Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Heinrich Deisl, skug

Das Wiener Label Nonvisualobjects legt mit “Extract. Portraits of Soundartists” als formschönes Buch plus DCD akustische Fährten Richtung Mikrosounds und schickt die Ohren auf Entdeckungsreise.
Stille: Spätestens seit John Cage eine ernstzunehmende kompositorische Praxis, von David Toop und anderen kontextualisiert, eine Art Gegenbewegung innerhalb experimenteller Soundart, die zum aktiven Zuhören zwingt. Die minimalisierten Soundcluster und -flächen gehen zwar schon als eigenständige Musik durch, dienen aber vor allem als Transportmedium, um die uns umgebenden Alltagsgeräusche musikalisch bewusster wahrzunehmen.
Bislang fehlte eine österreichische VÖ mit internationaler Relevanz, die sich ausschließlich mit derartigen Phänomenen auseinandersetzt. Nonvisualobjects war 2005 vom Musiker Heribert Friedl und dem Grafiker Raphael Moser gegründet worden. Von Anfang an hatte man sich dabei auf Sounds zwischen Installation, Ambient, Fieldrecordings und Stille verlegt, die Arbeitsmethode ist programmatisch: Reduktion. Experimente e-musikalischer Prägung stehen hier an, als Fluchtlinie sei etwa Bernhard Günter genannt.
Die 22 Tracks von Richard Cartier, Nao Sugimoto, Taylor Duprée, Steinbrüchel, Asmus Tietchens, Jos Smolders und klarerweise Günter und Friedl erforschen jene Klangfelder, die sich sozusagen hinter der Musik aufhalten. Mit der aus Montréal stammenden France Jobin aka I8U ist die einzige Frau auf dieser Compilation vertreten. Wenn auch in sich recht stringent, verzichtet dieser “Beginner’s Guide” auf überbordende Theoretisierungen sondern verlegt sich auf die Personen selbst. Ein löbliches Unterfangen, wenn man endlich mal erfährt, wie eben diese Musik entsteht. “Extract” zeichnet ein vielschichtiges Portrait der Künstler und ihrer interdisziplinären Herangehensweise, die sich vor allem an der Schnittstelle zwischen akustischer/visueller Präsenz/Absenz manifestiert. Dies passiert mittels Interviews, eigenen Texten oder biografischen Skizzen, dazu kommen selektierte Diskografien. Schließlich ist “Extract” reich illustriert mit Projektfotos, Grafiken, Zeichnungen und John Hudak liefert Comics ab. Ambitioniertes Projekt.
(heinrich deisl, skug)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Massimo Ricci, touching extremes

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

The thought of having passed a whole life transferring tapes to CD and DVD only to clutch at flies at the end is enough to think of myself as a cretin but hey, one has to find something to “enjoy the passage of time”, as James Taylor would have it. Seriously, once upon a time I could only have dreamed about a honest publication containing news and pictures about artists whose music I follow and mostly respect, and that in this case are sonically represented by two CDs containing tracks that they recorded for this special occasion.
The names in question are Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, i8u, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Roel Meelkop, Will Montgomery, Tomas Phillips, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto, Asmus Tietchens, Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet, Michael Vorfeld.

Every chapter presents an interview or some personal considerations by the artist about his own work and his/her relationships with other members of the same community. Most of them describe their approach and influences, others let drawings and photographs do the speaking while only a few – like Keith Berry, whose splendid track opens the first disc – report about the intimate sensations that unconsciously introduced them to certain types of withdrawn awareness. It is of course very interesting to know how these people have reached goals while still struggling to develop new means to synthesize determinate conclusions, but it’s equally nice reading about a man like Asmus Tietchens, who distances himself from most everything while being capable of producing music whose level of efficacy on the perceptive system is portentous to say the least.

The discs contain a lot of great moments, the perfect means to complement a very useful reading, and there is no actual sense in defining a “best of”. But, since you asked, Berry, Deupree, Lloyd, Roden, Tietchens and Ubeboet are the tracks that I liked in particular, and it was not an easy choice. What I really suggest is using both the book and the CDs like a breviary: open your windows, turn the volume up, let the sounds mix and read a few pages. Everything will make sense then.
(massimo ricci, touching extremes)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists (nvo) 2007 – by Larry Johnson, earlabs

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

For anyone interested in modern-day approaches to experimental electro-acoustic music, especially the more minimal interpretations, Extract | Portraits of Soundartists is a valuable, practical, and enjoyable reference. Conceived by Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser, the release consists of two compact discs featuring compositions from twenty-two contemporary artists involved in making electro-acoustic music. The discs are housed in a 96-page hardcover book containing text and/or images from each artist. View complete artist/track listing here .

I’ve had Extract | Portraits of Soundartists in my possession for about a month now. It has accompanied me wherever I go throughout the day. Sometimes I just listen to compositions on the discs, other I times I sneak in a few minutes to read (and re-read) the essays, interviews, etc. in the book, but the most rewarding times are early mornings/late afternoons when I can sit down, relax, listen and read at the same time. It’s at these moments that things begin to come together as the text that I read and the images that I see help make sense of and give context to the intricate, abstract, and beautiful sounds that these artists are producing. I’m also humbled by what I’ve read realizing now that so much of what I’ve written and reviewed in the past is way off the mark. If only I knew then what I know now.

Describing the music found on the discs is difficult. In the broadest sense, it’s about artists exploring the seemingly infinite and non-traditional ways in which sound can be manipulated, transformed, sculptured, recontextualized, disassembled, and reassembled. Dean King summed it all up nicely in the form of a question – “how far can music be reduced and still be understood as music? (p.47)”

At a minimum, Extract certainly achieves two important purposes: First, it provides a representative, international cross-section of the many sound artists involved in composing experimental electro-acoustic music (although I would liked to have seen more female artists included). Of the twenty-two artists included, there were only five whose work I was not at all acquainted with. For the remaining seventeen artists, my awareness ranges from very familiar to just a mediocre knowledge. Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Heribert Friedl, Bernhard Günter, John Hudak, Dale Lloyd, Steve Roden, Jos Smolders, Ralph Steinbrüchel, Asmus Tietchens, and Ubeboet are common names to me. Also known to me, but not quite as familiar, are Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, I8U, Dean King, Roel Meelkop, and Tomas Phillips. Now, with deference to Extract, I’ve been introduced to the work of Keith Barry, Will Montgomery, Nao Sugimoto, Toshiya Tsundo, and Michael Vorfeld.

Secondly, we get multiple viewpoints in varying formats (interviews, essays, photos, drawings) detailing the inspiration, influences, purpose, and techniques behind the process of sound construction and revealing mutual threads of interest and other commonalities. Examples are plentiful – Dean King gives a wonderfully articulate and philosophical exposé concerning his methods establishing connections and drawing parallels to literature, abstract painting, and photography. He also writes about disassembling and decontextualizing sound and how granular processing makes possible the “transformation of time.” Tomas Phillips goes into some detail about “minimalist tendencies” and the “minimizing of sound.” Bernhard Günter draws interesting analogies between photography and music viewing both cameras and audio recorders as samplers capturing visible and auditory frequencies, respectively, that can then be digitally manipulated, and the title of his accompanying track “Listen to what you see” says a lot about his methods. France Jobin (I8U) gives a short biographical essay outlining the “environmental and technological landmarks” encountered during the “creative process.” Keith Berry and Richard Chartier each reveal the importance of early childhood “sound memories” and discuss the significance of visual art in their musical development. John Hudak writes about the similarities in the creative processes of drawing and music creation. Heribert Friedl writes about his interest in combining sound art with his work in “non visual objects.” Andy Graydon expounds on the influences of music concrète, film/cinema, and environmental art on his sound work. Toshiya Tsunoda discusses his interest in “vibration phenomenon” and the role it plays in his compositions and installations. Jos Smolders labels much of his sound work as “abstract” explaining that it’s often constructed from concrete sounds, but not necessarily connected to reality, and he makes an interesting analogy between his methods and the expressionistic school of painting. Nao Sugimoto explains that “the sounds, textures, and colors of nature” are essential to his current work. In a similar fashion, Richard Garet regards his sound art as a “constant response to the complexities of the environment“ taking in everything around him and then “putting it out in different reconfigurations.“ Will Montgomery makes reference to the element of “uncertainty” in his work and speculates on the indirect influence of his interest in contemporary avant-garde poetry on his music. Steinbrüchel speaks for several artists when he says that “I feel more connected to other artists throughout the world than in my local area.” There’s a common theme of local “isolation” tempered somewhat by a connectedness with like-minded people outside their locale via collaborations made possible by the internet. Finally, more than one artist made it known that regardless of how much intent and purpose is put into a composition, among the best pieces are the ones in which chance takes over and allows the work to “unfold” naturally on its own.

My only wish now is that enough people see the worth and importance of such a dual media work like Extract that we see more of the same. A free, virtual/downloadable online follow-up to this reaching out to anyone interested would be the ideal. A fresh roster of sound artists might include names like William Basinski, Marc Behrens, Esther Bourdages, Joda Clément, Anne Guthrie, John Kannenberg, K. M. Krebs, Francisco Lopez, Stephan Mathieu. Christopher McFall, Nathan McNinch, Michael Northam, Ben Owen, Pablo Reche, Asher Thal-nir, and Sabine Vogel to name just a few.
(larry johnson, earlabs)