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)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Tom Sekowski, gaz-eta

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

The premise sounds simple. Vienna based Non Visual Objects imprint invited twenty-two sound artists to present a piece of work. Over time, two CDs worth of sounds were filed. What are more impressive though are the non-musical aspects each of the musicians offers in “Extract” project, which not only consists of the music, but a nearly 100 page book. As the two project leaders – Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser – explain in the introduction, “We would like to present artists that work in different areas in this field of electroacoustic music, to cover a large spectrum even in this quite specific area. With essays, interviews, photos, drawings and other materials presented in this book, we try to look at the motivation and intention behind the sound production from different perspectives, to possibly allow for a new/extended approach to this form of music.” Though each of the artists is somehow tied in to the electro-acoustic and microsound scene, variety of artists included in the project fluctuates greatly. Taylor Deupree chooses to express himself with a variety of photos taken over three year journeys to Japan. Many of these are intensely personal and to get an inside scoop into his work is real difficult. On the other hand, his “Live in Osaka” piece is a rather pleasant, gliding, and ear-ringing glitch of soothing proportions. As many of the artists favour the question and answer interview scheme, so does sound manipulator Richard Garet. His contribution in the form of “Précis” is inundated with off-the-wall, distant crackles and glissando waves of buzzing. Bernhard Günter chooses to display some of his photos and his attached “Listen to what you see (audio sample of location of all Koblenz photos)” is a serene journey into oblique concoction of unidentifiable sound. John Hudak shares some of his drawings [which honestly remind me of Daniel Johnston’s better work], while his “Radio” piece is a glistening sound world full of cricket-like appropriations. Steve Roden’s distant-echo call of old, crackly records “Air Into Form/Voice Into Breath” is accompanied with a four pages of his working diary, which ultimately lets us peak into his thought process. Package ends on a high note with German audio-manipulator and visual artist Michael Vorfeld whose masterful percussive manipulations turn out to be as eerie as they are enlightening. In between all of these are contributions from Toshiya Tsunoda, Ubeboet, Keith Barry, I8U, Dean King, Tomas Phillips, Asmus Tietchens, Richard Chartier and a dozen others. In a nutshell, “Extract” fulfils its goal quite well. In showing the visual aspect behind many of these artists work, their music takes on an entirely new meaning. It’s true that the more you know someone, the more you’re bound to love them.
(tom sekowski, gaz-eta)

Review – Extract Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 by BGN, WHITE-LINE


It is encouraging that at last there seems to be a genuine groundswell of interest in the sonic arts here in the UK, in part stimlulated, no doubt by groundbreaking tomes by David Toop, followed by his inspirational Sonic Boom Festival in London some years back, which to some extent defined the paradigm shift in public understanding and acceptance of sound art. The accompanying book/catalogue was also representative of a weighty cross- section of sound artists in the world at the time. This was followed by another thoroughly defining book, “Blocks of Consciousness” issued by Sounds323, that has quickly become a kind of ready reference manual for neophytes, would-be sound artists, and sonic art adherents alike. The arrival in the UK of artists such as Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, and RLW, playing in prestigious venues such as the Barbican, Tate Modern, and Sage Centre, also indicate a subtle shift of interest into more obscure, and radical approaches to sound work. Now comes the beautifully produced EXTRACT, by specialist label Non Visual Objects, whose output over the last couple of years has cast a bright light over the genre of minimalism, with a series of exquisitely produced releases that focus primarily on the ultra-minimal, both in terms of design and presentation.
This book, rather than following tried and tested routes trawling the theoretical aspects of sound, takes a warmer, and more intimate approach by selecting sound artists who are very much “of the moment”, and gaining insights into their psyche by asking stock questions about early influences, recent influences, working methods, collaborations, connections to local art scenes, etc ,etc.
What is interesting about this approach is that it becomes a kind of census of a representative cross section of artists, which in itself reveals patterns and commonalities that perhaps may not be obvious to the layman, and are refreshingly re-assuring to others, like myself, who operate within this field. Some of these commonalities such as encounters with the sounds of air conditioning systems, heating systems, refrigerators etc in formative years are deeply interesting, as they become the catalyst for experiments in later life for many of these artists, and indicate a predisposition to the more cerebral and marginalised elements of contemporary culture.
The majority of these artists also appear to be operating in relative isolation with respect to local music scenes and the art establishment, and it is only via the internet, and their respective record labels that they have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and audience alike. Other common themes appear to be that many of these artists are also deeply interested in nature, and natural systems; they also have great sensitivity to the visual arts (many also being visual artists as well). Recurring themes also appear to be Kraftwerk, Burroughs, Cage, Eno, all in themselves highly revealing as sources and origins of inspiration, as very few of these influences are inherently “minimal” in their approach.
I have deliberately not singled out any one artist for scrutiny here, preferring to deal with EXTRACT as a product to be dealt with holistically. From a purely subjective point of view, the strength of this book lies in it’s position of defining minimalism not only as a musical/sonic genre, but as a microcosmic social network, a spiritual economy based upon the communal exchange of information, goods, and most importantly, ideas. The selection of artists in the spotlight in this publication is by no means exhaustive, and prominent figures such as Chartier and Deupree, Tietchens, Günter, Steinbrüchel, Roden, are positioned alongside relative newcomers such as Dale Lloyd, Tomas Philips, Michael Vorfeld for example. This in turn presents a wider spectrum of possibility for those interested in pursuing the work of all of these artists, and in a wider sense, stimulating interest in minimalism in general. The CD’s enlcosed within the end papers of the book will surely emerge as a “who’s who” of the genre, very much in the way that Selektion’s “Tulpas” did in the 90’s, and will be reviewed here at some later point.
EXTRACT itself is a relatively quick read (I did it in under an hour), but it’s influence, and implications will remain with me, and others for many years, I am certain. An absolutely essential insight for anyone interested in minimalism.
(bgn, white line)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Nicola Catlalano, blow up

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

In solo due anni d’esistenza e poco più di una decina di produzioni la Nonvisualobjects di Heribert Friedl e Raphael Moser si candida ad un ruolo di primo piano nell’ambito internazionale della sound art. E l’uscita più recente a diventare uno di punti di riferimento imprescindibili per tutti gli appassionati del settore. Esempi di parziale catalogazione dell’universo della sound art con tendenze microsoniche sono già stati tentati in passato, si pensi alle compilation della serie “Lowercase”, ai due volumi della 12k “Between Two Points” e “Two Point Two” o in un ambito più specifico alla collana “Clicks & Cuts” o, ancor meglio, ai volumi con CD “Site Of Sound: Of Architecture And The Ear” della Errant Bodies Press e “Sound Art – Sound As Media” della NTT Publishing Co. Proprio a queste ultime due pubblicazioni può essere accostato “Extract – Portraits of Soundartists”, benché rispetto ad esse risponda ad un approccio meno teorico e sistematico. Si tratta per lo più di istantanee di singoli autori condotte col metodo semplice e pratico dell’intervista, oppure attraverso note autobiografiche, diari, disegni, fotografie, riflessioni estemporanee (in pratica l’aspetto teorico dell’operare di ciascuno viene fuori in maniera più sottile, meno diretta, andando a comporre un quadro d’insieme in maniera piuttosto obliqua). Ventidue gli artisti selezionati con criterio personalissimo ma tutto sommato aderente allo stato delle cose (ovvio che non si possa pretendere completezza enciclopedica), ognuno dei quali presente anche con una traccia altrimenti inedita. Poche le sorprese e pochi i nomi relativamente nuovi (Richard Garet, Andy Graydon, Ubeboet, I8UŠ), con una scaletta che si concentra sulle grandi firme. Poche purtroppo anche le sorprese sotto il profilo puramente estetico, sia formale sia di contenuti, dacché ormai il tipo di ricerca cui si assiste concede poco spazio all’inaspettato e alla soddisfazione uditiva, con l’eterna dicotomia tra chi riesce a cavare dalle proprie manie private qualche emozione che valga la pena comunicare anche a noialtri (Keith Berry, Richard Chartier, Taylor Deupree, Dean King, Dale Lloyd, Tomas Phillips, Steve Roden, Steinbrüchel, Nao Sugimoto, tanto per dire) e chi, con varie sfumature ed attenuanti, rimane chiuso nella sterile torre d’avorio della sperimentazione fine a se stessa (più o meno tutti gli altri). Palese manifestazione di cul de sac o, come si diceva all’inizio, manuale indispensabile (spesso, del resto, il quadro finale è superiore alla somma delle singole parti) è dubbio che lasciamo volentieri sbrogliare al lettore.
(nicola catlalano, blow up)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Tobias Fischer, tokafi

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

Intensifies the brain’s hunger for information and input: A fascinating read and listen throughout.

In rock, everything is personal. In soundart, it seems, nothing is. That is why a project like “Extract” is much more than just a nicely layouted book with two CDs packed with music. It is a tangible result from the conclusion that our understanding of art can benefit from the knowledge of the composer’s personal history – and that the genre as a whole has the potential to be appreciated by a much larger audience if it allows itself to open up. That’s no buy-out, mind you, but the simple realisation that by its very nature, soundart will always have a certain disadvantage: While crunching guitars, dazzling drums, gripping vocals and the ebb and flow of verse and chorus are mainly self-referential and an effort to offer one’s own ego as a projection screen for others, the attempt to understand the world around us through its audible emissions is of a much more subtle nature. In fact, where the music is firmly placed first, the performer naturally steps back, turning all but invisible in the service of the composition. The functional and mostly faceless aesthetics of the genre have made it doubly hard for experimental works to compete with the bright lights of popular culture in the media. This is where “Extract” steps in.

A hole in the ground: Twenty-two biographies

Twentytwo artists have followed the invitation of Heribert Friedl and Raphael Moser, the masterminds behind the Nonvisual Objects label and contributed music, visuals as well as text to the book. Twentytwo entirely different biographies and twentytwo unique views on sound have resulted in twentytwo short but vivid introductions to their work and their life.The nature of these contributions is highly diverse. Friedl and Moser have set up a basic interview with questions on the background of the musicians, their influences, their methods and their stance on collaborating with similar-minded colleagues. While a large chunk of the “Extract” line-up is presented through their answers to this questionnaire, others have chosen idiosyncratic approaches. Keith Berry tells a story from his childhood and how the mysteriously beckoning drone of a “monster of a heating system” in his parent’s house would hold a deep and inexplicable fascination. 12k founder Taylor Deupree fills his four pages with small snapshots of a Japan-tour which, as he points out, “may mean a great deal to some, sparking memories and stories, or may mean nothing to others”. Dutch Roel Meelkop is represented by a short piece of prose entitled “Another piece of general fiction or how I came to be a sound artist” (a hole in his garden apparently played an important role), while seminal American visual artist and composer Steve Roden has scanned entries from his “work diary”, which go from scetched drawings of bagpipes to thoughts on the importance of calligraphy in Zen. Parts are intellectual and require repeated perusal – such as Richard Chartier’s detailed and precise description of his technique and intentions. Others come in the form of personal reflections, such as I8U’s France Jobin looking back on her early days as a sound explorer: “Being a difficult child, it didn’t take long for my parents to realize they could keep me quiet and out of trouble by placing me in between two speakers.” It’s a fascinating read throughout.

Minimalism is the main criterium: Two and a half hours of music

The music is equally eclectic. Miguel A. Tolosa, who runs the Con-V netlabel and operates under the name of Ubeboet, has called this the release of the year and the two and a half hours of material certainly allow for this kind of superlative. From his own sacral choir ambiances to Friedl’s minute incisions and crackles, from Bernhard Günter’s urban field recordings to Steinbrüchel’s perfect drone pulses, this collection offers a plenitude of moods, ideas, approaches and philosophies. Friedl and Moser talk about a network which has formed thanks to interactions between artists all over the world, whose categories for inclusion are very much open: Minimalism is the main criterium, other than that the spectrum and the scope of “Extract” are wide and all-embracing. Nao Sugimoto drove to the outskirts of Tokyo, placed a speaker next to his car, put on a playback of a prerecorded acoustic guitar piece and taped it from a sizeable distance. Jos Smolders meanwhile, withdrew into the solitude and comfort of a grandfather clock ticking in an infinitely condensed space. Some of the harmonic and “musical” tracks reveal their analytical origins, while many of the purely sound-focused pieces take on a hauntingly emotional meaning: The music seems to speak to the listener in a very direct way. “Perhaps the appeal of minimal art”, Tomas Phillips writes, “is that it provides a very particular bridge between self and other, one that meets the artist’s needs to contribute to a community, whilst allowing the listener/reader/viewer space in which to offer his or her own experience to a “collaborative” project”.

That’s not only an excellent observation in relation to the arts in general, but to “Extract” in particular as well. While the common train of thought has been that the cold design of the scene has served to spark the imagination of the listener, forcing him to make his own picture of the composer, this book proves this theory wrong. The more one finds out about the personalities behind the music, the more one is able to appreciate the nuances of their oeuvre, the differences between similar results and the analogies between starkly contrasting contributions. The wealth of information “Extract” offers does not set the brain to rest, but only goes to intensify and increase its hunger for information and more input. Many of the artists talk about how they felt like outlaws during their school time for preferring “the sound of tires rolling over snow” above crunching guitars, dazzling drums, gripping vocals and the ebb and flow of verse and chorus – I am thoroughly convinced that if this book became part of the curriculum, many more would feel the same. Not everything in soundart is personal. But much more than anyone previously thought possible certainly is.
(tobias fischer, tokafi)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Mike Oliver, smallfish

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

Non Visual Objects is one of those labels that comes with something of a guarantee of quality with every release. With works from Steve Roden, Richard Chartier, Roel Meelkop, Tomas Phillips and Dean King and label co-owner Heribert Friedl, you can expect a certain level of presentation and sound that always pleases. This book is the logical extension, then, for a label that’s incredibly aesthetic and Extract really does make for a comelling read an, indeed, listen. A series of interviews and articles on the artists involved in the CDs that accompany the book, it looks in depth at techniques, motivations and the history of these artists. It’s all in black and white which rather suits the minimalist ethos of the label and is designed with great care and attention as well as being hard bound. Musically, the range on offer here is wonderful and artists such as Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Bernhard Gunter, Nao Sugimoto (aka Mondii), Keith Berry, Dale Llyod, Will Montgomery, Steinbruchel, Jos Smolders, Steve Roden, John Hudak and more all contribute excellent works of sonic art. I could waffle on about this for hours if I had the space, but for now all I’ll say is that if you have any interest in this contemporary minimalist style of music you’ll find this to be a really exciting release indeed. Highly recommended.
(mike oliver, smallfish)

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)

Review – Extract, Portrait of Soundartists(nvo) 2007 – by Brian Marley, the wire

EXTRACT (2CD + book by Non Visual Objects)

As sound editing software has become ever more widely available, the number of artists working with sound has increased exponentially. Networks of artists who may live thousands of miles apart, and perhaps never meet except in the virtual realm, have become commonplace. One such network of electroacoustic artists is based in and around Nonvisualobjects, the Vienna-based label inaugurated by Raphael Moser and Heribert Friedl some two years ago, and Extract provides some of its participants with an opportunity to explain a number of things, including: what it is they do, why they do it, what musics and sounds have influenced them, what it is they value in art, what value their art (if indeed it is art) is to themselves and to society, and whether the sound pieces they make constitute music.
Because sound is often only one of the materials these artists work with, the editors have encouraged them to present other aspects of what they do. The chapters are, as they put it, collage-like and open to interpretation. There’s a tendency therefore to present information somewhat obliquely, as John Hudak does through a series of crudely hand-drawn self-portraits, which he considers analogous to the way he makes music. Roel Meelkop’s entry consists of a short piece of autobiographical fiction that wryly purports to explain how he became a sound artist. Bernhard Günter highlights a non-musical aspect of his work – his ‘photo walks’, illustrated by five of his highly abstract photographs – though he declares there’s no real distinction for him between audio and visual: “It . . . doesn’t make an essential difference whether I handle a sound sample in a digital recording system, an instrument in my hands, or a camera in front of my eye: my success or failure will always depend on my being able to enter the right state of mind”. Taylor Deupree emphasises one of the major themes that runs through the book, the importance of social networks, by presenting a visual diary consisting of 69 small photographs, taken during the four trips he made to Japan between 2003-05, almost all of which are snapshots of friends and colleagues in informal situations, only a fat handful of which are of performances or were taken at concert venues. It should perhaps be mentioned at this juncture that all of the visual illustrations in the book are monochrome, and of lower resolution than one might have wished for, but otherwise production values are high.
Needless to say, the reasons these sound artists give for making the work they do are as varied as the work itself. Sometimes it comes down to feeling uncomfortable playing traditional instruments, especially as children; or other influences creep in that won’t reconcile themselves with the music they hear around them. Keith Berry, for example, writes of the hot water tank in his childhood bedroom that fed the house’s central heating system, the noises of which fascinated him, and he helpfully includes a photograph of the water tank in question so we can see what he heard. Of present day influences, less is said; or perhaps it’s truer to say that what’s said is less revealing. Jos Smolders points up a particular dilemma in this regard: “Since the existence of the internet, the scope of what we can choose from is so wide that nothing can be outstanding. And if something does, for a moment, then immediately there are at least 100 others copying it, thereby obliterating the original”. He concludes, feelingly, “So, maybe it sounds a bit presumptuous, but I really haven’t a clue about my present day influences”.
Smolders may feel dispirited about the lack of outstanding work he gets to hear, but the two CDs of sound material that accompany the book don’t bear this out. Each of the 22 contributors has supplied a piece of sound/music, including (of those yet to be mentioned) Steve Roden, Ubeboet, Richard Garet, I8U, Asmus Tietchens, Richard Chartier, Will Montgomery, Steinbrüchel, Dean King, Heribert Friedl, Andy Graydon, Michael Vorfeld, Nao Sugimoto, Tomas Phillips, Dale Lloyd and Toshiya Tsunoda. Some of the pieces are, as the book’s title suggests, extracts from longer works (and, if not, one could argue they’re extracts from a lifetime’s work), none of which tops the nine minute mark. The most striking pieces, to my mind, are those by Graydon, Tsunoda, Berry, Smolders, Montgomery, Vorfeld and Tietchens. It’s perhaps inevitable that once all the texts have been read, the best reason for returning to this volume will be to listen to the CDs, but the book is nonetheless a valuable and extremely welcome resource.
(brian marley, the wire # 284)