Despite the Downturn

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album

Marc Wiedenbaum of the incredible online magazine Disquiet invited me a couple of weeks ago to contribute to a compilation of new music. The compilation is a “non-verbal response” to an article written by Megan McArdle that was published in the May 2010 issue of the Atlantic (still on the racks as of today).

The idea was to use the illustration by Jeremy Traum that accompanied McArdle’s article as a graphic score for a new piece of music. As Marc describes it:

There are at least two major traditions in the intermingling of visual art and music. One is when musicians pay homage to an existing artwork, as in Morton Feldman’s musical tribute to the Rothko Chapel, or more recently Ted Nash’s “Portrait in Seven Shades” (a Jazz at Lincoln Center commission based on works from the Museum of Modern Art by Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack, and others).

The other is when musicians treat a graphic image as a score, an approach with a strong avant-garde lineage. Among the best examples is Christian Marclay’s “Graffiti Composition.” It involved setting up musical notation paper all around Berlin, and then — after the blank staffs had been scrawled on, layered with advertisements, and otherwise damaged — collecting them and selecting those most redolent with musical potential. The pages were later collected as a book and are used as scores by musicians.

This project, Despite the Downturn, is a mix of those two traditions: it’s an homage to a work that wasn’t intended to be read as music, and yet the homage involves treating it as a proper score.

I was honored to have been asked to contribute, intrigued by the artistic protest angle of the concept and inspired by the ‘graphic score’ by Traum. I contributed a track called “StaffGrabbing” which mangles some appropriated samples of solo piano and hip hop drumbeats.

Download the compilation for free from the Internet Archive here:

Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album

Please also check out Disquiet’s new article announcing the release:

and his original article responding to the McArdle piece:
What, After All, Is the “Music Industry”?


  1. […] are doing their part to get the word out, among them Tom Moody at, C. Reider at, Moldilox (aka Joseph Luster) at, Mark Rushton at […]

    TrackBack by Disquiet » Despite the Downturn: Initial Responses | May 6, 2010 7:41 am
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