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Splitting Bits, Closing Loops: Sound on Sound
Contributors' Notes

AGF: Leo's Code (4:40)
Performed and produced by Antye Greie, Berlin, Germany, February 2003. (© Antye Greie)

Contact: AGF, c/o Kitty-Yo, Greifswalder Strasse 29, 2. HH 2 OG, 10405 Berlin, Germany.
E-mail: agf@poemproducer.com.
Web site: http://poemproducer.com.

For Leo's Code I used HTML code that I found on a random web site and improvised with it while reading the site's scripts and text fragments. Later, I edited the piece in a way that emphasizes its broken flow of words and content, creating an image of an emotionalized female turtle robot that desperately needs a restart because it has gotten lost in the code.

I created a minimal soundtrack based on two tones, just as computers are based on two tones---1s and 0s. I used a microphone, a pre-amp, an Apple PowerBook, a VX Pocket audio card, Logic, GRM (Group de Recherches Musicales de l'Institut National de l'Audiovisuel) plug-ins, a digital synthesizer and a mouse and a brain for editing.

Born and raised in East Germany, AGF---a.k.a. Antye Greie---has been active as a musician and producer since 1990, playing in the German band Laub as well as performing solo. A member of Berlin's Kitty-Yo label, her responsibilities as the label's web site project manager mutated into an artistic exploration of technology and expression with her 2001 release Head Slash Bauch, in which Greie translated fragments of HTML script and software manuals into a choppy, deconstructed pop format. AGF's recordings have been featured on Mille Plateaux, Disco Bruit, Sprawl, Crosstalk and other labels. Greie was an artist in residence at Podewil, at the Berlin Contemporary Center, in 2001, and contributed a sound installation, Berlin Klang, to Sonar 2000.

M. Behrens: For the Further Consequences of Reinterpretation (9:11)
Written and produced by M. Behrens, at the composer's studio, Frankfurt a.M., Germany, and Grimacco, Italy, 2002--2003. (© M. Behrens)

Contact: M. Behrens, Brüder-Grimm-Str. 46, 60385 Frankfurt, Germany.
Website: http://www.mbehrens.com.

This track is a product of a process that was started by the Japanese artist Nosei Sakata (a.k.a. *0), who asked other artists to "remix" some of his material for release on the CD *0---0.000 remix---INFLATION. Sakata had produced a CD that appeared to play back basically nothing (its sound was outside of the human hearing range), and the idea was to create "everything from nothing." When I received my promo copies of the CD I decided to take the process further: I took material from the reinterpretation pieces by Taylor Deupree, Hsi-Chuang Cheng, Aube, Richard Chartier, Akira Rabelais, John Hudak, Bernhard Günter and Steve Roden to construct a further reinterpretation. After the completion of the piece included here, I gave the material to the Portuguese artist Paulo Raposo (of Vitriol), who himself did another reinterpretation. Raposo and I use different methods to compose, as well as different structural approaches, and premiered both of our---however complementary---pieces in the form of a friendly "audio duel" (like a Ping-Pong match) on 21 March 2003 in the auditorium of the Goethe-Institut Inter Naciones in Lisbon. The show was entitled "Further Consequences of Reinterpretation."

Born in Darmstadt, Germany, M. Behrens has lived and worked in Frankfurt since 1991; he also has been a citizen of Elgaland-Vargaland (www.krev.org) since 1997. After beginning his musical studies in experimental jazz and rock groups in the late 1980s and pursuing a series of tape releases, acoustic feedback recording and multimedia works throughout the 1990s, Behrens today is perhaps best classed as a "sound artist," working across the boundaries of performance, installation and recorded media. He has performed and exhibited extensively across Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Japan and North America, including appearances at Chicago's Lampo and the Sound Art Exhibition at the InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.

Alejandra & Aeron: Village Football (3:33)
Written and produced by Alejandra Salinas and Aeron Bergman, La Rioja, Spain, 2003. A longer original version was published as an MP3 project on Datamusik (www.datamusik.com), Denmark, 2002. (© Alejandra Salinas and Aeron Bergman)

Contact: Alejandra Salinas and Aeron Bergman, Torrent de Vidalet 13 (5), Barcelona 08012, Spain.
E-mail: aaland@luckykitchen.com.
Web site: http://www.luckykitchen.com.

Generally speaking, we have reached the conclusion that although quality formal techniques are essential in presenting a body of work, the process must be a fine blend of form and idea. We like to work with sound pieces in which our views, tales and observations of the world around us are included not to display our technical virtuosity, but as essential elements.

Telling tales, offering opinions, pondering death, sketching portraits and documenting ways of living: These are job descriptions usually attached to writers, but we feel they could apply to sound artists as well. The inclusion of narrative in art is an old practice, and our ideas may be old-fashioned, but are abstraction and formalism so new? Perhaps the notions of old and new have outlived their usefulness: It seems more accurate to speak about history as occurring in overlapping circles and spirals than as a straight cause-and-effect timeline such as we see in conservative history books.

Our recording Village Football is based on an excerpt from a series of cassette tapes recorded in the late 1960s by Emiliana Sainz in her living room in Viana (Navarra), Spain. The original tapes were made as a homey and creative way to send familiar domestic sounds as souvenirs to relatives living away from home. These particular tapes were sent to Sainz's daughter, Pilar Tolosa, who had emigrated to Toronto in the mid-1960s. By the time we found them 30 years later in Tolosa's home, dust and travel had degraded the quality of the already low-fidelity tapes to a muddy, wonderfully brown sound. We found these recordings incredibly beautiful: their simple, mundane subjects and the degraded sound quality created a disembodied and yet warm, sentimental feeling.

There was no central focus in the recordings. Frequently, Sainz had kept the tape recorder going until the tapes ran out, collecting long periods of whatever conversation or quiet was naturally occurring in the house. In addition to conversations about lunch, there are endless sections where the only sounds are the dripping of a leaky sink, the tick of a Swiss clock, and the occasional footsteps of someone passing from one room to another. The section we chose for this track is of Sainz's son, Pilar's brother, Alberto Tolosa, watching a football match on the television between the teams Osasuna and FC Barcelona. Alberto grumbles and roots for his team, as is the custom of villagers everywhere.

We composed and assembled electronic sounds to ease the original recordings one step further from chance documentation. In the process, we used samples from the original tapes along with computer-generated tones so that harmonies, dissonance and textures build up and fall away with the "action" of the footage, thus emphasizing the mundane drama of the past.

In our work, we include select instances of "imprecision" to bring our recordings away from the artificiality of studio recordings towards a more realistic fidelity of how the world actually works. That is, the real world is dirty, full of imperfections and uncontrollable dynamics. To erase all trace of these moments is a typical response: We choose specifically to include them.

In Village Football, we use the imperfections of the medium as strengths to lend warmth and atmosphere to the final composition, which is equally musical, narrative, sentimental and strange. This short work speaks for some of the drives behind our greater body of work, and yet we hope it stands alone as an intriguing, small piece of recorded time.

The duo of Alejandra Salinas and Aeron Bergman recently relocated to Barcelona after several years in La Rioja, Spain; the pair has also lived and worked in Toronto, Detroit, New York and London. They dedicate themselves to a highly personal yet communicative style of composition drawing on field recordings, musique concrète, computer music, pop and folk music. Salinas, born in Logrono, Spain, studied fine art at New York's School of Visual Arts and London's Guildhall University; Bergman studied art history and fine art at Michigan State University, the University of Toronto, and New York University. Since 1997 they have run the Lucky Kitchen record label, and their recordings appear on Fat Cat, Tomlab, Bottrop Boy, Softl Music and Orthlorng Musork. Alejandra and Aeron have performed and installed work internationally, including at Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City; Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg; Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen; Changing Room Project Space, Stirling, Scotland; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Odum (Lampo New Music Foundation), Chicago; OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria; and the ICC in Tokyo. In 2002 they received the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Digital Music.

DAT Politics: Bag (3:09)
Recorded at Lovestock Studio, Lille, France, 2001. Originally created for the Fƒllt MP3 label project Fodder. (© DAT Politics)

Contact: Skipp/Claude Pailliot, B.P. 57, 59003 Lille cedex, France.
E-mail: datpolitics@ski-pp.com.
Web site: http://www.ski-pp.com.

Bag is based upon no particular concept but nonetheless incorporates numerous examples of error (both digital and analog) as a medium in and of itself. We reformat wave data as pulse code modulation (PCM) (Intel/Motorola LSB, MSB), A-law 8-bit or Mu-law 8-bit data, and then feed text and image files into sound-editing software. In addition to particular sonic textures, unexpected melodies occasionally occur from such processes to then become the "musical" content of the piece.

We use slow, cheap laptops. This means that we have to adjust the size of the buffer accordingly, recording at a lower data rate and creating skipping and drop-out effects that are used to make "breaks" in the track. Finally, electroacoustic sources come into play, such as interference from cables and the mixing desk.

Bag was originally commissioned by the MP3 label Fällt in 2001. As part of the Fodder series, it has existed until now only on Fällt's web site (http://www.fallt.com. Fodder releases are "packaged" using MP3 and PDF technologies for purely digital distribution. Reflecting a "distribute then print" concept, each release is designed to be easily assembled once downloaded.

The Lille-based quartet DAT Politics formed in 1998 and was involved in Tone Rec, which has released three albums on Belgium's SubRosa label. DAT Politics, which has recorded for Fat Cat, A-Musik, Digital Narcis, Tigerbeat6 and Chicks on Speed, pursues a "glitch" electronica agenda that unites strains of computer music, post-techno and pop. DAT Politics performs live on laptops and runs its own label, Skipp, which has released recordings from Goodiepal, Aelters and Felix Kubin, among others.

Stephan Mathieu: A Microsound Fairytale (Conclusion) (6:15)
Original recordings from a Kapotte Muziek concert at Im Eimer, Berlin, Germany, August 1996. Reworked by Stephan Mathieu at Pixelland, Schafbrücke, and Pullover, Falkensee, between February and October 2002. Published by Freibank. Taken from the CD Kapotte Muziek by Stephan Mathieu on Korm Plastics (KP 3012) (www.kormplastics.nl). (© Stephan Mathieu)

Contact: Stephan Mathieu, Akazienweg 25, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany.
E-mail: mathieu@bitsteam.de.
Web site: http://www.bitsteam.de.

I like the basic idea of the computer being a machine that works for you. My main applications are like organisms---living creatures. Once you've made friends with them, you can rely on them and become a team. This is what my work since 2001 has been based on: a certain trust in my software, with not too much control imposed by the composer.

With my rework for the Dutch band Kapotte Muziek, this concept topped itself out. I spent 8 months processing raw material, resulting in the usual several gigabytes' worth of material. When it was about time for me to finish the piece, I returned to my files to edit them down in ProTools (Mac OS9). I re-listened to everything, made some adjustments and then rebooted in OSX to work in Soundhack. After a little while my machine crashed, hard---so hard that all I could do to restart it was to take out the batteries. When I finally rebooted in OSX, the computer did nothing but play this music for 30 minutes---a medley of my Kapotte Muziek material, finished by the computer itself.

Kapotte Muziek, ironically enough, translates as "damaged music." The live concert I remixed took place in 1996 in a Berlin club called Im Eimer---that's "in the bucket," a funny way of saying "out of order/damaged".

Born in 1967 in Saarbrücken, Germany, Stephan Mathieu spent the 1990s in Berlin as an improviser playing drums. In 1998 he returned to his hometown to "become a family man" and began working with a computer. Since 2000 he has taught digital arts and concepts at the University for Arts and Design HBK Saar in Saarbr€cken and at the Bauhaus Academy in Weimar. A composer, performer and installation artist, Mathieu has created sound installation works for the cultural heritage monument Völklinger Hütte, Germany, and elsewhere and has released more than 10 albums for labels such as Orthlorng Musork, Ritornell, Lucky Kitchen and Fällt, both solo and in collaboration with Ekkehard Ehlers (as Heroin), among others.

Francisco López: Untitled #115 (Parts 1 and 2) (6:22)
Recorded at Mobile Messor, Barcelona, Spain, and Prague, Czech Republic, 2001. (© Francisco López)

Contact: Francisco López. E-mail: franciscolopez@csi.com.
Web site: http://www.franciscolopez.net.

Over the last 20 years, Francisco López has developed his own sonic universe, absolutely personal and iconoclastic, based on a profound listening to the world. His pieces aim to destroy boundaries between industrial sounds and wilderness sound environments. López has realized concerts and sound installations all over Western and Eastern Europe, North, Central and South America, Japan and Australia, and his works have been released by more than 100 record companies throughout the world.

Institut fuer Feinmotorik: Slo (4:56)
Recorded at Breite2 Studios, Bad Saeckingen, Germany, 2000. (© Institut fuer Feinmotorik)

Contact: Institut fuer Feinmotorik, P.O. Box 1424, 79707 Bad Saeckingen, Germany.
E-mail: feinmotorik@gmx.net.
Web site: http://institut-fuer-feinmotorik.de.

Institut fuer Feinmotorik (IFF) is Marc Matter, Mark Bruederle, Daniel van den Eijkel, Florian Meyer and Melanie Wratil, plus some freelancers and collaborators.

The setup for this track, as for other tracks produced by IFF, is rather simple: eight turntables, four DJ mixers, an end-mixer and one to four persons. Everything (except records) that somehow fits between the turntables and pick-up cartridges (e.g. household rubber bands, paper stickers, rubber gums, handicraft tools and various tinker trivia) is used to produce sounds, which are manipulated and arranged through the DJ mixers.

IFF's music appears mostly in the context of electronic music, but it is deeply mechanical. We aim to imitate the structures and aesthetic codes of digital/electronic music by using an important instrument of electronic music, namely the DJ setup. With club equipment, minus the records, we create the aesthetic approach of a stumble-structured rhythm music, sounding not unlike some state-of-the-art PowerBook click-hop piece listened to through closed doors. Unlike many other generative procedures of this genre, no single piece of our music is reproducible; each performance is unique.

Founded in 1997 for a club event in Basel, Switzerland, Institut fuer Feinmotorik (IFF) is an artists' group that works with various formats and media, currently focusing on acoustic art and music. Primarily living and working in the Black Forest, IFF is also present in Zurich, Switzerland, and Cologne, Germany. IFF produces photographs, video, music, drawings, computer programming and printed matter, organizes artistic/cultural events and is involved in publishing music, records and books.

Janek Schaefer: Rink (excerpt) (9:41)
Written and recorded by Janek Schaefer at the audiOh! Room, London, U.K., 14 February 2002. This recording appears in a longer form on Skate/Rink, audiOh! 11 LP and Staalplaat STmCD 023 3-inch CD. (© Janek Schaefer)

Contact: Janek Schaefer, audiOh! Room, 34 Crewdson Rd, London SW9 0LJ, U.K.
E-mail: janek@audiOh.com.
Web site: http://www.audiOh.com.

Rink uses source sounds taken from my Skate LP combined with live room recordings taken from the Skate installation at Triskel Arts in Cork, Ireland, August 2001.

The composition and the installation both began with a single copy of the LP. By playing the LP on my Tri-Phonic Turntable in various ways, I recorded 60 different textural and rhythmic sound events. Adding 30 silent tracks of varying lengths I then produced a master source CD-R, copies of which were loaded into three random-play CD players. These were broadcast simultaneously into the gallery via three sets of speakers positioned along the length of the space. The architectural context was therefore mixed into this continuous re-composition and recorded.

Attached to each pair of speakers was a light source that flickered, faded and glowed according to the linked sounds from each CD; occasionally the gallery was left in silence and total darkness as all CDs hit a silent track and the lights died. The result was an immersive exploration of the impact that sound and reactive lights can have on the experience and perception of the space where they are installed. The 3-inch CD pressing of the composition has 99 track marks so it too can be played randomly.

My original concept for the Skate LP itself was for a record that usurped the deterministic spiral (and the "anti-skate" mechanism) as a way of playing and listening to sound on vinyl. To do this I developed a "fragmented" cutting technique, a method of cutting a concentric collage of individual short "sound scars" onto the disc. When it is played, the stylus navigates its own random path across this intermittent terrain of these physical and sonic diversions. The type of record player, its speed and the user will all affect the result, and thus each and every playback of the LP will elicit a different composition.

After much research it proved unfeasible to experiment in a professional cutting room to develop this process. I then decided to build my own lathe by inverting the acoustic sound reproduction mechanism of a wind-up 78-rpm gramophone. Using a car stereo system, I positioned a pair of speakers so that they played "backwards" into the sound funnel and thus ultimately back into the acoustic stylus of the gramophone. With sufficient volume applied, the stylus would then act as a vibrating cutting head, a basic lathe. A 14-inch blank master disc was placed on the turntable and rotated at varying speeds using the gramophone's wind-up mechanism. By very quickly placing the stylus/cutting head onto the disc, I built up the final collage sound by sound. This was a rudimentary cutting process, one of both loss and accumulation of the sound "quality."

Janek Schaefer was born in middle England to Polish and Canadian parents in 1970. After preparing sound collages as a boy, Janek's musical career was fractured in his teens when, as head chorister at school, his voice broke. A decade later, while studying architecture at the Royal College of Art, he rekindled his audio career with a piece entitled Recorded Delivery. Since then, the nature of sound has been his focus, resulting in many releases, installations, soundtracks for exhibitions, and performances involving his self-built/invented Tri-phonic Turntable.

Steve Roden: OTR (6:46)
Written and produced by Steve Roden, 2002--2003. Recorded at the Bubble House, Pasadena, California. (© Steve Roden)

Contact: Steve Roden, P.O. Box 50261, Pasadena, CA 91115, U.S.A.
E-mail: sroden@inbetweennoise.com.
Web site: http://www.inbetweennoise.com.

This piece was originally composed for the En Red O Festival in Spain and presented as an installation for the Beyond Noise Conference in August 2002 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The installation consisted of a simple setup of a CD player and two speakers on a table in front of a couch. The work was looped and played quietly.

A few years ago, my mother gave me a small stack of 45s that were her favorites as a kid: Chuck Berry, the Platters, etc. When I began listening to these, it was not only the music that I was attracted to, but also the surface scuffs from repeated listenings and years of wear and tear. For OTR I used a recording of "Over the Rainbow" by the Dimensions as my source material. What you are hearing are the processed sounds of the surface noise at the beginning and end of the record---along with some of the first and last notes of the music. I was inspired by the noise as a kind of physical history of the object. The sound of a vinyl record exists as a kind of performative or listening moment; I wanted my work to exist as a kind of after-listening, like a memory that has disintegrated into the fuzzy shadows of its original presence. The aging processes of a human and a piece of well-played vinyl are not so different---one is covered with wrinkles and scars, the other with scratches and fingerprints. These images begin to redefine the surface as a new surface or new persona, a new face built upon the old one, a new song composed of disturbances and interruptions. Somewhere beneath the noise still exists the song. I like the idea that this quiet, repetitive music is a kind of aesthetic mirror for all those nights my mother fell asleep listening to these records, the dark room humming with the minimalist rhythmic sound of a needle stuck in the last groove, endlessly circling the record label until morning.

Steve Roden is a visual and sound artist from Los Angeles. His work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, films and sound pieces. The works are a combination of conceptual strategies and intuitive movements. Found structures and systems are lifted from their original intentions and used as the basis for improvisation, abstraction and composition. In his sound works, objects, architectural spaces and field recordings are abstracted through electronics to create new audio spaces, or "possible landscapes." Roden's sound and visual works have been presented in museums, galleries and arts spaces internationally---including the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum Los Angeles, the Stadt Galerie Saarbr€cken, Germany, the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and the Drawing Center in New York. He has performed his sound works at numerous festivals and arts spaces including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Gallery 360 in Tokyo, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Hayward Gallery in London. More than 20 CDs of his work have been released on various labels, including Sonoris of France and Trente Oiseaux in Germany. He recently completed an audio residency at Engine 27 in New York.

Scanner: Spirit Trace (5:24)
Written and produced by Robin Rimbaud, Scannerdot Publishing, London, U.K., administered by Bug Music, 2003. (© Robin Rimbaud)

Contact: Robin Rimbaud, P.O. Box 6127, London E2 6XD, U.K.
E-mail: scanner@scannerdot.com.
Web site: http://www.scannerdot.com.

Spirit Trace follows my collaboration with the artist Mike Kelley as part of the Sonic Process exposition at Centre Pompidou in Paris, France, in 2002. We produced a multimedia installation as a musical homage to the pioneering researchers of Electronic Voice Phenomena: Friedrich Jürgenson, Konstantin Raudive and Attila von Szalay. Electronic Voice Phenomena refers to the sounds and voices that can be heard in ambient audio recordings, arguably those of the deceased. For that project we recorded at locations of a spiritual relevance to the city of Paris---the tomb of Allan Kardec (1804--1869), one of the leading exponents of spiritualism in his day; the gravesite of Charles Cros (1842--1888), the man who designed the phonograph and tried to contact life on other planets, and so on. For Spirit Trace, I focused on the anomalies found on blank digital recording media of very personal locations in London. What one hears is the highly amplified sound of the ghosts in the machine, the spaces in between the zeros and ones, corrupted, distorted, processed and reconstructed into this work---literally, the sound of digital "silence."

Scanner---British sound artist Robin Rimbaud---creates absorbing, multilayered soundscapes that twist technology in unconventional ways. His controversial early work used found mobile phone conversations that he wove into his compositions; his focus has shifted more recently to trawling the hidden noise of the modern metropolis as the symbol of the place where hidden meanings and missed contacts emerge. Scanner is committed to working with cutting-edge practitioners and has collaborated with artists from a variety of genres: musicians Bryan Ferry and Laurie Anderson; the Royal Ballet and Random Dance companies; composers Michael Nyman and Luc Ferrari; and artists Mike Kelley and Derek Jarman. In addition to compositions and audio CDs, his diverse body of work includes soundtracks for films, performances, radio and site-specific intermedia installations. He has performed and created works at SFMOMA, San Francisco; Hayward Gallery, London; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C.; Tate Modern, London; and the Modern Museum, Stockholm.

Stephen Vitiello: Slow Rewind (5:38)
Written and produced by Stephen Vitiello, and recorded at Make Believe Ballroom, West Shoken, New York, 2002. (© Stephen Vitiello)

Contact: Stephen Vitiello, c/o The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011, U.S.A.
Web site: http://www.stephenvitiello.com.

Slow Rewind is the only remaining byproduct of an unreleased 12-inch record that I worked on for about 6 months in 2001--2002. Recorded in a beautiful old-fashioned studio on 2-inch audiotape, the piece is the sound of several songs moving from tail to head. I had the last-minute thought to document the sound of the machine rewinding, as it was creating an unintentional composition. It has become the ghost-print of the missing record.

Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and media artist based in New York. Recent exhibitions include the 2002 Whitney Biennial; Ce qui arrive, curated by Paul Virilio at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest, also at the Cartier. CD releases include Bright and Dusty Things (New Albion Records) and the forthcoming Scanner/Vitiello collaboration on Audiosphere/SubRosa. His installation World Trade Center Recordings: Winds after Hurricane Floyd is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum and has been exhibited internationally.

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Updated 22 October 2003