and do so on SoundCloud, please let me know which you’d like added to the playlist. Thanks.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is the end of the day Monday, October 17, 2022, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

Length: The length is up to you. Probably not as long as a novel.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0563” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is always best to set your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 562nd weekly Disquiet Junto project – Digital Magical Realism (The Assignment: What does this imaginary genre sound like?) – at: https://disquiet.com/0563/

More on the Disquiet Junto at: https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here: https://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co: https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0563-digital-magical-realism/

The cover image for this project is from DALL·E 2. The prompt: “sleeping person floating horizontally above suburban home, night, streetlight, highly realistic photograph.”

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And it’s live. Thanks, folks.

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Unusually for these challenges I am not submitting a ‘new’ composition but I do believe that I am submitting a new piece of music … and it is genuinely one of my favourite pieces of music ever - even though I found it - but it has never had that final stamp of approval - DONE.

The original sounds on this this recording were born of a Disquiet Junto challenge some time during last year (disquiet0509). Since then I have been tinkering, faffing and generally fiddling with this piece because I have never felt that I could finally lay it to rest and deem it finished.

Until this morning … What I didn’t realise it so desperately needed - until I’d spent some time thinking about this particular challenge was just what this is all about - a genre. The content itself didn’t need changing, it was the presentation as it were - it needed a wrapper; an over-arching description that encapsulated form, content and style - a genre. So, after a long discussion with my partner, who has read the authors quoted it became as though I couldn’t see past this piece while considering just what Digital Magical Realism might sound like.

Listening to it again, tinkering, and faffing, and fiddling with it (again), but this time for the last time, before mastering and uploading, I finally, finally believe this piece to be at rest … done …… just.as.it.should.be.

Sometimes something ‘outside the box’ actually needs its own, new box to be finally defined, and that’s what giving this piece a genre has done … It is, I believe, from today, a prime example of Digital Magical Realism.

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Hello, you mention Borges on the “Realismo Mágico” references, coincidentally just yesterday, I had the pleasure to work on the digital release of a long out-of-print spoken word album Borges made reading some of his work Borges por El Mismo. As a massive Jorge Luis Borges fan it was a privilege to listen to his isolated voice (and discover some unseen session photos). When the session was over and all 4 albums were uploaded (1 for Borges, and other albums for Corazar, Marechal and Bonzalez Tuñon) I got this email. Nice!

I spent the late night of Thursday and some very early hours of Friday 14th/Oct developing this impromptu composition, my “live” upright piano, some synth and samples and Borges voice from his text “Borges y Yo”

Acoustic upright piano (Yamaha)
Subdivine
Valhalla Supermassive
Thrill (K inst)
Symphobia (K inst)

BTW, this is my 200th junto submission…

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I don’t think you can mention Magical Realism and music and not mention Jon Hassell. A little Hassell in this weeks project in terms of style and the means of production. Eno introduced Hassell to the Eventide Harmionizer in the late 70’s, and used many incarnations of the Harmonizer over the years. Recently I’ve been playing around with VSig (Eventides development tool) making algorithms for the H9000, this weeks track uses a resonant reverse panned delay I’ve been working on. Simple chord progression played on a Modal 002, spectral filtered delay on the percussion, bass from a PolyBrute, H8000 harmonizing a Yamaha VL1 Sax patch… and some whistling.

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That is so cool. And on that topic: I always feel like coincidence is a manifestation of magical realism in everyday life.

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Talking about Magic Realism South America comes to mind. But there is awonderful book from another continent: “Transparent Citiy” by Angolan author Ondjaki. Great story. A deep dive into the city of Luanda, that makes you wanna be there.
Track is inspired by this book .

Instruments: Yamaha TG77 controlled by Torso T1 sequencer.

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After discarding two tracks, which where just “too magic” (Rippling Along and Time Drowning Mechanism, if someone is interested), I went to this one, which may have “too much realism”. The idea of Digital Magical Realism was to combine realistic field recordings that don’t match realistically, plus synths that mimic real instruments, but not realistically enough, because of … digital reasons or so.

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Arguably reaching its peak before it became overground, the period of the posthumously named Digital Magickal Realism movement (1988-1993) was mercifully brief. Seeking to fill the ritualistic and shamanistic gaps where the first incarnation of Psychic TV left off, after moving on allegedly invent acid house.

Pioneered by idle white boy late teenagers from the midlands in England, with Tascam Porta Ones and Elka synths, the cassette spools were left to run on record capturing wandering improvisations, while the protganists were busy reading the early Neil Gaiman DC comic books, hence this relatively obscure genre’s name.

Typical to the production would be sparseness of sound, leaving the mistakes in, and percussion making itchy sounds that were panned to the left and the right, not quite right sounding, like something in the corner of your eye.

Seminal musicians of the genre would be Lenny Claves and Damian Deviant, the latter’s ‘Plain Pandora’ acknowledged as the most influential of the genre’s output. With Lenny and Damian having to get jobs, respectively, in a record shop and a music examiner’s office, the Digital Magickal Realism oeuvre pretty much died out, leaving scant impression behind.

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Buen dia,

On one of my last trips to Macondo I must have picked up the manifesto in a bar.

Although I was a huge fan of the writing I always thought the DMR music sucked a bit

to be honest.

The manifesto is a bit worn and tattered now. I should have looked after it a better,

it’s probably worth good money on Ebay now.

Some of the lines are illegible but I have done the best I could to make sense of it after all this time.

It definitely states in no uncertain terms that drums are to be avoided.

Organic time keeping is good for you. I think it was referred to as mano libre back then.

Bring out the yellow butterflies hiding in your filter.

Include a banana for trainspotters.

Look for the extraordinary happening everyday.

With that I set off to find Remedios the Beauty.

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Aviantimatter (disquiet0563)

I returned to the Samplebrain tracks from a couple of weeks ago – I had subjected one of the results to my trusty demo copy of The Mangle. One of the original samples was of birdsong, and they reappear in an interestingly altered way, realistic and yet surrealistic/enhanced/dreamlike as well. Which may or may not be what this Disquiet is about. Or both.

Image courtesy of NightCafe AI generator

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And the playlist is rolling:

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I had an idea to go from my digits on the bass, through the digital effects pedals and toward something magical, while the realism of a single-take recording kept it anchored as a performance.

My bass is looped with a JamMan and made magic with a SuperEgo and Tri-Reverb, while a second bass part is split through a Switchblade to go through a Talking Machine pedal.

I edited a couple of loops around the three-minute mark, just because I was fiddling around.

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Along with the writers mentioned under the broad umbrella of magical realism, I would also count two of my favourite writers (Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco) as falling - if not squarely into - frequently against the margins of the genre.

Immediately works by Calvino came to mind. After all, I named my home studio after one of the cities from Invisible Cities(Maurilia), so parts of my creative world takes a fair chunk of inspiration from his wonderful mind.

Aside from Invisible Cities, I was reminded of my favourite book of his, the meta-novel, If On A Winter’s Night… (1979) where the reader and the story itself progressively becomes a slippery boundary, before both worlds collapse into each other. With this is mind and this week’s prompt I thought about sound collages, musique concrete and field recordings, with material sourced from digital technologies.

I pulled up a personal archive of field recordings made with several different technologies, ranging from lo-fi to hi-fi sources (old phones, digital cameras, minidisc players, handheld digital recorders, nice mic rig.)

I selected recordings which evoked aspects of If On A Winter’s Night…, mostly restricted to ambiences and sounds which possess double-meanings or are general indistinct as to their source. There’s also literal references to some of the objects/events/phenomena that feature throughout the book, such as: the sound of trains, streetscapes, the ocean, wind, etc. In some instances the sounds have been manipulated a rendered in more tonal/sonorous forms along with discrete synth textures.

I wanted to create a dense collage of these sounds, much like a hectic dream, where time is compressed and where one skips, zooms and pulls in and out of several environments, seemingly in quick succession. Some transitions appear to blend together, whilst others are more abrupt.

I took the title of this piece from one of the chapters of this book, the beautiful and very poetically named “Without fear of wind or vertigo”.

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I used a field recording from yesterday as my realism layer, to which I added a digital voice manipulated digitally.

Field Recording into DIsting EX (.wav recorder, looped) into channel B of XOH

Teletype clocking Nautilus, and playing Just Friends in JF. MODE 1 using lydian scale. The Nautilus sonar output is driving the sequence.

JF>Jumble Henge> Sqwk Dirty> Nautilus> Aurora> Channel A of XOH

Modulating Nautilus, Aurora, Sqwk Dirty, and JF by hand.

The field recording (realism) and the digital magical elements seem to be fighting for dominance at times which is something I enjoyed (as opposed to just turning the field recording way down).

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Hey All,
Believe or don’t, I was levitating when I made this.
Marc’s intro got me thinking about albums I listened to over and over and I took a loop from that. It is pretty easy to guess the song.
Hope all are well.

Peace, Hugh

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For this week’s project I started with my Roland D-50, my most digital sounding synth, and controlled it with midi generated by Orcλ. I layered other sounds on top that I thought fell into the digital magical realism theme like physically modeled percussion, slowed field recordings and a synth chord run through harmonizer (trying to get that Jon Hassell feel). I’m pretty happy with the results!

Here’s a screenshot of the orcλ that was sent to the D-50:

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I suppose having an active imagination and discovering magical elements in the world around us is a form of magical realism. Certain styles of anime, especially by director Hayao Miyazaki, seem to fit that interpretation for me. This piece is part of a project I’ve been working on for the past few months. It tries to musically imagine a woodland fern grove, where the plants come alive, not in a strictly anthropomorphic sense like a Disney movie, but in a more subtle and realistic way. The ferns wave not only with the breeze or wind, but as gestures of acknowledgment to each other or to any creature observing them.

This was created using the Falls script by @ambalek on the Norns Shield. This script, as well as others that are inspired by nature, might be a form of digital magical realism. Drone tracks and multiple effects, were added in Abelton Live.

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How would digital magical realism sound like? Before that, what’s realism in music? Here I have tried balancing acousmatic and acoustic voices in a dramatic narrative, with the immense Gabriel García Márquez humane landscapes as a reference.

Made with Native Instruments Maschine+ and Dave Smith Prophet 12.

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