News from the Sonic Arts Network

Interesting Results

Sonic Arts Network announces the 15 November as the release date for the third of its CD publications “Interesting Results”, curated by Irwin Chusid. Chusid is a self-described "landmark preservationist," who finds things on the scrap-heap of musical history that he knows don't belong there, and salvages them. He launched the Raymond Scott and Esquivel revivals by producing CD reissues of those maestros, and has long managed the business affairs of both composers (now deceased). He codified a new musical genre with his first book, Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000, A Cappella Books), and produced two companion CDs of the same title. In 2001, Chusid produced The Langley Schools Music Project, which became an unexpected sensation -- it reached #1 on and was the subject of a VH-1 documentary. His journalism has appeared in Pulse, New York Press, The New York Times, Billboard, Mix, Film Comment, Gramophone, and elsewhere. Since 1975, he has hosted a weekly free-form radio program on WFMU.

Interesting Results celebrates the individual. Do-It-Yourself has always been with us. Before assembly lines, clocks and shoes were made by artisans, one at a time. Ambitious amateur musicians have made and released records independently since the advent of 78 rpm discs. However, in the 1970s, with the emergence of the consumer cassette revolution, DIY became a philosophical phenomenon. Since that decade, as technology developed and the cost of studio gear plummeted, the playing field for recording artists has leveled. What once entailed a lengthy, complex and expensive process can now be done on the quick and cheap. And, often, in solitude. This doesn't mean all bedsitter recordings will get heard -- but they exist. We just have to find them -- and find time to listen.

The CD features exclusive tracks from Peter Grudzien, “Shooby” Taylor ‘The Human Horn’, Lucia Pamela, B.J. Snowden, R. Stevie Moore and other extraordinary artists. In keeping with the DIY aesthetic of the publication the booklet includes special ‘cut out and assemble’ figures of the artists as well as detailed track notes by the curator. SAN members can look forward to this wonderful and alarming package appearing in their snail mail inbox in mid November.

Jeu de Temps

Back in 2003 Sonic Arts collaborated with the CEC in Canada on their Jeu de Temps project - a competition for emerging composers and artists that occupies the web as a forum for exhibiting new work. We offered a chance to travel to Montreal, win hard cash, take part in events and be featured on a CD released in the UK and Canada.

The UK competition was won by Theodore Lotis whose work was performed at festivals in Quebec and who traveled to Montreal to the Rien a Voir festival in October 2003. A further four artists received cash awards and ten are featured on the CD.  Here in London, we held a private listening event at the Lux Gallery in Hoxton Square and many of the works were broadcast on Resonance FM.

For those of you holding your breath in anticipation of hearing these works on CD (they’ve all been on our website since the winners were announced), the wait is over and we are pleased to announce that all 20 of the winning works from the UK and Canada will be available on a double CD that will plop onto members doormats later this month.

Jeu de temps, of course continues in Canada and check out their website ( for details of the competition in 2004 and 2005. Meantime if competitions are your thing, why not make a jingle for our Big Ears radio show and win yourself £10 and airtime on “the best radio station in the world”, Resonance FM. Find out more here..


5 -7 November
LMC Annual Festival of Experimental Music
Museum of Garden History, London
Now in its 13th year, London Musicians' Collective's Annual Festival has become a notorious for setting the  agenda of new music making and its influence is felt across the avant-garde world. Just to surprise itself,
this year it is devoted to guitar soloists, with fifteen leading players from over the world: southern US slide guitar sensation Susan Alcorn; Sardinian pop deconstructionist Paulo Angeli; seventeen year old tabletop talent Tom Besley; free improv beatnik melodist John Bisset; spiky acoustician Peter Cusack; North American folksie fingerer Janet Feder; Zorn-approved fretboard freak Alfredo Genovesi; dazzling dada jazz stylist Billy Jenkins; lopsidedly lyrical Simon King; classy minimalist recalcitrant Annette Krebs; limpid lickmeister Alan Licht; frenetic feedback maverick Paul Mumford; the godlike godfather of all things avant Keith Rowe; brilliant downtown out-blues baldy Elliott Sharp; and post-punk rock picker Dave Tucker.

The most instrumental of instruments, even in the age of the laptop's ascendancy the guitar allows for seemingly endless expressive configurations. The players here have perhaps only one thing in common: a shared versatility and a willingness to experiment. They range from Keith Rowe, "the Jackson Pollock of the guitar" whose work with improv group AMM in the 1960s influenced Syd Barrett and Pete Townsend, heralding an end to traditional notions of technique - to Elliott Sharp, a guitarist steeped in the US blues and last seen in London in the company of the legendary Hubert Sumlin. Susan Alcorn plays Sun Ra numbers on the pedal steel guitar, of which she is an internationally acknowledged virtuoso while, at the other end of the scale, Tom Besley is a typical self-taught local schoolboy. Other performers include Sardinian guitarist Paulo Angeli, making his UK debut, ex-Fall sideman Dave Tucker, former Homelife songsmith Simon King, and the always entertaining and always musical Billy Jenkins.

In addition to the main stage, there is a free Fringe (at the 12 Bar Club) where the players will perform in ad hoc combinations and with special guests.

12-13 November
Seed Records 4th Birthday
(live performance)
Aldwych, London
Seed records celebrate their fourth year with a weekend of DJ sets and live acts including; Apparat, Bell03, Coil, Le Petit Orb, Tomp, B12 and Mark Pritchard and many, many more. Held at Aldwych Disused Tube Station.

24 November
Radian vs Fennesz
Bush Hall, London
An electroacoustic fracas between Radian and Fennesz.

Saturday 27 November
(Live Performance)
Jug of Ale, Birmingham

Ongoing travels through the far reaches of interstellar soundscapes at a velocity that rivals that of darkness creeping over the horizon. 5ive slowly but surely grips with its sonic mantras, hypnotizing audiophiles into trance-like states of aural ecstasy. Similar to a black hole in its colossal power, 5ive's ability to suck in the consciousness of spectators into its realm of existence remains unrivalled by any other force in the universe.

Monday 29 November
(Live Performance)
Custard Factory, Birmingham

SUNN 0))) is a side project of Khanate/Burning Witch (Steve O' Malley) and Goatsnake (Greg Anderson) members. It was formed in memory of the cult drone-riff founders EARTH and honours the beautiful Ozma. The SUNN0))) mission is to create trance like soundscapes with the ultimate low end/bottom frequencies intended to massage the listeners intestines into an act of defecation.

kREEPA mix electronic and acoustic elements to create improvisations that explore the dynamic interplay between acousmatic synthesis and instrumental approaches.

Saturday 27 November
Michaelhouse Centre, Cambridge
Zaum makes music instantly conceived and played by improvisers brought together by drummer Steve Harris. Steve has been active on the British jazz and improvised music scene since the early 80s. Improvisers from wildly contrasting backgrounds, including Cathy Stevens - six string Eviolectra, viola; Udo Dzierzanowski – guitar; Geoff Hearn - tenor/alto/soprano sax; Karen Wimhurst - clarinet/bass clarinet; Adrian Newton - live and found samples. Zaum has recently been described in The Wire as 'one of Britain’s most remarkable improvising ensembles’. The current national tour is timed to coincide with release of Zaum's second album. Further details of this and other tour dates at

19 - 28 November
Huddesfield Contemporary Music Festival
Various venues, Huddersfield

HCMF delivers its 27th celebration of cutting-edge jazz, orchestral, choral and electro-acoustic performances, along with film, dance and music theatre. Over 40 events packed into 10 days, including concerts, workshops, films, discussions and theatrical performances. bringing together figures of international renown with emerging creativity and young talent. This year's Festival promises over 28 UK premieres, 12 world premieres and 4 commissions of brand new work.

Saturday 4 December
The State of Affairs II
(One Day Symposium)
Conway Hall, London

A one day symposium featuring Max Eastley, John Levack Drever, Conor Kelly, Andrew McGettigan, Dave Beech and Salom Voegelin.

Workshop: "Emergent Content Creation Using Simple Genetic Algorithms'
STEIM, Amsterdam - 21-24 October 2004. Instructor: Kim Cascone

For this workshop you will need to bring:
- a laptop (XP, Mac OSX, or Linux)
- an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi card
- audio software you like to work with
- a web browser
- a chat client
- willingness to work in a group structure
- your imagination and enthusiasm

In this workshop each participant acts as a active node in a creative network using
technologies such as TWiki and chat. Using software you normally use we will embark on an experiment to breed a piece of audio art. We will evolve a sound piece starting with a library of sound files provided by the microsound list and then will mutate and cross-breed them until a work of sonic art emerges. The final piece will then be performed for the public by the group at the end of the workshop.

Online Registration:

Max MSP Workshops
11, 18 & 25 November

If you work with live video or sound, or if you want to work with sensors, or midi, or even 2d or 3d graphics, java, xml, movement recognition, mathematical algorithms, musical sequencing, real time video effects,controlling operations over a network - or all the above at the same time, then Max MSP may be exactly what you need.

A three-day introduction to Max MSP, featuring the programming environment and sound modules. This course is suitable for beginners in Max, but a working knowledge of computers is desirable. This is a project-based course that would appeal to artists and musicians who have heard of this legendary programme, but have no idea where to start!

James Brouwer is a digital video /sound artist living in Nottingham, he has shown work at Lovebytes festival (Sheffield) Sonar (Barcelona) and has had residencies at HTBA and Leeds City Art Gallery, and most recently played a live set in Berlin. He records under the mijim on Melange records (UK) and is a part of 'Powerbooks for Peace' on Alku (Spain).

Course Cost £100 (£50 unwaged), 6 places available. Booking & Information 01482 307070.

Massachusetts College of Art

Established in 1873, Massachusetts College of Art (MassArt) was the first and remains the only freestanding public college of art and  design in the US. The college is nationally known for offering broad access to a quality professional arts education, accompanied by a strong general education in the liberal arts. A major cultural force in Boston, MassArt offers public programs of innovative exhibitions, lectures and events.

The Studio For Interrelated Media (SIM) program within the Media and Performing Arts Department is seeking a highly motivated Contemporary Media Artist for a full-time, tenure track position beginning Fall,  2005.

SIM is a multimedia program with a strong emphasis on critique and conceptual foundations. The SIM curriculum is built upon a Major Studio class comprising weekly student-run presentations and productions where students select, schedule and technically support their colleagues' presentations; as well as idea-centred art-making; team teaching; and individualized advising. Students work in all media, with a  concentration on interdisciplinary practice and innovative technologies. Please visit for more information.

Applicants should possess appropriate experience and commitment to teaching and advising a diverse student body, a strong portfolio, and multi-disciplinary knowledge (including some combination of the following - interactive media, video, sound, live performance, installation). Experience with web-based applications and/or computer programming a plus. Applicants should have a demonstrated vision for  21st century Art-making. Experience with team teaching is essential. Position includes administrative and departmental responsibilities. MFA or  equivalent degree is required. Review of applications will begin December 1, 2004. Position open until filled. Send letter, CV, and statement of teaching philosophy to:

SIM Search Committee
Human Resources
Massachusetts College of Art
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston MA 02115


Research Fellow in Fine Art (Digital Media Art)
University of Sunderland
Fixed Term to 31st December 2007. £21,640 per annum.

You will establish, develop and run a research unit for digital media  art housed within the area of Fine Art.  It is expected that this will  involve a programme of research/professional practice activity with researchers/artists of national and international standing.

The research unit will have a focus on co-operative opportunities from within Art and Design and will also seek to work collaboratively with other institutions and artists in the UK and abroad. You will also be expected to carry out personal research within the context of the unit and to contribute to the teaching of Fine Art (2 days per week at undergraduate and/or postgraduate levels).

For enquiries please contact Eric Bainbridge, tel: (0191) 515 3772 or email:

Ref No:  ADR001/01

The University of Sunderland application form and Role Profile for these posts can be obtained by contacting the Human Resources Department on 0191 515 2057 or

Closing Date: 12th November 2004


17-20 JUNE 2005 - In conjunction with University of Hull, Scarborough Campus
Deadline for proposals: 31 January 2021

Expo 966 is an opportunity to showcase the work of the best UK practitioners, to meet, listen and respond. After the success of last year's highly eclectic event in Leicester the focus now shifts northward with a packed weekend of SAN curated action hosted in association with The University of Hull, Scarborough Campus. This weekend of performance, exhibition and presentation will take place across a variety of public venues and spaces in Scarborough including concert halls, bars and nightclubs, each reflecting the unique culture of this northern seaside town. The weekend aims to highlight the broadest possible range of approaches and thinking that surrounds the sonic arts. We welcome submissions of all kinds.

There is no charge for the submission or acceptance of work, and indeed entry to the weekend continues to be free to all members of Sonic Arts Network with most events free to all members of the public. We do ask that selected artists attend the event.

Call for Works, Papers and Commission Proposals


Submissions are sought in all forms of sonic art including real-time interactive works, improvisation with technology, experimental electronica, instrumental/electroacoustic mixes, acousmatic music, installations, environmental sound work, performances, internet-based creative work, sound and image works and cross-arts work. Though we welcome submissions of all kinds we are particularly keen to receive submissions that reflect in some way the cultural context of Scarborough.

Works must have been created after January 2004.

Some resources are limited and, for example performers must be supplied by the submitting artists, however a range of performance and presentation spaces will be available at The Spa Centre on the Scarborough seafront (including a large auditorium with open stage and a generous bar space suitable for less formal concert presentation) and the Campus Centre, University of Hull Scarborough Campus  (including two performance spaces, a bar space equipped with PA system and video projection and multiple rooms of various sizes for the presentation of installation work). There is also scope for outdoor performance and we will be staging late bar gigs on every night of the conference including a Friday evening opening gig at the Ocean Room at the Spa Complex on the Scarborough seafront and an exclusive electro-cabaret event for late Saturday night in a renowned local nightclub! 

Available equipment will include: a multi-channel sound diffusion system catering for projection of stereo and multi-channel works (ADAT or hard disk) and smaller, adaptable stereo systems suitable for installation work, Macintosh G5 (dual processing) and G4 computers (OSX and OS9.2) with Digi001, 002 and MOTU 828 Firewire (mark one) audio interfaces. Video projection facilities are also available.

Research Papers

Aurality and Identity

Aurality and Identity is the theme of the final day of the conference (Monday 20 JUNE 2020) that will be devoted to research presentations relating to the ever-increasing presence, and wider understanding of, the social implications of sound. This is to include the use of sound in projects and works that address concepts of cultural, social and political identities as well as the role played by aurality in learning and communication with regard to social development and education theory.  Presentations may take the form of written papers or discussions of creative, research or practical work (including work in progress). Presenters should plan for 20 minutes presentation time and a further 10 minutes discussion time will be allowed.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions of papers and works should include:

_ Title of work/paper

_ Name of author(s)

_ Contact details (name, address, telephone/fax, email, URL)

_ Brief bio (150 words max.)

_ Description of artistic concept (250 words max.)/Abstract summary of paper (500 words max.)

_ For artistic submissions, the role of technology in realisation of work (100 words max.)

_ Technical resources required for presentation (specifying those that can be supplied by the artist in the case of artistic submissions)

_ For artistic submissions an audio/video example of work (CD or link to www site)

*Please note, we require the written information to be emailed to Dan Stone at and clearly labeled hardcopy of examples of work to be sent to:

Expo 966
Sonic Arts Network
The Jerwood Space
171 Union St
United Kingdom

Deadline for proposals: 31 January 2021


In addition to our call for existing works, we are once again pleased to offer two commission opportunities for the creation of new works to be premiered at the Conference. Proposals for work are invited from British artists or artists living and working in the UK. A sum of £1000 is offered for the creation, production and realisation of new work.

Place, Environment, Location, Identity

Works that address these themes and specifically the context of Scarborough, it’s landscape, environment, history, culture and people are particularly encouraged.

Commission proposals should include:

_ Title of work

_ Your name

_ Your contact details (name, address, telephone/fax, email, URL)

_ A brief biography (150 words max.)

_ Audio/video example of your previous work (or link to www site)

_ A Description of the artistic concept to be commissioned (500 words max.)

_ The technical resources required for the presentation (specifying those which will be supplied by the artist)

_ A simple budget specifying your fee, the production and material costs, presentation/ performance costs, other costs (and any other sources of funding where required)

*Please note, we require the written information to be emailed to and clearly labeled hardcopy examples of work to be sent to:

Expo 966 Commissions
Sonic Arts Network
The Jerwood Space
171 Union St
United Kingdom

Commission proposals should be clearly labeled and reach the Sonic Arts Network office by January 31 2005

The time-scale for creation and completion of work is 1 March 2021 to 1 June 2020 and proposals should demonstrate a strategy/timetable for successful completion within this period.

Sonic Arts Network's Hi[gh]BroW call
An International Tape Music Composition Competition

As part of its extensive and acclaimed commissioning policy Sonic Arts Network is once again flying the flag for that much maligned and slighted phenomenon – the international tape music composition competition.

Hi[gh]BroW seeks original works of quality and genius. Certain rigorous conditions must be met for works to be considered to be of suitable quality, depth and humanity to be considered for the grand prize:

Duration: no longer than 10 seconds

Text: All works must use the set text “Big Ears from Sonic Arts Network”. Any other material included is at the composer’s discretion.

The winning work will be extensively broadcast during Sonic Arts Network’s prestigious Big Ears show on Resonance FM (Every Monday. 5pm-6.30pm. 104.4FM. Web streaming at

In addition the triumphant composer will be honoured in a live telephone ceremony held during the show. A generous prize of 10 British pounds will also be awarded to the victorious artist.

Works must be emailed in mp3 format to with the name, address and contact phone number of the composer included. The subject title should read Hi[gh]BroW.

The deadline for submissions is the 6 December 2020 with the announcement of the jury decision being made live on air on the 13 December during the Big Ears show.

The best entries will be made available on a “no expense spared” burn to order CDR…


We eagerly anticipate your artistic responses.

The Sonic Arts Network Team

Fourteenth Annual Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival – Call for Works, Presentations and Papers
7-9 April 2005, University of Florida, United States of America
Deadline for receipt of submitted materials: Friday 15 October 2020

After thirteen years of service, the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival enters its 14th year of bringing together an international rostrum of today's electroacoustic composers to present their cutting-edge music.

Each call is very specific and you are advised to read the full submission details at:

Call for Participation ICMC 2005
Free Sound International Computer Music Conference
September 5-9, 2005. Barcelona, Spain


Music, video, and installations -- February 5, 2021
Papers, posters, and demonstrations -- March 5, 2021
Panels, workshops and special events -- April 5th, 2005
Exhibitors -- June 5th, 2005


The Phonos Foundation, the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, and the Higher School of Music of Catalonia in conjunction with the International Computer Music Association, is proud to announce ICMC 2005. The conference will take place in Barcelona, Spain, from the 5th to 9th of September 2005, with pre-conference workshops on September 1st and 2nd.

ICMC is the pre-eminent annual gathering of computer music practitioners from around the world. Its unique interleaving of professional paper presentations and concerts of new computer music compositions creates a vital synthesis of science, technology, and the art of music.

By choosing 'free sound' as this year's leitmotif, we aim to emphasise the idea of freeing sound from its current aesthetic, technical and legal confines. We wish to promote an open discussion on the extent to which sound is considered a community asset - an asset that belongs to society and cannot be privatised. Thus, we encourage contributions that emphasise these and related topics.

We invite original contributions in all areas of the computer music field in a number of formats. However, we are also open to any proposal, and encourage all submissions, including those that do not fit the categories below.

We issue the following calls:

* Call for music, video, and installations (deadline February 5, 2021)

We invite submissions of electroacoustic music, video, and installation works that reflect the diversity of the field. Opportunities exist to combine digital resources with a variety of instrumental ensembles. For further details visit

* Call for papers, posters, and demonstrations (deadline March 5, 2021)

We invite submissions for papers, posters, and demonstrations examining the aesthetic, compositional, educational, musicological, scientific, or technological aspects of computer music and digital audio. For further information visit

* Call for panels, workshops and special events (deadline April 5th, 2005)

We invite proposals for panel sessions, workshops and special events, especially those with relevance to the conference theme of 'free sound'.

* Call for exhibitors (deadline June 5th, 2005)

The conference will provide a forum for the world's leading music technology companies to showcase their latest product information and for schools and institutions to highlight their educational programs. We invite submissions from interested parties.

To promote the idea of 'free sound', the organisers of ICMC 2005 are setting up the Free Sound Project, a website dedicated to the sharing and usage of copyleft [1] sounds. Thus, we are making a special call for copyleft sounds with no specific deadline. For more information, visit in the near future.

For detailed information on the conference, and submission formats, visit

To keep up to date with all of the latest news and information about ICMC 2005 please subscribe to our mailing list by visiting...

Call for PAPERS
The Leonardo Electronic Almanac

The Leonardo Electronic Almanac is inviting papers and artworks that showcase Multimedia Performances. This category includes works which span a range of practices, which challenge the way performance has heretofore been defined and examines the ways in which new technologies have opened up the meaning and practice of performance. We expect that performance includes a live component, be it on line, in an interactive installation, or on stage.

LEA encourages international artists / academics / researchers / students to submit their proposals for consideration. We particularly encourage young authors and contributors from outside North America and Europe to send proposals for articles/gallery/artists statements (if applicable).

Expressions of interest and outline should include:
- A brief description of proposed text (100 – 300 words)
- A brief author biography
- Any related URLs
- Contact details

In the subject heading of the email message, please use “Name of Artist/Project Title: LEA MultiMedia Performance – Date Submitted”. Please cut and paste all text into body of email (without attachments).

Deadline for expressions of interest: 10 December 2020

Deadline for proposals: 15 February 2021

Call for participation RAM7
Models of Collaboration. Deadline 15  January

Hosted by Minsk Centre for Innovative Practice in collaboration with CRAC and RAM-Network

RAM7 - Models of Collaboration will take place in Minsk 5-9 March 2005. RAM7 will play the role of temporary multi-disciplinary platform where local and global, hidden and evident, main stream and marginal aspects of New Media culture will meet. The aim of this workshop is to stimulate the process of active learning, exchange of ideas, information and energy between «hidden place» and Network Universe. The starting points are: to provide an opportunity for independent researchers and practitioners to explore current local problems, and initiatives;  to learn the international experience for modifying existing situation by analysing different models of multidisciplinary collaboration. The workshop will focus on studying examples of collaboration models, and will pay more intensive attention on topics related to network based/self-organized educational attempts and art & science collaboration.

During RAM7 workshop we plan to test and use mobile phone technologies, internet-works and more. Presentations and theory lectures will be open for public. A program of tutorials will cover topics: working group for Anti-University development (self-organized educational attempts); working group for investigation of art & science collaboration; working group, focusing on experiments in collective authorship.

We need your help and participation. We are looking for internationally recognized experienced experts willing to share experiences in the next themes:

* Anti-Universities. Self-organized Educational Attempts
* Art and Science. Organizations, projects, strategies.
* Open source, Social Networking Software
* Theory of collaboration
* Collective authorship- interactive art forms that focus on
relationships between participants.

The participants will have to pay their own travel and accommodation.

Please email to

I - Meshuggah

Fractured Transmitter Records -

Rotating Insanity: The Music & Science of Meshuggah

I wouldn’t be the first to observe that extreme metal – the heavier end of the hard rock and metal spectrum – is in many ways the antithesis of the dominant rock genre. Where rock has a reputation for being decadent and artless, the best of extreme metal is rated by the listener in terms of its precision, innovation and lack of compromise. In England, we have a rich clandestine history of extreme metal: most notably the Grindcore genre. Hailed as ‘the end of music’, Grindcore was spearheaded by bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass and took most of its cues from the punk rock movement - not the stadium metal darlings of the day. In the 80s, it was frequently played and enthusiastically advocated on the late and well-respected John Peel’s radio shows.

Whether it’s Death Metal, Black Metal or Grindcore, extreme metal is characterised by its fractured vocals, thick guitars and dissonance. To the casual listener the sound is impenetrable, but much of the joy of listening to extreme metal is in the decoding of its (at first) alienating totality.

One element of the extreme metal genre, the frequent deployment of tempo and time signature changes, is arguably the most stimulating. In fact, never has there been a musical form so dependent on the power of its percussion and yet so characterised by the discontinuity of its rhythm. It is in consideration of this inherent contradiction that we may regard the genre as a deceptively subtle art form.

However, only the deftest of groups are able to cut and paste these different timings without losing a sense of overall coherence. For the rest, embarrassing tear marks hamper their music and their technical enthusiasm cannot redeem the tedious stop / start effect of a learner driver.

Umea / Sweden’s pre-eminent Meshuggah offer a radical solution. Perversely, their new approach echoes the early 70s ‘harmolodic’ experimentation of jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Coleman employed mathematics to form complex relationships between simultaneous and repeated patterns of different duration. Similarly, Meshuggah use ‘rotating time signatures’ where a standard 4/4 drum time is offset against riffs of, say, 7 or 9 beats. Over a course of a number of bars the counterpoint is subject to continuous permutation. Add to this the octopus / pneumatic drill drum complexities of Thomas Haake and you have a formula for perhaps the most perplexing guitar music since King Crimson.

Jazz influences are evident as early as their 1995 Destroy Erase Improve release, especially in the virtuosically scatological lead parts. Certainly one of the most brutal albums of its time, Haake was referring to its flamboyant musicianship when he described the album in one interview as ‘beautiful and gay’ and it was not until the proceeding Chaosphere (1998) and Nothing (2002) albums that their scientific approach to polyrhythms was used to its most devastatingly unadorned effect.

In listening to Nothing especially, the listener is immediately disorientated by the mockingly shape-shifting riffage: An experience that aptly captures the overriding lyrical theme of mechanistic domination. The listener’s only respite is during sections where the staccato rhythm becomes backlit by sparse and reverberated higher register picking. This device lends a certain coherence to the cacophony of the foreground and yet is all the more diabolical for lulling your brain into only a temporary state of apprehension.

That it is virtually impossible to count out any passage of any given track enables their music to be continually surprising, even after a number of repeated listens. On their 2004 single-twenty-minute-track EP ‘I’  they are conscious in the manipulation of the listener’s senses in respect to the above: They introduce the piece with 2 minutes of directionless rumbling toms and murky, under-produced power-chords before (quite without warning) switching in favour of a face-burning barrage of screaming nihilism. Even after a number of rehearsed listens it is difficult to predict just when this unpleasant changeover is about to occur.

With extraordinary ease Meshuggah are able to retain a brutality of conviction without succumbing to the monotone bluster of many of their contemporaries. This has earned them high kudos across the rock community, including praise from perhaps the most critically acclaimed of all modern rock bands, Tool. And rightly so. In truth, Meshuggah are to rock music what contrapposto was to classical sculpture: no less than a revolution in its construction and dynamism.

Traditionally, extreme metal is rated by weighing its complexity against its sheer sonic scariness. With Meshuggah, the mind-warping complexity of the listener’s experience is the scariest aspect of their sound. 

Written by Heydon Pickering

Heydon Pickering is a designer, artist, composer and writer.

Vokál - Jorg Piringer
Transacoustic Research

Piringer announces in his CD sleeve that “No synthesizers or other instruments used.  Everything’s done with fucked up recordings of human voices.  All samples stolen from radio and TV” and it seems to define what this album is about – trying to make human voice sound like electronic synthesisers through a process of heavy production.  It seems to me to be a largely pointless exercise considering that no one really has a problem making synths sound like synths.  It’s akin to people measuring artistic merit on account of how laborious the process was – often ignoring the fact that it isn’t very good.

Piringer describes Vokál as ‘sixty minutes of pure language that doesn't sound like language’.  I’m uncertain whether the piece actually calls into question language in any meaningful way – rather it is an experiment in language deconstruction that often falls slightly wide of the mark.  There are some excellent tracks, ‘Leša Wiçtgî’ and ‘Rriotr It’ in particular displaying a more mischievous edge.  Other strong tracks include ‘pixo’ and ‘Hmpü’. It is the more minimalist tracks where the album stumbles.  They often lack the necessary subtlety, leaving you cold and frustrated.  This is illustrated by the opening track which promises much but fails to bide its time sufficiently, leading you to feel under-whelmed.

Overall, Vokál certainly isn’t a bad album.  It just isn’t all it could be and doesn’t deliver what I would hope for.  It is beautiful and interesting in places and slightly tired in others.  It doesn’t cover any new ground and you won’t be lying on your back in awe. It’s what you could justifiably call OK.

Reviewed by David Rogerson