John Duncan

Phantom Broadcast

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AllMusic Review by

In sound art, there often is a discrepancy -- intentional or not -- between what the artist explains and what the listener hears. In many cases, there resides the main interest of a work. Phantom Broadcast follows that path. John Duncan reveals in the press release that the piece consists of a single shortwave transmission, recorded and processed with minimal modifications. Surfing the shortwave band, you can hear an amazing range of broadcasts and utterly strange sounds between frequencies. Yet, what goes on in "Phantom Broadcast" is difficult to associate with the shortwave realm. First, the piece sounds completely clean, not at all like a received signal. Second, its persistent soft drones and slow-changing textures, as beautiful and striking as they can be, don't relate to the world of radio. Duncan may have filtered out more of the original signal than he discloses, in order to reveal these sounds -- a bit like Konstantin Raudive used to filter and amplify radio signals as he looked for the voices of the dead. The piece sounds closer to the works of Carl Michael Von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren (who do like to dress up their works in hoax concepts) than to a transmission, but in the end all that matters little. The piece works. Its shimmering textures and gently fading drones inhabit the room when played back on loudspeakers, enrapturing the listener. It is not as strong and unforgettable a feeling as with Palace of Mind, but still worth investigating.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 47:10
blue highlight denotes track pick