When Touch Ringtones was released, it was still impossible for mobile phone users to install their own ring tones in the devices (even though the manufacturing companies offered a certain number of choices, all quite bland). The British Touch label asked a large number of artists from the sound art/experimental music community to create custom ring tones for whenever it would be possible to use them. This CD proposes over one hundred possibilities -- there are 99 tracks, but some contain more than one ring tone. From warped phone bells to clever jokes and complete five-second sound art pieces, Touch Ringtones is an homage to conciseness and public annoyance. Participating artists include Ryoji Ikeda, Hazard, Carsten Nicolai, Phill Niblock, Pan Sonic's Mika Vainio, and Oren Ambarchi, among many others. Free improv saxophonist Evan Parker also submits a circular-breathing tone and animal recordings from Chris Watson and Doug Quinn's libraries widen the scope of possibilities. The problem: As an album, its interest remains pretty limited. Sure, it is fun to hear what each person came up with, but once you have listened to it once, you will probably only take it out to show off to friends -- while you wait for the time you can actually use it, that is. The bottom line: Touch Ringtones should be seen as an artistic gesture by itself, conceptual art if you will.
Touch Ringtones Review
by François Couture