News from the Sonic Arts Network

07 July 2020

Sonic Postcards

A Sonic Arts Network National Education Programme using our Environment as a Springboard for Creative Arts And ICT Activities

Sonic Postcards is a unique and innovative project from Sonic Arts Network that enables students from across the UK to explore and compare their local sound environments through the exchange of sound postcards with other schools via the internet. These postcards are audio documents (mp3 files in this case), which are created by the young people in artist led workshops from recordings of their local sound environments.

The project focuses on the impact of sound on our lives and on our cultural identities. With this in mind the participants begin by creating written journals of what they hear around them - on their way to school, in their home, out shopping or at sporting events. These journals alongside maps and other materials are used to strengthen awareness about the central role that sound plays in the everyday lives of us all. A class discussion of these journals and the particular characteristics of local ‘soundmarks’ (as comparable to landmarks) will lead to the selection of a location to be visited for recordings to be made. This could be anywhere that gives a flavour of the local soundscape: a local market, high street, historical landmark, green space or even the school playground. Once the recordings have been captured, the project then explores the possibilities for creativity through the manipulation of these sounds with digital technology. Participants work in small groups on computers to edit and mix the sounds that they have collected to create a class postcard that other schools, groups or individuals will be able to access through the Internet.

Through the exchange of sonic postcards between schools from different regions and even countries the project seeks to enable young people to compare and contrast their lives with those of other people around the country and the world. As with an ordinary postcard, our sonic postcard offers people the opportunity to exchange information and promote a place or space in a concise moment. It can provide a window into a variety of places, lives and cultures from urban to rural and aims to encourage reflection on the diverse nature of UK communities as experienced by young people, like a message in a bottle cast into the ocean to be discovered by communities divided by geography, culture and even time. These postcards will ultimately build to a fascinating aural archive, which will document the early 21st century British soundscape through the ears of its young people and be held online at the Sonic Postcards website ( This portal will contain the growing number of sound files themselves, as well as a wealth of other resources including newly commissioned teaching materials that support the project and a set of specially designed sound toys to encourage learning through creative play. The site will also feature articles providing a background to current research into soundscape studies, noise strategies and the human impact on the sonic environment. This feature makes explicit the project’s aim of raising awareness to the ecology of our sound world and the necessity of its preservation and consideration in issues such as urban planning, social development and natural habitat preservation.

The Sonic Postcards project is aimed at young people in Primary, Secondary and Special Schools aged between 9 and 14 years from a number of regions around the UK including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will involve clusters of four schools (30 students from each school) from contrasting regions each term. Over the course of three years we hope that approximately 3000 students, approximately 100 schools and 350 teachers will take part in the project, which is completely free to participating schools as a result of funding from NESTA and Arts Council England. The project aims to reach across the school curriculum and incorporate a range of studies at Key Stages 2 and 3 including Music, Geography and ICT, as well as English, Citizenship and Art while delivering key government initiatives for e-learning and for the environment.

Sonic Postcards are currently being created in Lincolnshire, London, Norfolk and Suffolk and Berkshire and in September we will be posting sounds from the Islands of Harris and Lewis in the Scottish Highlands to the city centres of Birmingham and Belfast.

For more detailed information about curriculum links, the project in general or to express an interest in participation please contact:

To find out more about Sonic Postcards please visit:

In March 2004 SAN received a £166,190 Learning award from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) to fund the first year of Sonic Postcards. NESTA is an organisation that nurtures UK creativity and innovation.

Diffusion on Holiday
Diffusion is on holiday for the next issue so service will resume on 4 August. Please use SANList over this period to share with the network your gigs, events, listings, calls, opportunities etc.

If you are not on SANList you need to subscribe. Send a message to consisting of the single line command: subscribe SONICARTSNET Your Name, e.g. subscribe SONICARTSNET John Smith. Note that 'Your Name' means your real name and not your e-mail address. Do not include a subject and remove any signatures.

Happy holidays – Darryl.


Ongoing - 31 July
Landscapes and Keepsakes: Sonic Forms by David Carter and Joe Watson
(Sound Installation)

The Crypt Gallery, Seaford, East Sussex
A digital work which responds both to local land and seascapes and to the work of Henry Moore.

Inspired by the parallels and interesting divergences they discovered between their own artistic processes and Moore’s techniques (in particular, Moore’s use of progressive scale and superimposition of forms), Carter and Watson collected and manipulated sounds from Seaford’s local acoustic environment.

Friday 9 July
Benefit for Artist Steve Kurtz
Toynbee Studios, London

Speeches and messages from celebrities, including Steve Kurtz himself by video, dj mixes by Kodwo Eshun and music by Si-Cut.db among others including surprise guests.

The background: Art is still not terrorism, nor is it mail fraud or whatever other ridiculous charge the US government has cooked up to save face. Following the latest news on the indictment of Steve Kurtz from Critical Art Ensemble (see, although the original bioterrorism charges are now completely off the table, the trial still promises to be financially and psychologically draining for the defendant.

Barry Schwabsky, Warren Neidich and Anjalika Sagar, with the Arts Catalyst and ArtsAdmin invite you to join us in an unmissable gathering of artists, academics and concerned individuals to help raise the legal costs of his defence.

Saturday 10 July
Slow Sound System - Lie Down And Be Counted
The Foundry, London

Soundscaping, bass, beats, noise and electro as they move through the evening. Ssetrieb/O.S.T. and Luc Doebereiner will be over from Berlin to play alongside resident djs iMax and Albert and Chris Douglas.

14 - 20 July
'Mealy Mouthed' by Dreams Of Tall Buildings and AAS
UCE, Margaret Street, Birmingham

DOTB and AAS art collective will perform "Mealy Mouthed", a week long performance.

Thursday 15 July
The Spitz, London

As a prelude to the 2nd edition of the London Placard, a 'Nuit Française' of musique électronique et expérimentale from guitar-based processes to lo-fi electronica passing through abstract experimental melodies and sound treatments with: dDamage, Discom, Heller, Sebastien Roux, Pez Orchestra.

Friday 16 July
Trinity Buoy Wharf, London

'Underkurrent' will feature original instruments by Bernard & Francois Baschet (the pioneers of sound scupture) performed by Trevor Taylor (who produced the book 'Les Scuptures Sonores'). He will also perform Walter Fabeck's new site-specific composition, "360", especially conceived for Trinity Buoy Wharf. Kreepa - an electric improvising ensemble will showcase their baffling array of self-invented instruments, such as the Tromboscillator (Hilary Jeffery), the Eraser Recorder (Cesar Villavicencio) and the Kreepback Instrument (John Richards). Kreepa will be joined by very special guest saxoponist Paul Dunmall.

The lighthouse is home to Jem Finer's "Longplayer" and will be open to the public as part of the event. The event will also feature a rare DJ set from Nicholas James Bullen founder of the seminal Napalm Death and Scorn.

Saturday 17 July
Placard London Headphones Festival
(One Day Frestival)
State51 Factory, London

14 hours of headphone-only performances from the cream of underground electronica and beyond. Lining up in the state51 warheouse are 2004 Ars Electronica winners Janek Schaefer and Leafcutter John, alongside Main, David Toop & Max Eastley, Hot Chip, Antenna Farm, John Chantler, Adem Ilhan/8 Hours, Paul Hood, SSetrieb/O.S.T., The Sound Of Squaljax & Farbulous, Jonathan Coleclough, sAnso-xtro, Heller, Dallas Simpson, Nada, Nebogeo, Table, Claire Hope, 87 Central, Fisk Industries, Dual, A.M.P. Studio, Duncan Whitley, Smack Miranda, Karina ESP, Ed Bennett vs Cormac Heron, Yellow6, Recon vs Thorsten Sideb0ard, Emanuela De Angelis and Akira The Don.

Sunday 18 July
The Strong Rooms, London

Free entry. Line up includes Greypetcat, Romvelope, Ommm, dDamage and Moon Palace djs.

Monday 19 July
Wired Women
The Spitz, London

Kevin Blechdom performances include a variety of original pop songs, computer music, banjo playing, and a cover of Tina Turner's 'Private Dancer' while doing an awkward chair dance. Piney Gir fuses organic instruments with hearty sounds of analogue synth. FS_ion offers narrated animations, video, performance and music. She uses 'Cresto' a unique language within composition, improvisation and performance. Anat Ben-David is a pop video performance artist.

22 - 24 July
Supersonic Festival
custard Factory, Birmingham
(3 Day Festival)

3 stages with live sonic/visual performances. Pete Batchelor’s ‘Studies on Canvas’ which was commissioned by SAN and the PRSF for SoundCircus will be exhibited over all three days of the festival.

Sunday 25 July
OMSK - Not-Building Roam in a Day
Geffrye Street, London

OMSK paves the way for a six hour collaborative event featuring the OMSK Collective, plus a programme of London Artists. ROAM involves the participation of local residents - telling stories, compiling car stereo concerts, walking cinematically, skipping durationally.


NWEAMO 2004: Invented Instruments
1 - 2 October, Portland, Oregon, and 8 – 9 San Diego, California USA
Submission Deadline: 15 July 2020

The New West Electro-Acoustic Music Organization (NWEAMO) is seeking electro-acoustic works for its sixth annual international festival of electronic music. Works may be representative of all styles and aesthetics, from the classical avant-garde to the fringes of experimental pop.

This year we are featuring Invented Instruments. These can be hardware or software, physical, mental, construed contraptions, amplified things, bent electronics, whatever. The emphasis is that the composer is constructing the means for generating the sounds & sights.

For further information:

The Reverend Lester Knox of Tifton, Georgia -
Put Your Face in Gwod: The 366th Revival

The Smack Shire

Irwin Chusid suggests in his introduction to Songs in the Key of Z that there are three main, and at times interrelated, contributory factors to the creation of true outsider audio documents: innate mental abnormality, drug fry, or an unhealthy dose of religious lunacy. This terrifying, hilarious and poignantly raw document leaves no doubt that the Reverend Lester Knox and his followers were both “differently sane”, to use Chusid’s choice phrase, and drinking deeply from the poisoned challis of ‘ole time religion.

Barely educated, Knox was long considered an embarrassment by the religious establishment of South Georgia. Both he and his flock of backwoods’ amateurs were openly mocked and derided throughout the term of his radio ministry. Even after 50 years of broadcast from the tiny hamlet of Tifton he received no obituary in the local paper.

The 28 tracks on this CD are compiled by Knox enthusiast Tom Smith from radio broadcasts made by the preacher between 1982 and 1992 on WBIT radio in Georgia. The programmes take the form of high-energy rants from brother Knox punctuated by singing from both the Reverend and his motley crew of idiot savant followers. Knox’s masterful rhetorical delivery is beautifully paced and calculated for maximum emotional impact. This man was born to indoctrinate. The voice moves from tearful, intimate and pleading to the true gravel-throated hellfire preaching that can only come from many years of ecstatic bellowing. There is a feral musicality here that recalls the timbres of Don Van Vliet when he had finally managed to break his instrument through years of similar hollering. The Reverend Jim Jones also had this quality to die for, and of course many did. This is the naked griot voice, an intensely physical meat experience and the ultimate weapon of Jonestown radio’s only DJ. It is in these tones that we can imagine Peter the Hermit preaching the first crusade one thousand years ago to the European savages. Knox interjects rhyming glossilalia into his tirades reminiscent of Hugo Ball’s dada poetry, laying bare the arcane language of power and control:


The music of Knox’s flock is a wonder to experience. Imagine if you dare, The Carter Family jamming with The Shaggs after a two-day moonshine binge. Raw and idiosyncratically pitched vocals are pitted against strangely tuned guitar accompaniments. Some of the musicians are at least able to change to the wrong chords in the wrong places but Knox, in his solo performances, makes no such compromises to public taste and intones over strummed open strings. Syd Barrett never dreamed of going this far. Songs such as Mothers Only Sleeping recall the pastoral brutality of The Sky Blue Boys’ Down by the Banks of the Ohio and evoke a rude atavism where murder, incest and the baby Jesus walk hand in hand in an age before good and evil. By all means take a closer walk with the Reverend but “please include a love offering to further his ministry”.

Review by Richard Whitelaw
Richard Whitelaw is a member of BEAST in Birmingham and is the Programme Director of Sonic Arts Network.