News from the Sonic Arts Network

Hugh Davies (1943-2005)

Hugh Davies was a composer, performer, instrument inventor and builder, documentor, teacher and writer. He died on the 1st of January 2005.

After studies at Oxford University he was Karlheinz Stockhausen's assistant in Cologne from 1964-66 and helped prepare, perform and record Mikrophonie I. He followed this with a year as visiting researcher at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris producing the landmark International Electronic Music Catalog (MIT Press 1968) which effectively lists the world production of electronic music up to that date, country by country, studio by studio. Returning to the UK in 1967 he founded the Electronic Music Studio at Goldsmiths College (University of London) which he directed until 1986. If these achievements read like a traditional academic ladder that would be misleading. Hugh was an inventor and performer of instruments. Picking up from Cage's amplification of 'small sounds' he created a menagerie of beautiful constructions which might utilise hacksaw blades, disused radio parts, natural objects perhaps performed with feathers, gentle breath gestures, knitting needles and other found objects. He was an experienced improviser. In fact virtually none of his works was notated except perhaps very loosely with a simple mnemonic action score. He would always vary the performance to suit the location and sound system. The performed instrument was the work, amplified to reveal exquisite detail. He called these his 'shozyg' works (named after a volume of an encyclopedia (SHO-ZYG) which he had hollowed out to conceal some unexpected sound source). The audience was usually 'inside' the sound in every sense as the concealed contact microphones were often projected to the four corners of the listening space. In 1968 he was a founder member of the group Gentle Fire which specialised in improvisation and live electronics and took part in Stockhausen's outdoor 'park music' Sternklang in 1971. But he increasingly worked his sonic magic in solo performance. He was a founder member of the British Society for Electronic Music in the early 1970s and a founder committee member of EMAS in 1979 serving until 1985. His work Strata was featured in the Sonic Arts Network 25th Year Retrospective Concert in the Sonorities Festival (Belfast) last April and broadcast on Radio 3.

The list of his achievements is endless and I have asked Sonic Arts Network to host a Festschrift for Hugh (for a future Diffusion) with a wider range of more considered inputs to celebrate such an enormous and enriching contribution to contemporary music.

Simon Emmerson

January 2005


6 – 27 February
Various Venues, London

IF:05 profiles the joint artistry of Colin Riley and Peter Wiegold exploring contemporary music making from their unique perspective of pioneering work in improvised/devised and electronic and jazz/popular music. The theme of IF:05 is ‘NEW BANDS’ with the programme exploring the relationship between performer and composer and the creative opportunities of improvised, devised and written music.  Included in the festival are major new works by both Colin Riley –with theatre director Toby Wilsher, Peter Wiegold - Damn Braces incorporating improvised and composed music - as well as the launch of two new ensembles: Moov and notes in_gales. Also Richard Barrett with the British premier of his new work Blattwerk,  new pieces by Martin Butler, Tansy Davies, Morgan Hayes,  Homemade Orchestra, Poing.

17 January
John Levack Drever & Lawrence Upton
Camden Peoples Theatre

John Drever will be performing a revised version of "Ochlophonics Study #2: Hong Kong", along with a new collaborative work with the writer Laurence Upton.

29 January
Black Galaxy vs Kreepa, ZX Spectrum Orchestra, Esquilax.
(live performance)
The Spitz, London

Capsule presents ‘Supersonic treats from the City of Birmingham’. With Black Galaxy – minimal galactic soundscapes featuring Nicholas Bullen (ex-Napalm Death) in collaboration with Simon Mabbutt in a versus with acousmatic improvisors kREEPA. ZX Spectrum Orchestra (feat. Brian Duffy + Mike in Mono) Brian Duffy / Modified Toy Orchestra works with electronic sound toys that have been rewired and reconfigured to create a series of musical instruments each creating their own new electronic sounds. Esquilax are a shiny party plastic new wave avant-garde pop terror group -possessed by Devo, raised by Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
0121 248 2252

24 - 26 FEBRUARY
University Drama Studio, Sheffield.

New Electroacostic music from Yorkshire (24) with the White Rose Electroacoustic Forum presenting a fusion of new music from Leeds, Sheffield and York. Friday (25) sees ‘The huge sound of Pedwar Traeth Môn Four Anglesey Beaches’ with Anrew. To end, electroacoustic guru Francis Dhomont from Montréal gives his cycle du son (26).
(0114) 2220499/0470

Tuesday 18 January
Ensemble Modern performs Steve Reich
(live performance)
barbican, London

Steve Reich’s influence on contemporary music is immeasurable. Arguably thefounding father of minimalism, Reich’s music has touched classical, jazz, pop and world musicians alike. Grammy-Award winning Ensemble Modern returns to the Barbican to perform his work, including the UK premiere of You Are (Variations).
020 7638 8891

Saturday 22 January
Kronos Quartet
(live performance)
barbican, London

Kronos present the works of five composers including a world premiere byMeredith Monk, experimental composer, vocalist, choreographer and filmmaker. Kronos also perform music from the film score to Darren Aronofsky’s film Requiem For a Dream, composed by Clint Mansell (front man of British indie rock band Pop Will Eat Itself), and works by Michael Gordon, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Willem Jeths and Alexandra du Bois.
020 7638 8891

Wednesday 2 February
Alexander Balanescu and Klaus Obermaier present Maria Tanase featuring the Balanescu Quartet and Steve Argüelles
(live performance)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Inspired by the extraordinary life and voice of Romanian icon Maria Tanase, this beautiful performance features music by Alexander Balanescu and spellbinding visuals by Klaus Obermaier. Maria Tanase is one of Romania's best kept secrets. As a glamorous young singer and actress in the cosmopolitan Bucharest of the 30s 40s and 50s she achieved near-mythical status for her warm and unaffected interpretations of traditional folk songs, their often bleak subject-matter playing a counterpoint to her own troubled life.
08703 800 400

Sunday 27 February
The Venus Blazing Tour - Deirdre Gribbin / James MacMillan / Britten Sinfonia
(live performance)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Two of the UK's most original and accessible contemporary composers come together for the first time. Magical lighting sets the scene for Gribbin's theatrical violin concerto, Venus Blazing. Appearing live on stage, Gribbin appears as an otherworldly "master of ceremonies", guiding the audience through her seductive music with stunning lighting effects and aurora colours into an astronomical fantasy world. The concert features the Britten Sinfonia, fast developing a reputation as one of the UK's leading chamber orchestras.
08703 800 400


COMA Summer School Assistant P/T (Voluntary)

Deadline: Friday 4 March 2021
1 Day per week from 1 April 2021 (variable)
Full attendance at the Summer School (23 - 31 July 2020) is required working at the COMA Central Office (London, E1)

Expenses will be provided. Free place on the COMA Summer School

COMA's (Contemporary Music Making for Amateurs) award winning Summer School offers a friendly, non-competitive approach to contemporary music. A wide range of composition, improvisation and performance opportunities cater for all abilities, from complete beginners to experienced musicians and composers.

Duties to include:
Dealing with applications and responding to enquiries.
Assisting with publicity, marketing and recruitment.
Assisting with tutor contracts and liaison.
Coordinating the music for the Summer School.
Assist in stage management at the Summer School.
Assist in production of programmes at the Summer School.
Plus other administrative tasks, as required.

Applicants must be well organised & computer literate with a good sense of humour and a keen interest and enthusiasm in music, contemporary classical music in particular.

To apply, please send a C.V. and one page covering letter outlining relevant skills and interests to Daisy Miller, COMA, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, LONDON, E1 6AB or

Invitation to Tender
OSAudio residency

[Audio artist/producer/composer in residence at Access Space, April 2005]
Deadline for applications: 4th Feb 2005
Decision made and applicants informed mid Feb 2005.
Fee: £3500 sterling (approx 5000 Euros @ 6th Jan 2005)

Access Space, Sheffield's lowtech digital arts organisation, is currently calling for applications for a month-long, audio residency.

Access Space is a free media lab in Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter, offering open access to people with a range of knowledge and experience of technology. We are looking for an artist to develop their project using the recycled/reclaimed "redundant" technology and open-source software available in Access Space.

The aims of the residency are:
1] To offer an artist/producer/composer the chance to develop ideas using only open-source software (on the Linux operating system) in a supportive environment.
2] To offer the users of Access Space an introduction to the creative process of making new work.
3] To produce a finished piece of work (see below for further details).

The Residency:
The OSAudio residency will take place in April 2005 (exact times/dates to be agreed). The successful applicant will get the opportunity to work for one month (or 20-day equivalent) in Access Space's open environment, with a degree of technical support and advice available from Access Space staff. As part of the residency, the artist will run 2 workshop sessions relating to the work involved in their residency, and an informal presentation for Access Space participants and members of the public. The resident will also document their residency in the form of an online diary.

Available software includes the Planet CCRMA software, with PD, Rosegarden, Ardour, Jack, Audacity, Supercollider Server etc etc. Applicants should consider that part of Access Space's ethos is to only use recycled/donated hardware. Therefore, the available hardware is a P3 800Mhz machine with Sound Blaster sound card. The majority of the work-time will be monitored using headphones, due to Access Space being a publicly accessible project.

The Work:
We hope to encourage a broad range of applications covering all types of audio production, be they electronica, sound art, or more traditional recording practices using open-source software. Proposals can be to produce one or more specific audio works, or for development of patches, code or software. However, the resident should aim to have a completed product within the duration of the residency. The finished work will then be available for download from the internet.

The Fee:
A fee of £3,500 will be offered to the successful applicant, subject to the successful completion of the residency. A small contribution towards travel and accommodation expenses may be available where appropriate.

How to submit your proposal:
Please email or post us a proposal, of not more than 2 sides of A4 plus your CV, including details of your experience of working with open-source music software, your reason for applying, the starting point/s for your project and how you would approach the commission.

Access Space welcomes applications from all sectors of the community irrespective of age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Please address the following points in your application:
1 - what form the finished work would take.
2 - how you propose to engage with the participants at Access Space.
3 - how much technical support would you need.
4 - how feasible is your project in the time available.
5 - what makes using open-source software particularly appropriate for your project?

For more information, questions regarding hard/software, or to mail your proposal:
Access Space
1a Sidney Street
S1 4RG

0114 2495522

Seminar: Curation
preservation and dissemination of media art

The final seminar in the hothaus series will examine the challenges of curating and presenting media art. Papers will explore conservation, the role of the museum, the shifting relationship between authorship, authenticity and interactivity and the role of technology in re-enactment projects. Confirmed speakers include Sarah Cook, Caitlin Jones, Andy Webster & Jon Bird and Martijn Stevens. The chair is Helen Cadwallader.

Located in Birmingham, the hothaus series is brought to you by Vivid and the University of Central England. The series will be published by Article Press in summer 2005.

Date: 29.01.05
Time: 10-6
Costs £30/20/10 (orgs/inds/concs)

For booking information contact Vivid on 0121 233 4061 or visit

VACANCY: Assistant Professor in Electronic Music
Department of Music. Northeastern University, Boston, MA

RESPONSIBILITIES: Teach courses from the areas of electronic music composition, sound synthesis, interactive performance, audio processing, history of electronic music and music theory. Additional course areas as required by the Music Department. Assist in the supervision of the electronic-music ensemble and student-composer initiatives.

QUALIFICATIONS: Background in electronic music composition.Familiarity with one or more of the following music systems highly desirable: Max/MSP, Symbolic Sound Kyma System, Csound, Kurzweil K2xx series. Expertise in sound design for film, video (animation) and/or theatre; new digital media technologies; and sound for the Web (Flash, et al) also desirable. Doctorate and previous teaching experience preferred.

RANK: Assistant Professor (tenure track)

SALARY: negotiable

DATE OF APPT.: September, 2005

THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT: The Music Department has fourteen full-time and a number of part-time faculty members. An undergraduate degree in music is currently offered in three concentrations: music technology (composition for electronic instruments), music industry and music history and analysis. The Music Department also collaborates with the Department of Visual Arts in the implementation and supervision of the dual major in multimedia studies. Performance opportunities, both solo and ensemble, are available to students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community.

THE UNIVERSITY: Northeastern is a large, private urban university in Boston situated close to Symphony Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts. It is an equal opportunity/affirmative action, Title IX employer.

TO APPLY: Send c.v.; names, emails and phone numbers of three references, at least one of whom is familiar with candidate's teaching; and statement of professional interests and experience. Applications must be received by regular mail by January 16, 2005:

Chair, Music Technology Search Committee
Department of Music
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue, Room 351 Ryder Hall
Boston, MA 02115

Email: (inquiries only)

The School of Sound – March 2005

The School of Sound is a four-day series of master classes - an international event dedicated to exploring the creative use of sound with the moving image, taking place at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London SE1.

The School of Sound is the only event of its kind in the world that focuses on film making from the perspective of sound. It is a unique educational event that brings together people who share a passion for sound, music and film and who want to understand more than pushing buttons or fixing up microphones.

15 Bursaries provided by Film London are available for people from black/minority ethnic backgrounds working in any post- production role and women directors.

020 7724 6616



The Sound Mirrors Project team are looking for an artist who works with sound to develop new work with pupils in a secondary school in Dover as part of an innovative arts education project funded by Creative Partnerships, Kent.

Experience of working in an educational context is essential. We are particularly keen to work with, and support Kent based practitioners. Please note: The successful applicant will be expected to undertake a successful CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check before appointment.

Fee: £1500 (approx 9 days) plus travel and materials
Timescale: January - April 2005 (specific times and days negotiable)
Deadline: Friday 14 January 2021

To apply please send a CV and supporting letter outlining relevant skills
and experience to:

Juliette Buss, Education Co-ordinator, 20 Porthall Place, Brighton, BN1 5PN

For more information, or an informal chat please call Juliette Buss on
01273 277699 or email


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.

more details here

Call for Composers

Deadline: Thursday 31 March 2021

COMA is inviting composers of any age and nationality to submit works as part of its Open Score Project.

COMA are seeking challenging, yet technically accessible, contemporary music, which is suitable for performance by amateur ensembles. Up to 20 composers will be selected to receive one-to-one tuition with Stephen Montague, and up to eight pieces will then be selected to join commissions from professional composers in the forthcoming Open Score collection. The collection will be published, released on CD and given high-profile performances by COMA ensembles.

Guidelines and the Open Score submission form are available from the COMA website Or contact the COMA office on 020 7247 7736.

Five anonymous copies of the score should be sent with a completed submission form and fee of £10 (£5 for full time students and COMA friends and members) by Thursday 31 March 2021 to:

COMA Open Score Submissions
Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
E1 6LS


For the fourth year, Gamma-UT is announcing a call for scores of student works. Following last year's highly successful concert of electro-acoustic music, we will once again have a focus on technology and mixed media. Student composers/video artists are invited to submit pieces with video and music, where music plays a major role. Electronic and acoustic music is welcome, but acoustic pieces, if they are to be played live, should be limited to 4 performers. Attendance is mandatory for those with accepted pieces (composer or video artist).

The deadline for submission is February 1, 2005. Applicants will be notified of the program committee's decision via email by February 15, 2005.

Mixed media pieces should include a hard copy of DVD (video with music) mailed to the address below.

Pieces involving acoustic instruments should include a copy of the score. Submissions may be emailed (pdf, sibelius, finale) or mailed in paper format. Recordings are greatly appreciated (mp3, CD, cassette, DAT).

Please include your name, email address, mailing address, institutional affiliation, and proof of student status (copy of student ID or transcript).

Hard copies should be mailed to:
The University of Texas
Samuel Pluta
GAMMA-UT Composition Chair
School of Music
1 University Station E3100
Austin, TX 78712-0435

The concert will be held on April 9, 2005, following the GAMMA-UT Conference, at the University of Texas at Austin. Submissions will not be returned. For more information, contact: Samuel Pluta - or Robert Honstein -

Call for Scores

Kansas City Kansas Community College, Lewis University and the Conservatory of Music-University of Missouri at Kansas City are pleased to announce a call for scores for the Electronic Music Midwest Festival, to be held October 20-22, 2005 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Each concert will feature an 8.1 speaker diffusion system. Any composer regardless of region, age or nationality may submit up to two works for consideration in
the following categories:

1) Two channel works for tape alone
2) Up to Eight channel works for tape alone
3) Instrument(s) and tape or electronics
4) Works for video
5) Sound Installations and Interactive Media (composer must provide all non-standard equipment)
6) Live Laptop works
7) Live Interactive works

In addition, submissions for research and technical papers, panel discussions, and technical demonstrations are also requested. Student submissions are strongly encouraged.

Deadline: May 1, 2005, postmark deadline (scores must arrive by May 15, 2021)

Entry Fee: none

Submission Guidelines:
1) Accepted formats for consideration are DTS CD, DAT, ADAT, CD, DVD, DVD-Audio, VHS, or S-VHS.
2) Submit a completed Application form available at

Note, "works in progress" will be considered if a substantial portion of the work is submitted. For paper proposals, please submit an abstract of topic and technical requirements. Composers and authors whose works are selected for this festival are required to submit a $25 registration fee upon selection and attend the conference. Regrettably, we are not able to offer travel stipends or honorariums to festival participants at this time.

Submitted works can only be returned if an SASE in enclosed, else they will be archived for future considerations. EMM is not able to consider works that do not conform to the guidelines outlined above.

Send Submission Materials to:
Connie Mayfield
KCKCC Music Department
7250 State Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66112

Full submission details and contact are available

Call for articles and works
Organised Sound: An International Journal of Music and Technology

Volume 11, Number 1
Issue thematic title: Sound, History and Memory
Date of Publication: April 2006
Publishers: Cambridge University Press

Issue Co-ordinators: Cathy Lane and Nye Parry.

Theme: Sound, History and Memory

As human beings we are defined by our memories. Our sense of ourselves, and our perception of the world around us rely on our ability to recall past experiences. Recording technology has opened up the world of memory to the sound artist/composer in many new and unique ways. The ability to reproduce sounds that have already occurred is central to the artistic use of recorded sound. It allows composers to use real world sounds motivically. It allows phonographers to capture and replay unique moments in time. It allows documentary makers to record first hand testimonies of past events and real lives. Perhaps most importantly it allows these fields to merge and intermingle, creating new hybrid forms that utilise location recordings, oral testimony and abstract sound and music.
For the proposed issue of Organised Sound we would be interested in inviting papers on the wide variety of practices in our field which involve the conscious use of memory.

Themes will include:
1. History and Memory as subject matter and inspiration for sound works
2. Oral History and archive as material in sound works.
3. Memory as a structural metaphor in sonic composition

We invite submissions from composers, performers, artists and researchers working within the field of sound, history and memory. Submissions related to the theme are encouraged; however, those that fall outside the scope of this theme are always welcome.

Deadline for submissions is 30 June 2005. Submissions may consist of papers, with optional supporting short compositions or excerpts, audio-visual documentation of performances and/or other aspects related to your submission. Supporting audio and audio-visual material will be presented as part of the journal's annual DVD-ROM which will appear with issue 11/3.

further details can be obtained from the inside back cover of published issues of Organised Sound or from:

Email submissions should be sent to (please see SUBMISSION FORMAT above):

Hard copy of articles (only when requested) and other material (e.g., images, sound and audio-visual files, etc.) should be submitted to:

Prof. Leigh Landy
Organised Sound
Music, Technology and Innovation Research Group
Clephan Building
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH, UK.


Call for Mobile Audio (ringtone) Enthusiasts and Sound Artists

New Arts project for creating, converting and sharing original mobile audio....

Freeloader is a DIY ringtone creation and distribution environment. It is a commission by UK based FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and created by Kisky Netmedia. It allows users to input MP3, MIDI and WAV files and turn them into original ringtone content.

The web application converts audio into ringtones suitable for over 350 phones allowing for playback of experimental work for a wide user group. The project is set to develop its content in 2005 through pupils
projects, artist lead workshops, and through input from remote users - anyone who wishes to experiment with their own mobile content.

If you are a sound artist, musician, composer, or mobile tone enthusiast, or just want a new original ringtone you may like to have a go at making your own tones using Freeloader. All submitted content should be original and copyright free and will be shared with the Freeloader community growing this resource of user-generated content.

Freeloader was developed as part of FACT's Stream and Shout Project.

For more information visit:
For more information on Kisky Netmedia, visit:


SYMPOSIUM " Play!: Contemporary Composition, Technology and Listening" As part of Extensible Toy Piano Project -

It has been almost 50 years since John Cage defined experimental music in terms of the contemplation of sound and the use of technology. All sound--and even silence-- could and should be the stuff of music for everyone, listeners and composers alike. The tape recorder was a means of not only storing sounds, but of engaging them in new and direct ways. Meanwhile, at almost the same moment, Milton Babbitt delimited composition as serious and rational, the composer as a specialist, and technology as the handmaiden to determinacy.

Matt Malsky and David Claman, the directors of the Extensible Toy Piano Project, invite paper proposals for a symposium as part of the project's Festival on November 5-6, 2005 (for more information, see Presentations will be 30 minutes long. Possible topics on the themes of the festival might include (but are not limited to):

- musical (post)modernism: aesthetic contemplation vs. intellectual endeavour
- overwhelming noise & disturbed silence: entertainment & the relationship of electroacoustic music to mass culture
- music and technoculture: musical creativity and technological possibility
- fun and form: toys as expressive objects and their listening subjects
- multimedia and new music: the intersection of new musical instruments
in diverse media
- the political economy of contemporary composition: the composer and our
division of musical labor
- the (impossible) concert: music in everyday/public life
- the live and the canned: performance and listening in the age of the studio
- post-literacy in music: aurality vs. orality

Proposals should be no more than 500 words and include audio-visual requirements. Please submit your proposal by July 15, 2020 via email to or by surface post to:

The Extensible Toy Piano Project
Clark University
Department of Visual and Performing Arts
950 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01610

Call for Participation

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 the 4th.

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 about the extent to which sound is considered a community asset -- an asset thatbelongs 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 5th, 2005) * Call for papers and posters (deadline March 5th, 2005)
* Call for demonstrations (deadline March 5th, 2005)
* Call for inspirational ideas (deadline May 23rd, 2005)
* Call for workshops (deadline April 5th, 2005)
* Call for off-ICMC (deadline April 5th, 2005)
* Call for exhibitors (deadline June 5th, 2005)
* Call for panels (deadline April 5th, 2005)

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 sounds. Thus, we are making a special call for copyleft sounds with no specific deadline. For more information, visit this website again in the near future.

To keep up to date with all of the latest news and information about ICMC 2005 please subscribe to our mailing list. Detailed information on the conference and submission formats can be found on this site.

Broken Penis Orchestra – Plays With Itself

The first thing that strikes you about this Hypnagogia release by the Broken Penis Orchestra is the fluorescent pink, shell shaped CD case, minimally adorned with small stickers front and back. Accompanying the essential title info frontside is a small graphic one might easily overlook as a pretty, pink, flower-like form which also subtly permeates the fluro glow however on opening the case one unsheathes the flesh-toned rosette of erect phalluses in all their radiating glory. With no other details than the track listings on the rear I am left wondering, somewhat apprehensively, whether such literal sexual imagery will continue as the orchestra proceeds to play with itself.

Fortunately it does not though the metaphor persists. As broken pt1 unleashes an extended barrage of cut up samples awash with over familiar FX one can’t help feeling that this excessive knob twiddling is a supplement for a sustainable dialogue. Cars crash into saxophones, mutated voices churn into clunky loops, and bells and whistles battle with media chunks, synth pitch stabs and spluttering noise. The cartoon style angularity of its construction is not without humour and flare but this wears thin as skilful transitions and collisions are not sustained. After 8 minutes or so this perpetual plundering takes an uncomfortable slide into satire as evangelical Christians are subjected to clichéd contortions before we bounce our way towards some cymbal splattered gamelan-like resonances and a clattering end. After 18 odd minutes a break in the form of track two is a brief distraction before the malfunctioning media muncher returns and broken pt2 resumes its rapid-fire emissions of digital detritus. Around 4.40 mins however things get strangely stuck on some heavily distorted piano samples which meander around glissfully for a minute and a half before a pulse driven percussive loop plays monotonously with low pass interjections, reverb resonance and peculiar space shifting for the final 5 mins drawing this 11 min section to a perplexing and somewhat inconclusive end.

half a glass of nothing, the 3.44 min interjection to broken, is all the better for its brevity and reduced palate. Here, at a somewhat reduced pace, an improv like assemblage, with occasional lapses into loops, of predominantly instrumental material (piano stabs, violin motifs and glissandi, percussion and brass blasts) sit more comfortably alongside snippets of voice/text, squeaking doors and processed material. The processing is altogether much more subtle with the exception of the heavily delayed and reversed brushed percussion rhythms which tie the piece together.

The concluding track floating in a sea of bliss picks up on the noisier material from broken though here it is explored in a much more sustained manner. A mass system overload leaves a dense aftermath of white noise, manic bleeps, industrial crunches, piercing pitches, and digital discharge made all the more ominous by the occasional emergence of muffled voices, lost transmissions from the residue perhaps. At 7.46 min the structure sits more comfortably while the ideas have more space to evolve than in its lengthy counterpart.

Reviewed by Iain Armstrong
Iain is a composer and teacher based in Birmingham.

Hans Krüsi's CD and book:
'Even a nobody can be somebody'

Hans Krüsi, an impoverished flower vendor, proved this by becoming a legendary artist in Switzerland. The Swiss Kunstmuseum of Thurgau has published a CD and book about Krüsi's expressive art and his unusual rise to fame. "Krüsi's Konzert" is a quirky collection of previously unknown audio tapes, and offers a rare glimpse into the mind of this curious man.

Krüsi was born as an illegitimate child in 1920, given up for adoption and subsequently sent to an orphanage. His poor schooling and fragile health prevented him from training as a gardener, so he set out collecting flowers and selling them on the streets of St. Gallen.

In his spare-time, Krüsi embarked on many trips with a battered old moped, a camera and a small tent, hunting for sounds and images in the Swiss mountains. In the early 70s, Krüsi started to sell painted cards and decorated photographs. When his expressive art became more popular than his violets and daisies, the art world stood up and took notice.

Krüsi ‘s gaunt portrait was soon all over the Swiss media, following the success of an exhibition of his paintings in 1980 at the local Gallery Buchmann. Whilst a local TV channel hailed him "the greatest naive painter of the century", others attributed his work to 'Art brut', an artistic movement born out of "feverish moments".

Mad or genius?
Krüsi later received 10,000 Swiss Franks from a gallery sale, which allowed him to fully concentrate on his art, and finally people began to take him seriously. He died as a wealthy man after many years of poor health in 1997.

Most of Krüsi's work was entrusted to the Thurgau Kunstmuseum, including hundreds of previously unknown audio tapes. They were mixed by Ernst Thoma, a respected Swiss sound artist. As with gathering everyday objects, Krüsi was equally obsessed with collecting and reinterpreting sound such as chirping birds, pigeons, Alpine cowbells, yodelling, conversations in pubs and fun-fare music. Add to that Krüsi's own croaky, toothless commentary, in sing-song Swiss German, and you have the artist's trademark sound.

Krüsi created his own private radio show, complete with travel news: "Vorsicht!" (Beware!). He warns his imaginary listeners. "Person driving down the wrong side of the road at 150 km/h, slightly drunk, female red head".

In another piece Krüsi reinterprets the Swiss obsession with "Hüsli baue, hüsli mache", ("My home is my castle"). He constantly worried about being thrown out of his flat. Too poor to feed himself properly, he kept his beloved pigeons at home - much to the dismay of his neighbours.

Krüsi also feared that people might take advantage of him. In a discussion with a client about payment for his pictures, Krüsi aptly interrupts the conversation with the sound of a toilet flushing.

If Krüsi seems a little oddball at times, at least we have Ernst Thoma to thank for bringing the artist's universe somewhat closer. Even for non-native speakers, 'Krüsi's Konzert' is a fascinating experience. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, poetic and beautiful and, no doubt, unlike anything I've listened to before.

Reviewed by Anna van Ommen

Anna is a copywriter and translator. She lives in London.


Consumers now find nothing expensive. Nevertheless, they suspect that the less anything costs, the less it is being given them... When thrown in free, the now debased works of art... are secretly rejected by the fortunate recipients, who are supposed to be satisfied by the mere fact that there is so much to be seen and heard. Everything can be obtained.
- Theodore Adorno The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception

On first listening, this recording might fool you into thinking that the release is merely a very clever, conceptual dig at the present day circumstances of the music industry.

Reading somewhat like a manifesto, the press-release hails "the collapse of music as we know it," and describes Ubiquitous Eternal Live as an audio illustration of this collapse. The press release suggests that our relationship with music has been changed "beyond redemption" through music's widely spreading availability and points out bitterly (and truthfully) that we "can [now] download music much faster than we can listen to it." Ash International and Cronica are not the first people to speculate that ease of availability devalues culture; The press release openly cites Theador Adorno as a conceptual cornerstone to the ideas behind developing Ubiquitous Eternal Live, along with Guy Debord and other "conceptual cards."

Autodigest's first release, AUTODIGEST - A COMPRESSED HISTORY OF EVERYTHING EVER RECORDED, VOL. 1:, "proposed an aural illustration of current syndromes in digital compression which abandon fidelity, subtlety, and complexity in favour of speed, efficiency, and endless storage capabilities," and so was exploring some of the sonic deficiencies of highly compressed music - the inevitable consequence of everything being encoded in MP3 format, so that we can have "the ability to stuff 20,000 (or whatever) songs" in our front pockets.VOL. 2 has evolved directly out of this first work, but the concepts have arguably become more complex in Ubiquitous Eternal Live. On first listening, it's not easy to see how hearing over an hour of progressively more hysterical audience clapping and applause is a cultural investigation of our contemporary relationship to music; even less easy to see how this work interrogates how we value music in the new contexts provided by completely altered distribution systems. That is, it's not easy to see this until you realise that you can't use the recording as " an endless private soundtrack for one's earphones," the way most music is now experienced.

As you listen to Ubiquitous Eternal Live, you realise it can't be comfortably thrown on in the background while you do the dishes; it can't be slung into the player while you drive somewhere; and it probably doesn't work well in a discman either. The only way to listen to this recording, is to sit down, remove all other distractions, and envelop yourself in what is a very masterfully collaged and seamless piece of audio work. The crescendo builds increment by increment; what starts as the tense apprehension at the start of a concert, becomes the screaming, mass-hysteria of some kind of apocalyptic terror. The human voice is captured in some of its most raw and cathartic moments here, as fans scream and holler for a conspicuously absent "main act." Then you realise, this is the main act. Perhaps it's greatest achievement as a political statement on "the state of music at the beginning of the 21st century," is to simply resist distribution along all the regular channels. This recording will not be put on in the background in bars for people to quietly enjoy while they discuss the results of the league football match. Banks won't buy it to play in their branches while customers fill out their direct debits. It has, through the very nature of its own sonic language, defied the possibility of being quiet, easily disseminated audio wallpaper. It is, however, of and in itself, a very intense and enlightening listening experience.

Reading through various theorists and pages on this work, which is a joint release between Ash International (UK) and Cronica Electronica, (Portugal) one thing puzzled me: why the image of the deserted bed on the front cover of the CD? And then I remembered Guy Debord, paragraph 21, Separation Perfected, The Society of the Spectacle:

The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.

The back cover of the CD refers to The Society of the Spectacle, and asserts that "it is the process of consumption, not its object, that we are currently enjoying." Perhaps to interrogate this idea, to explore what eternal consumption, spectacle and expectation might sound like, is to refute the desire to "sleep." This work is a refusal to make something that can go on the intercom of any company in between the reglar announcements of "we appreciate your call," and so on. This music will not be played in hotel lobbies or lifts, barely there, seemingly invisible, maintaining comfortable yet false atmospheres. This work is very much awake, saying "Hey! Sit up and listen to me!" Regrettably though, this might only be noticed by the people who already know and enjoy the theories whose ideas comprise its conceptual bedrock.

Reviewed by Felicity Ford

Felicity Ford is a sound-artist and writer. Her most beloved possession is her shiny, red accordion, but her advancement on this instrument is hampered by a frequent desire to play with the internet instead of practising arpeggios.