[Image courtesy of Danny Pellisier.]
A simple question earlier today about the theme for this evening’s show had me waxing philosophical right up to the time of this post. In the absence of cohesive thematic ideas (or more accurately, the time to collect the material to act on them), I often find myself simply playing music I find attractive and which generally exists outside of the realm of the digital – dusty cassettes and limited vinyl releases in particular. While I’ve already pointed out the expediency of such a method, I do believe there is some deeper rationale behind this rather simple approach.
An ad hoc skit on CBC radio earlier today involving kids in the studio checking their phones while on-air and various announcers mourning the irrelevancy of radio was certainly nothing new (paraphrasing: ‘Oh yeah, this segment starts and at 4:36 all the kids rush to their radios to listen.’), though its timing for me was rather appropriate. What does radio have to offer? When we are able to freely listen to previews of music online, download albums in minutes, be shuttled on to similarly labelled releases and generally receive instant cultural gratification, how do the curmudgeons of Frequency Modulated radio waves compete? Precisely through the process of curation, no matter how haphazard or irreverent.
When software analytics and bots determine the patterns of huge swaths of cultural consumption the error-filled, belaboured and inconsistently executed process of selecting (or god-forbid, producing) media to share with a small community provides precisely the kind of serendipity and tension that is otherwise lacking. All the more effective when that material has been purposefully limited to the realm of analogue media, as though the artist were enforcing the sociable nature of the work. So long as this process avoids mere romanticism of an obsolete medium and continues to be proactive and creative in its community (surprisingly challenging on a consumption-based internet), this show will continue to exist.
Of course, after all the efforts of justification, I was in a rush and I like all of the material here and it is all newish. Three cheers for Relevancy!
1 – Mike Bullock – ‘Trompettes Marines’ – Figures Without Ground – United States, 2013
The sample below is from the title track of the same album.
2 – Jason Kahn – ‘In Place: Shibuya Crossing’ – In Place: Daitoku-ji And Shibuya Crossing – Switzerland / United States, 2013
You can find a brief review of the work here.
3 – Olivia Block – ‘Foramen Magnum / Opening Night’ – Karren – United States, 2013
A full review has been posted here (not to imply that I am capable of doing this work justice…).
Relatedly, Spark today had a show that touched on both the reinforcement of cultural hegemony through search engine analytics and the noise of early 20th century American cities and attempts in acoustic ecology to reproduce it. Talk radio doesn’t get any more relevant for Soundscapees.
Next week on Soundscape: on whom do I have a bigger radio crush, Nora Young or Anna Maria Tremonti?
I know, all Americans. I don’t have much faith in Canada this week, what can I say? Next week we will be back to our usual international selves. In the meantime, get the full show as a download or stream here.