LATE CAPITALIST ETHNIC SONG

A Simultaneous Poem, recorded and posted for the Spring 2016, “Geographies of Sound” course taught by Maria Sonevytsky and Olga Touloumi  at Bard College.

“If all music is ethnic music, then the ethnicity of programmed music is capitalism” says Jonathan Sterne in “Sounds Like the Mall of America.” The ethnicity of deprogrammed music is late capitalism. Sounding products are stripped of intended isolation and power and reinserted into contemporary aurality. Here they are accompanied by sounds that their affect has led to as well as other traces of industrial mechanization.
A sampling of Johan Grimoprez’s sampling of Van Mcoy’s “Do the Hustle” is digitally quantized and introduces a stream of sounds from the Geographies of Sound 2016 blog manipulated on tape. Sounds taken from the blog were primarily machine sounds, water sounds, samples of unintelligible and or indexing speech, recorded by students from Bard and Al-Quds. The sustained hum produced from what sounds like an industrial air conditioner from Palestine after its boot up is digitally looped for at two speeds for the entirety of the piece. A tape recording made using my an early version of my “Instant American Palimpsest” sculpture also accompanies the sounds from the blog.
In this instance sounds of an attempt at muzak by my roommate and I, sounds of shopping carts, coins, and cash registers are recorded onto a long loop of tape. The first tape player records the sounds produced in the room which play on a second player about 10 seconds later and are thus recorded again by the first player. The erase head on the first tape player is removed and so the sounds recorded into the tape do not replace the sounds already on it, but are magnetically super-imposed on top of them. The tape loop is made into a palimpsest holding its previous recorded content layered beneath whatever it most recently records.
This piece is in dialog with regressive listening and the production of “light music” by myself and others. It is in the vein of a music that Adorno says, “gives form to that anxiety, that terror, that insight into the catastrophic situation which others merely evade by regressing.”

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