Sunday, June 22, 2008

why listen to sound art?

Richard Lerman "Border Fences" installation

Note: This is partially written for people who are not very familar
with sound art and will hopefully spark some interest for further
investigation. I consider this an article in progress, so it is by no
means finished and will undergo periodic editing.
After the article is a short list of links for further research.
Thank you very much for your time.


With all the intense events that we read about in the news,
it seems apparent that basic survival remains the number one
priority for most humans, even in a world where it seems like so
many advances to alleviate such a concern have been made.
Granted, in many cultures where such advances have somehow
elluded them, they "make do" with what they have, which is all
any of us can do anyway, yet it must be noted that "advances"
for one culture don't always mean the same thing for another.

For those of us who have access to certain technology, and the
means to obtain it, we also have access to a staggering variety
of "personal inspiration resources" at our disposal as well. One
kind of resource that many of us turn to is music. That being
the case, one would have to wonder why a current era individual
would want to limit themself to just one or two types of music.

Fortunately, there has been a steadily growing number of people
who are tired of the old "music = commodity" paradigm and
have found themselves wandering far outside the societal box
in search of something that speaks to them in different ways
and in turn, opens their minds to alternative possibilities that
they never knew existed. Somewhere along the way, one will
eventually run into what is sometimes refered to as "sound art".
Other terms such as "avant-garde" or "experimental music"
have been used as well.

To clarify, I will paraphrase Wikipedia with the following

description: Sound art is a diverse group of sonic art practices
that considers wide notions of sound, listening and hearing as
its predominant focus. This might require a shift in perception
for a listener because at first it might seem very strange and
alien from what they were raised to think of as "music".
What the Wikipedia definition points to is a mindset that
considers all sound has having the potential of being enjoyed
as music (whether it's organized by humans or not). In this
light, anyone trying to proclaim that particular sounds are
"not music" are expressing an entirely subjective opinion.

As with visual art, there are many different levels of sound art
which can range from people recording and assembling sounds
in their bedroom, to people writing music for academically
trained ensembles to perform. It is not my intention to go into
the history of sound art. Instead, what I would like to bring
attention to is why people listen to sound art, and for those
who have not yet delved into much of it, briefly discuss why
one would even want to listen to some of it.

The reasons for listening to sound art are more numerous

than one might realize. It can provide a particular "spice" to
our personal atmosphere, a "soundtrack" for various aspects
of our lives - our moods, imagination, creativity, and leisure
activities (i.e. reading, hobbies, etc) that no other type of
music might do. Of course, some artists reading this might
cringe at this utilitarian line of thought, but they should
understand that artists can't expect everyone to have time
to drop everything they're doing and sit inside a sound proof
room to completely focus on an artist's work. One beauty of
sound is that it doesn't have to prevent people from doing
other things while they are experiencing it. In fact, some of
my best listening comes when I am doing graphic design work,
and it obviously inspires what I'm doing as well.

So sound art should not appeal only to art professionals and
CD / record collectors. Nor should it go ignored by people
who've been raised to believe that anything without a beat
and melody is not music. In fact, some sound art does have

these traits, and many have used this as an entry point to
delve into more challenging work later. As a curator of a
recording label myself, it's been a personal mission to help
open people's minds and ears to listen to a wider variety of
sound than that which is officiated, sponsored and promoted
by corporate and academic establishments, and this goes
the other way around as well. Artists (or anyone else for
that matter) shouldn't feel embarrased to admit that they
pull out a Madonna CD right after listening to Francisco Lopez.
In fact, the semi-regular "office ambience" list that I post on
the a/O MySpace blog clearly illustrates what I'm talking about.
Bottom line: It's all good. It's all sound.

Further Research:
UBU Web:
What Is Sound Art? - article and interviews:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yuki Kaneko: Rut

catalog number: moar2
title: rut
format: CD

"Rut" is a beautiful sparkling kaleidoscopic homage to the common
wonders of day to day life that displays Yuki's great talent for subtly
weaving together complex textures of electronic and acoustic sound
sources into cleverly abstract melodic musings. As with Sawako Kato's
debut release a few years ago on and/OAR, this will also prove to be
another perfect CD for Spring and Summer. Initially released on
Magic Book Records in Japan just a few months prior, this US release
of "Rut" is quite different in that it has been remastered with some
tracks being completely re-constructed and/or remixed, plus one of
the Magic Book tracks was replaced with a new one. In our
opinionated opinon, this is the quintessential version of Yuki Kaneko's
"Rut" and mOAR is very happy to make it available!

NOTES: Apart from some quibbles regarding minor pre-press
glitches which somehow managed to escape my critical gaze,
I'm still pleased with the overall outcome.
I had originally wanted to use uncoated stock for the digipak (like I
did for the Mou, Lips! CD), but having encountered a rather costly
printing problem trying to use uncoated stock for the oSone release,
I opted to play it safe and stick with a matte finish for "Rut".
The oSone release was reprinted on high gloss because at that time
I wasn't sure how matte stock would look. It wasn't until the
Jovanovic: Galiola CD was made (with the matte) that I realized that
it was a better than the average digipak stock.