Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)
Its possible to start with saying I don’t like to review compilations, and ‘Extract’ is a real difficult one. Two CDs, twenty-two tracks, by people that we may know from the world of microsound. That is twenty-two pieces of deep bass hum, crackles, processed field recordings and static hiss being filtered through Max or PD (depending who’s side you are on). It’s not easy to spot the highlight in this contest of ‘I am more silent than you’. That is a possible approach. But we should be better off approaching this from a more positive view. The owners of Non Visual Objects have already released a bunch of CDs and this book is a sort of introduction to the world which they are present in. The hardcover book has about 100 pages, and it’s four pages per artist. ‘Where are you from and what do you do’ is more or less the approach taken by the curators of the book. Not a book about theory, but a gentle introduction. Some people talk about their origins through the form of interviews, others write themselves about their work, which is not always about their music. It can be also about other forms of art they occupy themselves with, such as photography, installations or drawings. It adds a more human aspect to the music, seeing the photo’s of the artists and their personalized stories, which work best if they leave the format of an interview, and when they are really personal, like the ones of Steve Roden, John Hudak and Roel Meelkop. With a fresh look at the book (with excellent minimal design), we return to the CDs and listen with different ears. Here we now notice small differences in the various musics that are presented here. The sheer silence of Chartier, I8U, Dean King and Meelkop, but also the street sounds of Gunter, the radio looped minimalism of Hudak, the looped ambience of Taylor Deupree (who has a true trademark sound by now), drone like material from Dale Lloyd and Keith Berry, Jos Smolders’ musique concrete based on environmental sounds, or even a bit more noise based as with Will Montgomery. It’s the smaller variations perhaps to the untrained ear, but major ones to people who are used to microsound. Also included are Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Tomas Philips, Steinbruchel, Nao Sugimoto, Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet and Micheal Vorfeld. One could wonder a bit over the selection here, which seems a bit arbitrary. Why no Francisco Lopez, Stephan Mathieu or Marc Behrens? But it’s perhaps too much of a personal selection, but at the same time it introduces us to some lesser known people such as Andy Graydon, Richard Garet and Micheal Vorfeld (who is better known in a different scene, I guess, that of improvised music). This is an incomplete overview but it may serve as an excellent introduction to the uninitiated as well as shedding some light on some of the people we know so well, but who don’t get so much coverage in the real press. As such the best book this year so far. (FdW)