from the Sonic Arts Network
|Sonic Postcards: An Overview|
By Jana Phillips, Sonic Postcards Project Manager (This article orginally appeared in Issue 109 of Arts Professional, 7 November 2020)
An innovative project taking place in schools across the UK and run by Sonic Arts Network is promoting ‘the art of listening’ and providing students and their teachers with creative ways of integrating IT into arts subjects.
Through the Sonic Postcards project, young people are being encouraged to engage with their surroundings by listening carefully to the sounds that make their environment sonically unique. These sounds are recorded and then edited and arranged on school computers, using free downloadable software called Audacity. The resulting composition provides an aural snapshot of a sonic landscape. Just like an ordinary picture postcard, this ‘Sonic Postcard’ is then sent via e-mail to other schools taking part in the project and to the Sonic Postcards website, where it can be accessed and listened to by the general public.
Sonic Postcards is a truly nationwide initiative that reflects the diversity of cultures, environments and experiences within the UK. So far, the project has reached approximately 1400 students, 100 teachers and 54 schools from locations as varied as the Shetlands, Aberdeenshire, Devon, Cumbria and Central London. It has proven successful in Primary, Secondary, Special, PRU and blind schools.
As an organisation we are concerned that the education work we do is inclusive and accessible to all pupils, enabling them to expand their ideas creatively and feel confident using the technology and concepts. Students as young as 8 years old are able to experience the pride associated with creating their own professional-sounding composition and being able to send it to recipients of their choice. Even after the projects finish, the enthusiasm for this type of work endures. A student with Asperger’s syndrome at Nettleham C of E Junior School in Lincolnshire went home after finishing the project and he and his siblings sung happy birthday into a microphone on his family computer. Then, using Audacity, he mixed the sounds and created a sonic birthday card for his mother. A student at Hamnavoe Primary School in Shetland, who completed the project last year, continues to carry a small notebook everywhere to jot down any unusual sounds she hears. A recent project, which included a child on the autistic spectrum, had a positive impact on the way in which he interacted with his classmates and according to his teacher “it really brought him out of his shell”.
Teachers are fully included in all stages of planning and implementing the project. For teachers, our intentions are twofold: the project fosters cross curricular links and a greater open-mindedness in teaching strategies, while simultaneously it aims to remove the fear sometimes felt by teachers who are unaccustomed to using IT in the classroom. The project always begins with an INSET session with any staff members who will be involved or who are interested. During this session, the equipment is introduced and demonstrated and teachers have the opportunity to practise some of the tasks which their students will later learn. The INSET also allows the workshop leader to look at the IT facilities at the school and ensure that the school network is able to handle the data that will be generated. This often brings to light quite extreme limitations in school computer systems and on a number of occasions, we have been able to communicate with network administrators to find ways to make the IT provisions more ‘usable’ – not only for the duration of the project, but for the future also.
Although technology forms an important part of this project, Sonic Postcards is extremely flexible and even a mobile telephone can be used for recording and transporting sound. In fact, perhaps one of the pivotal aspects of this project is an aim to show that technology is only ever a tool for the creation of something that originates from human imagination, dedication and hard work.
Each project is facilitated by one of our dedicated base of workshop leaders, who live all around the UK. The fact that students are able to work with established sonic artists and composers who live in their community, endorses and signposts creative career options and provides positive role models. Sometimes there is also the option to work with an additional artist – e.g. visual, dance, spoken word - who helps develop the project further and increases the interdisciplinary possibilities.
We are in the process of re-launching our website (due for completion Monday 21 November), which will be a centralised portal, encompassing all the work which has been done on the project (sonic postcards, artwork, details about each individual school, photographs). It will also have a section for teachers and those interested in this type of work, where it will be possible to download lesson suggestions, worksheets and equipment information. The project and website are intended to serve as springboards for creative thinking and a more informed understanding of the effects of sound.
Research by professors at a number of London Universities has shown that in many areas of the UK exposure to high levels of so-called ‘ambient noise’ contribute to social, psychological and health-related problems. Children in particular are at risk of suffering from poor auditory discrimination, poor memory, low reading ability and difficulty concentrating in class. Sonic Postcards aims to address these issues and to show how concentrated listening can have implications within and beyond the classroom and the scope of the project.
Sonic Postcards is successful because it is constantly looking to the local environment, challenging participants’ perceptions and identifying ways to utilise the skills and software creatively and thoughtfully. At its core, it is incredibly simple, yet the links which it draws, the creativity it inspires and the subtlety it encourages can help to establish incredibly mature work and noticeable improvements in behaviour, concentration and self-esteem.
5 November – 15 January
Playing John Cage
Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol
Featuring new commissions and installations by Alvin Curran, Ryoji Ikeda, Rolf Julius, Tagaki Masakatsu, Kaffe Matthews, Carsten Nicolai, Akio Suzuki and Michael Prime. It also presents works by Gavin Bryars, Michael Parsons, Mieko Shiomi and Christian Wolff as well as by Cage himself. Audible mushrooms, sonic furniture and a new take on Cage’s fascination with Kyoto’s most famous Zen garden. This exhibition explores the legacy of John Cage’s ideas on contemporary music, art and sound.
Retro Bar, 78 Sackville Street, Manchester
A one night Micro-Fest featuring live music, performance artists, DJs, film, and installation. Featuring Finnish/Mancunian electro-stun-grenade Roger, psychedelic punk-folk from Robin Nature-Bold, Hi-Impact Karaoke doomblues with SwampThroat, woodpants balladeer Norman Clayture, outsider musician John Calvert and the film Airports 2 by Scott Arford. Plus HIT DJs and a special guest remote set from WFMU’s Liz Berg.
Kerry Yong & Michael Oliva
Concert Hall, Royal College of Music, SW7
Kerry Yong (piano) and Michael Oliva (electroacoustics) play a programme including
Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstuck xvi.
18 November - 18 December
South London Gallery, SE5
Her Noise is a season of installations, events, performances and screenings by a wide network of artists whose practice involves the use of sound as a medium. Featuring work by Christina Kubisch, Kaffe Matthews, Kim Gordon with Jutta Koether, Emma Hedditch and Hayley Newman.
McRobert Building, Aberdeen University
Experimental music showcase returns with its fourth installment featuring Texan artist Doug Ferguson playing improvised analogue electronics, live electronics and video by Aberdeen's Andy Le Kipp, Patrick Keenan, and Steve Morrison plus Bill Thompson.
21 - 26 November
The Media Centre and Bates Mill, Huddersfield
A diverse programme of live performances, installations, workshops and talks by UK and international artists working in new interdisciplinary ways across the interrelated fields of new media, contemporary electronic music, software production, new technologies and audiovisual performance. Featuring, amongst many, live Performances from Pan Sonic, Sue Costabile, AGF, Jaap Blonk, Golan Levin.
JAPANESE NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL VER.4
93 Feet East, E1
Seven Japanese avant-garde bands including Acid Mothers Temple, Ruins and Zubi Zuva X come together to tear larynxes, bleed ears dry and induce seizures.
Take Me To The River: Slow Soundwalk 3
Meet at Otterspool Gates Aigburth Road and take a slow morning walk down Otterspool Park Path to the river taking in the sonic delights of the wood. A chance to slow down in the urban rush. All welcome: avoid noisy bags and clothing.
Youth Music LIVE Project Co-ordinator
12 months - 3 days per week (22.5 hrs flexible) Fee 18k
Jan 2006 - Jan 2007
Purpose: To oversee the establishment of the SHIPS (Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of White and Porstmouth) "Youth Music - Live Project" and cement it as the support structure for young people’s music making and performance in the region.
Background: JIF - The Joint Investment Fund (JIF) was set up by the SHIPS Arts Officers Group. Together with Arts Council England South East, the group is funding a range of regional projects based on four national Priorities for
Partnership set out in the document "Local Government and the Arts - A vision for Partnership".
Research: Research was commissioned to investigate current provision of (live) music making opportunities for young people in the SHIPS region and a plan was produced to inform future developments. The research suggests the creation of a SHIPS Youth Music - Live Project to establish a permanent infrastructure to support the following stake-holders:
New musicians with rehearsal and tuition facilities.
Established bands with performance opportunities and Music Industry advice.
Existing venues and facilitators with business support and CPD opportunities.
Local Music Industry professionals with peer networking and access to new talent.
Key areas for decision making:
Interpret findings from Research Report and expand to include all types of musical performance.
Establish a network and build relationships between venues, professionals and facilitators.
Develop protocol/standards for venues and young people. Commission the development of and research for a chosen website.
Develop a regional live circuit programme of performance.
Manage operational budget
Reports to: Live Music Project Steering group
Timescale: January 2006 - January 2007
Hours: 3 days per week (22.5 hours flexible)
2006 Brunel Bicentenary Composition Competition
Brunel University Arts announce a competition for a new 12' work for solo cello with live electronic transformation, and string orchestra.
The new work will be performed by cellist Matthew Barley and the SouthBank Sinfonia, conducted by Peter Wiegold, on 28th September 2006, in London’s Cadogan Hall, and then recorded for Quartz Records.
How to enter:
Eligibility: Open to all ages and nationalities.
Composers are invited to send scores and/or CDs (3) of past work, and a proposal for this new piece, both musical and technical.
From these proposals, one composer will be selected to write the new work.
Closing date for material and proposals: Monday 16 January 2021
Winning composer to be notified by 1st February 2006
Work to be completed by 10th August 2006
Specified duration for new work: 12’
The judges for the competition will be Professor Peter Wiegold, international composer and conductor, Chair of Music Research at Brunel; composer Colin Riley, Subject Leader in Music, Brunel University; and distinguished cellist Matthew Barley, Associate Artist, Brunel University.
It is expected that the composer will work closely with Matthew Barley before the completion deadline, and that composers will already be familiar with the
relevant technology (probably MAX-msp).
Prize: There is no financial prize, but there will be full technical support, the opportunity to work with a leading soloist and very fine young orchestra in a prime London venue, and a commercial recording as part of a CD of new music for cello and electronics.
Materials and proposals should be sent to:
Jay Wilkinson, Director, The Arts Centre, Brunel University, Cleveland Road, Uxbridge, Middx UB8 3PH (with SAE if you wish to have them returned).
Further details from Brunel Arts on 01895 266074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
EMPIRICAL SOUNDINGS: Call for Work
EMPIRICAL SOUNDINGS - soundscapes from the commonwealth
During the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games to be held 15-26 March, a cultural festival will be held in Melbourne and provincial cities in the state of Victoria, Australia. Bendigo, a large provincial city 150 km north of Melbourne, as part of its cultural festival, will host a surround sound installation featuring soundscapes by sound artists living in various Commonwealth countries.
Sound artists from Commonwealth countries are invited to submit sound pieces expressing some aspect of their home country or one or more of the sports included in the Commonwealth Games (sports that will be contested are: aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, bowls, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, netball, rugby 7s, shooting, squash, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting).
A 5.1 surround sound system will be available so soundscapes can be in any configuration suitable. Pieces should be no longer than 7 minutes long. Up to 10 pieces will be selected for the installation, which will run from March 15 ˆ March 26, 2006. An honorarium of $AUD100 will be paid for each piece used.
Expressions of interest and requests for further information can be sent to Jacques Soddell (email: email@example.com)
The deadline for submissions is 28 January 2006.
Further submission information will become available on the website (http://cajid.com/empirical/)
Call for Proposals
Electroacoustic Music Studies Network (EMS) - International Conference Series in a special cooperation with the Electronic Music Association of China's (EMAC) MusicAcoustica 2006 Festival in Beijing.
EMS06 - Electroacoustic Music Studies – Conference Theme: Terminology and Translation
Marc BATTIER (MINT-OMF, Université de Paris-Sorbonne)
Joel CHADABE (EMF)
Kenneth FIELDS (CEMC/CCOM )
Leigh LANDY (MTI – De Montfort University)
Daniel TERUGGI (INA/GRM)
ZHANG Xiaofu (CEMC/CCOM)
Time and place: 23-26 October, 2006 – BEIJING, CHINA
The EMS conference is organised yearly through the initiative of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network, an international team which aims to encourage reflection on the better understanding of electroacoustic music and its genesis, appearance and development over the span of a century. The organizers are all engaged in the key areas of debate and actively seeking the development of solutions.
The first conference, in October 2003, was a result of the initiatives of De Montfort University (UK), the University of Paris-Sorbonne (France), and INA/GRM (France). It took place at the Georges-Pompidou Centre in Paris, within the auspices of IRCAM’s Résonances 2003 festival. It second event took place in October 2005 in collaboration with Concordia and McGill Universities and the Université de Montréal. Selected papers of both events appear in Organised Sound (Cambridge University Press). As of 2006, thanks to a collaboration with ISAST (International Society for the Arts, Sciences and technology) and OLATS (Observatoire Leonardo des Arts et Technosciences), a Leonardo-EMS prize will be given to a selected communication of a researcher under 35 years of age for publication of the paper in Leonardo (MIT Press).
Organisation of the EMS06 conference
Electronic Music Association of China (EMAC)
De Montfort University (G-B)
Electronic Music Foundation (USA)
Center of Electroacoustic Music in China, China’s Central Conservatory of Music
Université de Paris-Sorbonne (France)
Electroacoustic Music Studies Network
MTI (Leigh Landy, EARS ElectroAcoustic Resource Site, MTI Research Centre, De Montfort University)
INA/GRM (Daniel Teruggi)
MINT (Marc Battier, Musicologie, informatique et nouvelles technologies, OMF, Université de Paris-Sorbonne)
The special theme of EMS06 is:
Electroacoustic Music Studies –Terminology and Translation
In harmony with the week-long MusicAcoustica06 event (22–29 October) which, as is the EMAC06 conference, is focusing on the broader theme of ‘Language’, EMS06 will concentrate on a crucial aspect of language, namely terminology. The current interest in construction of domain-specific lexicons, ontologies and semantically structured word nets should be as highly relevant to practitioners in the field of electroacoustic music as it is now in every other professional community. Every expert domain must address the effect that semantic linkage is having on the organisation of their field. In fact, even beyond critical issues such as those arising from translation of new terms (such as microsound or ambient music) into languages like Chinese, the terminology in our field is in an awkward state. It is assumed that projects posing new approaches toward coherent structuring of local knowledge will have faced not only these trans-terminological issues but also multilingual issues. The objective of this ‘summit’ is to create a forum of sustained co-operation.
The theme is related to:
1. Ontologies (Structured Terminology)
2. Glossaries (Construction, Evolution, Translation, Platforms)
3. Thesauri (Multilingual)
4. The Knowledge Base (Schemas, Prototypes)
5. Semantic Web (Metadata, Linkage)
6. Discourse Analysis (Authoritative Sources)
7. Music/Journal/Content Database Organisation and Indexing
8. Expert Domains (Community: People who use/live the vocabulary)
Associated questions include:
• Why would ontological or conceptual models be useful in professional sound/technology practices and scholarship?
• What are the specific issues which surround the design and technical construction of multilingual expert terminologies?
• What examples exist in other related fields which are involved in the effort to assemble authoritative lexicons or knowledge bases? Who are our partners (people, tools) in this endeavour?
• What are the lessons learned from historical or ongoing projects in the audio community to assemble, evolve and maintain glossaries?
• How are semantic web technologies influencing the creation of glossaries, documentation of software and distribution of electronic music and research articles?
• Are there potential uses for structured vocabularies in music composition or music programming?
• To what extent do local issues and/or language issues relate to these themes?
It goes without saying, knowledge domain experts of electroacoustic music must contribute toward the construction and maintenance of knowledge bases and conceptual models in their field. These efforts are critically relevant at this historical moment as we move into the semantic web era. Any lack on our part in rigorous specification will ultimately wind up in the hands of the non-expert information specialist. Current projects related to knowledge organisation by way of ontology specification, metadata design, topic mapping, discourse analysis, keyword derivation and multilingual glossary projects are directly influencing the development of semantically organised music content.
Further typical EMS themes include:
1) Sources and resources
- What types of materials are being or should be documented?
- How does one create, expand, preserve and offer access to collections?
- What opportunities exist for exchange and collaboration?
- How can we help make the electroacoustic music repertoire more accessible?
2) Discourse / analysis of electroacoustic music
- What types of discourse are relevant to electroacoustic works?
- Which forms of representation and which approaches to analysis are useful?
- Which analytical methods are currently being developed?
- How can one adapt existent analytical methods of music to electroacoustic works,
many of which involve no prescriptive notation?
- How can we further develop the field of study of electroacoustic music?
3) Analytical tools
- How are analytical tools being produced and disseminated in the community?
- What means are available for communicating the sonic form through symbolic and graphic representations?
- Does the study of electroacoustic Musics require specifically-designed tools or can it take advantage of methods conceived for other music?
4) Taxonomy, terminology, and aesthetic diversity
- What systems of classification are in use or should be developed?
- How can we become more consistent in our use of terminology in a field as dynamic as electroacoustic music?
- Are there aesthetic questions that are specific to electroacoustic music?
Proposals concerning other aspects of electroacoustic music studies are, of course, welcome.
Format for presentations:
Proposals for spoken presentations should be submitted in the form of an extended abstract (maximum 2 pages) accompanied by a detailed C.V. and list of publications. The abstract should be ready for publication if the proposal is accepted. The duration of each paper will be 20 minutes (not including the question period). The papers may be given in English or French Multimedia support will be provided in the form of video projector (for laptops), overhead projector, CD player, internet access and stereo sound system.
A programme containing the paper abstracts will be distributed.
22 October 2020 – Opening of the MusicAcoustica Festival
23-26 October 2006 – Conference sessions and concerts
22-29 October 2006 – EMAC conference sessions and concerts in parallel throughout the week, sight-seeing excursion
Guidelines for submissions
Deadline for receipt of proposals (abstracts and CVs of contributors): Saturday 1 February 2021
Submissions are to be made electronically. Send abstract (in French or English, 2 pages maximum) + 1 detailed CV + a list of publications and a brief 15 line maximum biography to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure that your name, institutional / organisational affiliation (if any), contact address, telephone, and preferred e-mail address are included on the abstract.
A selection of the papers is scheduled to be published in Organised Sound (Cambridge University Press) in 2007. Other papers will be published on the EMS website: http://www.ems.dmu.ac.uk/. In both cases examples on other media (audio, audio-visual) will be welcome.
Call for Works
Fifth Annual International Women’s
Electro-Acoustic Listening Room Project
Cal State Fullerton
Voices on the Edge:
Women in New Music Festival
March 9th-12th, 2006
Concerts, Listening Room, Lectures, Master Classes, Workshops featuring
PAMELA Z, voice and electronics
ETHEL, string quartet
CHEN YI, composer in residence,
and other guest composers, performers, scholars
International Women’s Electroacoustic Listening Room Project:
The Women in New Music Festival features day-long playback of works by women in electroacoustic music During the 8 hours of the electroacoustic listening room the listener’s mind is immersed in the sounds of diverse compositional voices of women composers in electroacoustic music from over 20 different countries from around the globe.
The Women’s Electroacoustic Listening Room strives to present a diverse sampling of different approaches to electronic music, with examples from classical computer music, environmental music, and meditative music to works that expand acoustic virtuosity and improvisation with virtual instruments to sonic documentaries that capture the inner workings of the mind: horror, humour and the unfolding of human dramas.
This year the Women’s Electroacoustic Listening Room focuses on VOICES ON THE EDGE and will also go ON THE ROAD and be presented at various venues throughout the United States and Europe.
Submit your proposed electronic/electroacoustic work for inclusion in the listening room event: Voices on the Edge. Maximum length 12 minutes. Please include: CD of proposed work, submission information: length of work, name of composer, contact information, program notes and short bio to address below. Also send all submission information by email to
Dr. Pamela Madsen
California State University, Fullerton
P.O. Box 6850
Fullerton, CA 92834-6850
Postmark Deadline: January 15th, 2006
For more information contact: email@example.com
Call for Papers, Call for Works
Live Algorithms for Music Annual Conference and Concert
Dec 19th-20th 2005, Goldsmiths College, London, UK
The EPSRC-funded Live Algorithms for Music network investigates the use of autonomous computers in creative performance. Our interest is in systems that run live algorithms, that is to say systems which collaborate actively with human performers - or other machines - in real-time performance, and can do so without the presence of a human operator. The requirement of a live algorithm is that it should participate in a performance just as a human might, making apt and creative contributions to the musical dimensions of sound, time and structure.
The network brings together performers, composers and scientists in the areas of cognition, artificial intelligence and computing.
We are pleased to announce that our special guest this meeting is Al Biles, Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. Al is a Live Algorithms pioneer, famous for his genetic algorithm jazz improviser, GenJam. Al will be talking to us about GenJam and evolutionary music, and performing with GenJam at the LAM concert.
We invite the submission of papers on any subject relevant to the aims of the LAM network.
Proposals for performance are also welcomed.
There will also be a session for short reports on ideas and work in progress.
Details of LAM at www.livealgorithms.org
Please contact Tim Blackwell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michael Young (email@example.com)
Call for Papers/Presentations
Two Thousand + SIX
A new international conference focusing on performance in technology mediated environments
This new conference will kick off as part of the 2006 Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (www.sonorities.org.uk), hosted at the Sonic Arts Research Center, Queen’s University Belfast (www.sarc.qub.ac.uk). The festival is the longest-running new music festival in Ireland that presents cutting-edge new music and features some of the most thought-provoking and controversial musicians.
The "mini-conference" aims to reflect the innovative approach of the festival and will, for the first time, bring together performance practitioners (from music, dance, theatre and new media), composers, and theorists in order to discuss a wide variety of topics on performances that are informed by new technologies.
The "mini-conference" is planned for Saturday, the 29th of April 2006 at SARC in Belfast. Paper sessions will take place in the morning and the afternoon, with two keynote speakers, a lunchtime performance and an evening concert.
Susan Broadhurst Sue is a writer and practitioner in the creative arts. She is currently Subject Leader of Drama Studies at Brunel University. She is the author of " Liminal Acts: A Critical Overview of Contemporary Performance and Theory" (1999); "Digital Practices: A Critical Overview and Neuroesthetic Approach to Performance and Technology (forthcoming, 2005), and "Performance and Technology: Practices of Virtual Embodiment and Interactivity (forthcoming, 2006). Sue is also co-editor of the Body, Space & Technology online journal.
Ben Watson. Wire contributor, Trotskyist and Zappaphile, Watson has written extensively on themes such as pop culture, situationism, punk, Adorno, Frank Zappa and improvisation. He is the author of "The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play", “Derek Bailey and the Story of Improvisation”, and “Art, Class and Cleavage”.
Call for papers/presentations:
For this one-day conference we invite proposals for papers that reflect on performance and technology. As this is a short event, a maximum of 16 papers of 20 minutes duration (plus question time) will be accepted.
Abstracts (max. 350 words) are due by the 15th of December 2005.
Presenters of accepted papers/presentations will be informed by the 15th of January 2006. The registration for the one-day event will be £40 (£15 unwaged). This includes free access to all Sonorities Festival events on the 29th April 2006.
All accepted papers will be published online. Further information on the conference will be posted in December 2005 on the SARC website: www.sarc.qub.ac.uk
Submissions and all queries should be directed to:
SPNM Call for Works 2005
Deadline: 27 January 2021
This is the UK’s most inclusive call for new music. You can be ANY AGE. Your music can be of ANY DURATION, written in ANY STYLE, in ANY GENRE and for ANY FORCES AND MEDIA.
spnm’s annual call for works finds the best new music in the country each year. It is open to anyone who is composing new music, of any age, based in the UK or Ireland. From the anonymous submissions a panel from a broad range of musical backgrounds selects 30 composers to join the spnm shortlist. Over the next three years spnm then offers these composers opportunities to have performances of their work, participate in training and professional development and receive promotion from spnm for them and their work.
Whether your work is for western or non-western acoustic instruments, an electronic piece or an installation, electroacoustic or improvised, if your work is new and taking the form andits audience forward, you should apply for this call.
For more information and to download an application form, visit http://www.spnm.org.uk/activities/callForWorks.html
This looks grim. Shot in shades of grey, an abandoned car rests in forestry beside a busy road. The door is open, but not inviting. In the dreary distance a vehicle approaches, too late to assist - the goods have already been hacked and plundered. The perpetrators have vanished without visible trace.
Inside awaits a blacked out CD, save for some text identifying those involved with its creation, Samartzis, Müller and Voice Crack [a.k.a. Andy Guhl and Norbert Möslang]. A tranquil recording of birdsong opens up the first track, quite at odds with the desolate imagery adorning the cover. A minute passes with no intrusion.
Without warning, we are interrupted by a barrage of electronic fizzes, cracks and sinusoidal ringing that unpredictably ruptures the soundscape. The natural world becomes manifested with the residue of modern technologies and it’s difficult not to think that the fractured shell of the car is somehow representative of the “cracked everyday electronics” that feature heavily throughout the CD. The prolific Günter Müller uses a unique pick-up and microphone system on his selected percussion whilst MiniDisc’s, iPod’s and additional unidentified equipment are employed by the others in a recording originally captured on July 18th 2002 at the Media Arts RMIT University, Melbourne.
Each of the three tracks continues through decaying, delicate improvisation for roughly twenty minutes, taking inspiration from the reoccurring environmental sounds, which go on to include the swarming of bees, the beeps of a reversing lorry, the sounds of children playing and the trickling of water, to give examples. Each sound is observed for its specific attributes in true Schaefferian tradition, the resonance of which is mimicked and mutated by the group to generate an otherworldly fabrication of the ‘real’ object in something that comes across like a sleepwalk in a national park. It would be wrong here to expect unpleasant, bland digital embodiments of natural sounds – the hands-on technology that the group are improvising with retains involuntarily a sense of human presence, something that gels the two elements together.
The first track, ‘tombac_toothless’, is an exceptionally well-executed and immersive work with some extraordinary sonic simulations, which after the third listen also shattered my initial qualms with the lengthy track time. The final track acts as a contrasting wind-down. High frequency drones envelop the room with subtle shifts that cause them to beat in the inner ear whilst CD’s gently crack in the undergrowth. This is the homeward stretch from what has indeed at times been a bleak, biting journey, so make sure you wrap up warm and put your headphones on before immersing yourself in its murky grey depths.
Four established electronic improvisers have joined forces and crafted a subtle and refined album to add to their collection. If this sounds like your ‘thing’, it should certainly be in yours.
Reviewed by DJC de la Haye
Cottage Industrial Vol. 3
[HUMBUG RECORDS 037]
Norwegian label head honcho Anders Gjerde, seems to have trawled through some very dark and terrifying places to compile the latest Humbug Records release. “No big feat” you might say, because don’t all Norwegians get left at the age of four in a mountain forest with a rusty hook and given three days to return back to the hut with a fully grown beard and a moose heart? But this collection goes to the extremes of darkness, in terms of timbres, tones and context only to go full circle and morph into some kind of soundtrack to watching the northern lights.
Out of the 17 tracks presented here not one is disappointing from the opening track by Ryfylke’s, a scattered electronic poem made from signals on John Cage’s answer machine, (yes he did have one but refused to listen to it). It is clear that Humbug have a peculiar taste and listening to this collection is more like a lecture on light than a listening experience.
Raionbashi crunches special move noises from arcade classic Double dragon and sandwiches them with fists full of silences, Norway Pulse by Sinistri is a beatific collapse of live deconstruction; imagine Derek Bailey in an episode of Coronation Street, and you are nowhere near.
Pho with Didi Bruckmayr, delve into terror noise territory with their untitled piece, expanding on Pho’s already jazzgressitronics, the whole piece raises images of Derek bailey in an episode of coronation street HAVING a heart attack, whilst being
contact mic’d up, yes as John Zorn tunes up, yes as Ornette Coleman asks to leaves as it is too much for his little ears.
Wooden Wand and Satya Sai Baba give us ritual organica with the Lamont Young inspired Crow’s Feet, My personal favourite is Excepter's "Wet Margarete". A delayed vocal chant from NYC washing the ears with empty mono synths, kind of like the piece of music you would expect at Laurie Anderson’s funeral.
Lunt give Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine a damn good kicking with the 9 minute opus ‘You keep me afraid’, a solo improvised piece using several loopers and processed guitars in order to fix movement somewhere between smoke and crystal. And they say Alchemy has no room in sound art!
‘Stuffing Kit’ by Anders Hana is another solo guitar piece but what is lovely about this piece is that it really reflects empty mountains, with goats moving in the dark mossy grass, voidfull and beautiful.
Pho return with their second track ‘Summary and Conclusions’, a 48 second breather space before Violets Rock 'n' Roll. You have to listen to this track, it is Sesame Street on Retolin, check out the site http://www.russkhan.com/home/witcyst/etps/LifeSpace.htm.
The entire collection ends on the 11 minute classic by Idea Fire Company. ‘Heroes’ is a synth, radio tapes, sci-fi march full of gloom keys and no hope and munstersesque aplomb, a perfect ending to this cd.
And that’s just the tracks on it, the art work deservers another review all by itself in Art Forum or Flash Art, due to its style, design and free stickers!!!!
Basically order this CD now.
Go on Do it.
Review By Justin Wiggan
Future cultural servant for WhiteElephant