Live on Sonarchy Radio

The Phonographers Union

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Live on Sonarchy Radio Review

by François Couture

This is a beautiful, mesmerizing, highly poetic album. The Phonographers Union -- in this incarnation -- consists of nine artists from the West Coast community of field recordists and phonographers. The best-known names here are Christopher DeLaurenti (his electro-acoustic works), Marc Fernandes (his Accretions label), and Dale Lloyd (his website and his genre-defining compilation albums). On April 12, 2003, the nine artists were gathered around a few tables in a Seattle studio and asked to perform two half-hour pieces for a radio broadcast. Each musician is armed with either a CD player, mini-disc, sampler, or other playback devices, and banks of field recordings covering all aspects of nature and human life -- from wind to children, machines to birds, busy streets to water, sports to music. With an acute sense of listening, the artists are combining their recordings (not mere sounds but chunks of space, as the microphone picks up more than just a birdsong or a creaking floor), creating a gripping aural symphony where the listener is left free of linking sounds together or imagining scenes that would accommodate all the sounds heard at one particular moment. More free-form and easy-flowing than musique concrète and much more concrete than experimental electronica, this music speaks to the mind and the soul, as some of these sounds are very familiar, but their combinations evoke surreal situations. Since there are too many details, too many events to possibly absorb and remember everything in one sitting, each listen provides a different experience. And even people usually closed to avant-garde music will be able to sense the poetry and the immediacy of this album. Highly recommended as a key statement in the development of "field recording" or "phonography" as a form of sound art.

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