Ellen Band

90% Post Consumer Sound

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On 90% Post Consumer Sound, sound artist Ellen Band gathered five of her works. Her fascination with everyday sounds translates into middle-range pieces (eight to 20 minutes) somewhere between field recording and musique concrète. Her sound sources are "real" and she does not hide their origins by processing them extensively but, on the contrary, plays on them, arranging her own sound sculptures from these shards of material. "Railroad Gamelan" is the most satisfying piece, an assemblage of railroad sounds turning into a virtual ensemble -- and yes, it does sound like a gamelan piece. "Swinging Sings" uses two violins to simulate squeaky swings. "Radiatore" focuses on a radiator (you probably already guessed it). It is quite a strong piece, reaching high levels of complexity. "Closet Bird" is the oldest piece of the set (1976) -- a nice, if not very original, "bird symphony." "Minimally Tough," a binaural recording, has performers crumpling paper (or something similar) for 11 minutes -- long, very long. Ellen Band's approach is reminiscent of John Cage and his followers' research on banal domestic noise. It is refreshing as a concept in these turn-of-the-millennium days of laptop-generated live electro-acoustics, but of limited interest when faced with the results. Still, the poetry inhabiting "Railroad Gamelan" deserves to be heard.

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