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28:sound links

 Issues earlier than this please go to our ISSUU site

Entries in sound (21)


Bahamas: Please Forgive My Heart, 2013

This particular video is of the recording studio units that were used for Bahamas's Please Forgive My Heart, evidently a rare 1967 Germanium Neve console, which means nothing to me, but they also show a tiled shower stall for reverb.  I know about this because Eon Sinclair wrote an article in On Site review 28:sound 'Singing in the Rain', p43, about all the music recorded in washrooms in the 50s and 60s. Please Forgive My Heart is a Bobby Womack song, but that is by the way, other than his version of 2012 sounds pretty electronic – I don't think a shower played a part.

There were a lot of sound links in Eon's article which aren't linked in the ISSUU pdf, but are found here:  We had to take off a few for copyright violation, but what's left is a half dozen videos with beautiful reverb.

It is always encouraging to find a substrata of creative activity that actually prefers the old techniques: vinyl lovers is one – a richer sound supposedly.  As I never get rid of anything, I still have my old vinyl collection, but without a system anymore to play it on, other that the Philips portable turntable I got for my birthday in grade 11, but which turns slightly faster than it should having had the belt replaced by Philips in London to suit the change in power delivery.  A long sentence, but one could do such things once. 


Charles Stankievech, The Soniferous Aether, 2013

35mm Film Installation
Duration: 10:18 Loop (this is a lower resolution edited trailer – just a taste)

from Stankievech's website:

The Soniferous Æther of The Land Beyond The Land Beyond is a 35mm film installation shot at the northernmost settlement on earth— ALERT Signals Intelligence Station— as part of a series of fieldworks looking at remote outpost architecture, military infrastructure and the embedded landscape. Shot using a computer controlled time‐lapse tracking camera during the winter months, the military spy outpost radiates within a shroud of continuous darkness under a star-pierced canopy harkening an abandoned space station.
He speaks about it as the first panelist in Air | Land | Sea with Charles Stankievech, Kara Uzelman and Cate Rimmer, part of Gallery Hop Vancouver co-presented by the Canadian Art Foundation and the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver.  This is a tremendously interesting three presentations:

Argentina's Playlist for Freedom

Part of BBC's Freedom 2014 programming: Natalio Cosoy's passionate explanation of the music of Argentina's often coded popular and folk songs during both military rule and after.  A wonderful half-hour of 'anthems to perseverance', as he says, 'what music can actually do, in terms of instilling freedom into society.'

Manifestación de las Madres de Plaza de Mayo en 1983, // Click on image to take you to the BBC page. Not ever sure how long these things are available for, but this image gives you all the tracking information.

This is an exciting series.  Here is a link to hip-hop in Africa.  For someone, me, who came to African music in the pre-African Rap late-80s, this program explains much that I had seen as neo-colonialism.  Again, it and the words were and are coded, flying under the radar of convention, tradition and military regimes. 


Ann Hamilton: the event of a thread

at Park Avenue Armoury, New York, December 5 - January 6


Adrian Utley: Croft Castle, Sonic Journey

John Minton, filmmaker. Adrian Utley, composer. Sonic Journey, Croft Castely, Herefordshire, 2012.

The National Trust in Britain has commissioned a number of artists to do works about specific landscapes, both rural and urban.  Croft Castle has a number of ancient trees, including a thousand-year old oak, a triple chestnut avenue and 'mysterious ancient hawthorns', that magical tree. 

If you click on the image above, from the film, it will take you to the film and the soundtrack.  It is about 15 minutes long.  And if you just want to listen to the music, here it is:


Bang on a Can: music for airports

Brian Eno's Music for Airports, in an airport, perfomed by Bang on a Can, 18 September 2011, part of the Altstadherbst Festival.


Jana Winderen: Wind Over Old Land [Neumes Du Vent - Lágrimas De Miedo 15, 2010] 

Because, it is still snowing.


Värttinä: Kylä Vuotti Uutta Kuuta

Because, it is snowing today.


Ebarme dich

Putting together this issue of On Site, on sound, has really made me listen to things.  And because music is the soundtrack, more so than traffic, or radio discussions, or mechanical systems, I find I'm listening to recordings and tracks with a different set of filters.

Several contributors to issue 28: sound talked about the purposeful manipulation of reverb time in churches and cathedrals.  This video of Michael Chance, with the Brandenburg Consort, singing 'Erbarme dich, mein Gott', from Bach's Matthäus Passion, Parte second:39, is clearly in a church – well, we can see that, but it is also in the sound of his voice, which is almost otherworldly.

When I looked about for other recordings of this same conveniently short and lovely piece, I came across Delphine Galou with Les Siècles, clearly not in a church.  More glamorous recording, a totally different but oddly more conventional sound, and it isn't just the difference between a counter tenor and a contralto, rather it is in that other active member of the ensemble, the space.  


David Sylvian: The God of Small Caresses

Uncommon Deities poem (Punkt 2011) on music by Jan Bang, Erik Honore and David Sylvian.

Uncommon Deities appears to be a reconstruction of an audiovisual installation by David Sylvian at the 2011 Punkt Festival at the Sorlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand, Norway.  For the cd, Sylvian's poems are read against settings by Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, Arve Henriksen and Sidsel Endreson.  

As all of this is alternative and for sale, the David Sylvian website has lots on information.  The piece that led me to this is The God of Small Caresses, of which one can hear an excerpt if you click on the image above.  

Otherwise, here is a rather beautiful video introduction to the cd with The God of Single Cell Organisms. 


Seamus Heaney: Digging

One can hear the slice of the spade in this poem Heaney wrote as a young man, and here in 2009, read in his seventies.  This was my father's favourite poem.  In his memory. 


Evelyn Waugh: 1960

A most interesting look at Evelyn Waugh in a 1960 BBC interview.  Curiously, Joan Bakewell's later introduction and John Freeman's comments seem to indicate that this interview is some sort of failure as Waugh was so bored, nervous, unforthcoming.  Curious, because it seems to me that Waugh answered some very strange questions very straightforwardly.  No, he doesn't get all chummy with the interviewer who soldiers on with what could be seen as dreadfully provocative questions, often a thinly-veiled prurient interest in a supposedly idle, well-upholstered, squirarchic life.  Clearly Waugh was on his way to being deeply unfashionable in the early 1960s, and actually still is.  

I quite respect Waugh in this interview and his resistance to the psychologising impulse that so dominates contemporary interviewing.  And yet, he does reveal so much.  For example, his self-indulgent sloth at Oxford where he was on an open scholarship and where he said he grew up, or public schools after WWI, bleak, terrible food, cold, shell-shocked and/or sadistic teachers: the basis of a terrific body of literature.  He wants to be seen as a wordsmith, a trade at which he labours.  The interviewer flounders, Waugh is implacable, he simply won't deliver what the interviewer wants.

Having recently been interviewed myself (a brief five minutes) and finding myself led completely off-track into fields I strenuously try to avoid, I wish I had the intelligence and sang-froid of Waugh, plus his patience.


John Berger and Tilda Swinton


Chris Watson: El Divisadero

'El Devisadero' by Chris Watson.
From the 12" EP El Tren Fantasma


the violent sound of remembering violence

link sent to us by Chloé Roubert

Extremism and zealotry beget generations of extremism and zealotry.  It isn't over yet.


Janet Cardiff: The Forty Part Motet, 2001

Janet Cardiff The Forty Part Motet, 2001. Re-working of Spem in Alium Nunquam habui, 1575, by Thomas Tallis.
40 track sound recording, 40 speakers, 14 min. Museum of Modern Art, 2001. Gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder in memory of Rolf Hoffmann. © 2012 Janet Cardiff. Photo: Thomas Griesel. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin.

Janet Cardiff's 2001 sound installation, The Forty Part Motet, was part of Peter Eeley's 2011 September 11 exhibit at MoMA PS1. However, it had been been installed MoMA in October 2001, and became the soundtrack to the processes of emotional reckoning in New York following the 11th of September. 

Eeley says, 'That work for me will always be tied to 9/11, since I encountered it here in the weeks following the attacks. Earlier in the year, Janet had created a spatial adaptation of a 16th-century piece of choral music by Thomas Tallis, recording each member of a choir individually and piping each voice into its own speaker, the group of which she arranged in a circle. Sitting in the middle of the room, we hear the full song, but, wandering among the speakers, the voices of the specific singers emerge more strongly.
The experience of hearing a collective song and the individual voices constituting it immediately summoned for me, and for others, the dead of 9/11 and their sublimation into the grief of national tragedy. I decided to simply put the piece back in the same room where it was in 2001—in part to think about what history has changed, and what it has allowed to stay the same.'

On You Tube there are a zillion different versions, mostly people recording while wandering around picking up voices from individual speakers, in cathedrals, churches, large empty spaces, controlled gallery spaces, always the same: banks of black speakers on stands arranged in a big circle.  

Not even tourists can distract from what is a pretty powerful experience, even in a 2-minute hand held extract.

and another, with discussion, at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds.



Tales from the Bridge

Millenium Bridge, London.

The Millennium Bridge crosses the Thames from the Tate Modern to St Paul's Cathedral.  During the Olympics it was the site of a sound installation, Tales from the Bridge, by Martyn Ware and David Bickerstaff: a one hour loop composed of music and a poetry narrative for two voices about the Thames by Mario Petrucci.   Speakers were placed the length of the foot bridge creating a vast ambient sound environment: music spatialised in Ware's terms.  Plus Daniel Hirschman's interactive component means that walkers themselves trigger other tracks so that the experience is never the same twice.  The poetry narrative is about the river, its role in London, its poets, its economic lifeline, its anecdotes, its history.  The music is Water Night, written by Eric Whitacre and performed by Whitacre's Virtual Choir.

Not only does the sound literally come from and spread out in all directions, the technology and the content too come from all directions.  The immersive nature of the new urban sound works are both beautiful and sophisticated, complex and content-heavy.  It isn't just ambient music anymore, but something much more sited, in space and time.  We can listen to Tales from the Bridge, below, but it will be a much different experience than listening to it over the water, in London, on that bridge. 

Illustrious Company


a change is gonna come

Sam Cooke - A change is gonna come by hopto

One of the proposals for On Site 28: sound is about recording studios and their particular qualities of surface and such.  Sam Cooke was mentioned.

We were in English in grade 9 and Judy Butler who sat behind me told me Sam Cooke had died.  This 1963 song, A Change is Gonna Come, sat, and still sits, at the heart of the Civil Rights movement.   

1963 was an important year: Martin Luther King wrote 'Letter from Birmingham Jail', the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham and four little girls were killed, King's 'I Have a Dream' speech was made in Washington, Medgar Evers was murdered.  Not until the formation of the Black Panthers in 1967 did black power begin to overtake black faith that a change was going to come.

And, still thinking of things Olympic, it was at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that the 200m gold and bronze medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, shared a pair of black gloves and made their stand for human rights.  Last night on the Radio Australia's Asia Pacific Report, there was a piece about the silver medalist, Australian Peter Norman, who also wore a human rights badge in solidarity and was subsequently reprimanded by the AOC and not sent to any further Olympic games. His 1968 200m record of 20.06 seconds still stands in Australia.  Evidently there is a debate in the Australian Parliament about apologising to him, although he died in 2006. 

Why do people wait until someone dies, before their time in this case - he was only 64, before admitting they treated them badly? 

Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium as the US anthem was playing, at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. They all wore the badge of the Olympic Committee for Human Rights, OCHR.



And thank goodness we live in 2012.

Water Blade Retina, from Fille en Aiguilles.  Schütze+Hopkins. Twilight Science Editions, 2012

Paul Schütze – lots of interesting stuff on his website, such as this:

Paul Schütze. Garden of Instruments. 314 Gallery, Bergen, Norway


Nick Cave's Soundsuits

Nick Cave, Soundsuit 1, socks, paint, dryer lint, wood, wool, 2006

Nick Cave, not the singer, but the artist from Missouri who was with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and is now director of the fashion program at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Above, is a Soundsuit.  Soundsuits' references are wide and deep, they are sculptures, costumes, installations.  They are assemblages, they make sounds, they refer historically to various African ceremonial garments.  They appear in performances and in art museums.

I lived in the middle of Kansas for a year, my first teaching gig, and spent a lot of time driving back country roads and finding installations of what was known as folk art then, outsider art now.  What they all had in common is their obsessive convictions and their marginal relationship to orthodox art and architecture – the Watts Towers in Los Angeles were not unlike Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in their mad-builder concentration.  

More recently, Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg project in Detroit has rejuvenated a despairing neighbourhood by saying, your house is yours, make it into something that is you.  And because this is an economically challenged place, such transformations inevitably are done with discarded and then re-found materials: the essence of folk art: all invention, no money.

What is interesting about this and where it comes back to Nick Cave and Soundsuits is that these projects cannot be included under the patronising rubric of outsider art: Nick Cave is firmly in the centre of American art production, and Heidelberg is a well-documented demonstration project of urban renewal that does not involve mass destruction.

Last week Gloria Steinem in an interview on Q  said it takes about a hundred years for a social change to really become an embedded part of the social fabric. Second wave feminism is about 40 years old and so, no, we are not in a post-feminist era, we still have 60 years of feminist struggle ahead.  The civil rights movement in the USA happened in the 1960s, just 50 years ago.  We are only now starting to find work that is  embedded in the orthodoxy of contemporary art discourse: it is not post-racial, for it is so very African American, an identity that is critical to the work.  But it is allowed to take its place within the discourse, and that is new.