TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT April 2022

TOP TEN

LEA BERTUCCI

Lea Bertucci is a New York City–based sound artist and composer whose work bridges performance, installation, and multichannel activations of acoustic space. Murmurations, her collaboration with Ben Vida, is out this month on Cibachrome Editions.

  1. ERNST KAREL & VERONIKA KUSUMARYATI, EXPEDITION CONTENT (2020)

    Coming out of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, this “nearly imageless” film consists of audio recordings from Michael Rockefeller’s doomed expedition to West Papua in 1961. With the exception of some cleverly placed blue frames followed by text, the film allows sound to take the primary role. Karel and Kusumaryati collage compelling field recordings of the dense Papuan jungle, Rockefeller’s voice, and encounters with the Hubula people into 5.1 surround sound, proving that lush and descriptive audio can easily evoke times and places one has never visited.

    Ernst Karel and Veronika Kusumaryati, Expedition Content, 2020, digital video, color, sound, 78 minutes. Ernst Karel and Veronika Kusumaryati, Expedition Content, 2020, digital video, color, sound, 78 minutes.
  2. JENNIFER LUCY ALLAN, THE FOGHORN’S LAMENT: THE DISAPPEARING MUSIC OF THE COAST (WHITE RABBIT, 2021)

    This fascinating new book revels in the rich, folklore-steeped history of foghorns, the nineteenth century’s pre-radar warning system for ships at sea. Allan examines the contemporary aesthetics of loudness through the lens of colonial history, questioning what constitutes our sonic environment and revealing these obsolete industrial objects’ multifaceted relationships to sound art and experimental and club music.

    Cover of the 2022 edition of Jennifer Lucy Allan’s The Foghorn’s Lament: The Disappearing Music of the Coast (White Rabbit, 2021). Cover of the 2022 edition of Jennifer Lucy Allan’s The Foghorn’s Lament: The Disappearing Music of the Coast (White Rabbit, 2021).
  3. SOUND AMERICAN NO. 26, THE OCCAM OCEAN ISSUE

    The compositions for (mostly) acoustic instruments that make up Éliane Radigue’s “Occam Ocean” constitute an ever-growing body of music developed in a collaborative fashion that dissolves the usual roles of composer and interpreter. This issue of Sound American presents a deep dive into the Occam by some of its performers, whose essays shed light on the complex processes and spiritual experience of working with one of today’s master composers.

  4. MARJA AHTI, THE CURRENT INSIDE (HALLOW GROUND, 2020)

    Recently rediscovering the work of Swedish-Finnish composer Marja Ahti has been a real treat. The Current Inside blends modular synthesis with field recordings, vocals, and the sounds of resonant objects to examine the ebbs and flows of air, water, and electricity. With her well-paced and thorough meditation on these elemental forces, Ahti emerges as a singular and thoughtful voice in contemporary experimental music.

    Marja Ahti, Sintra, Portugal, 2015. Photo: Niko-Matti Ahti. Marja Ahti, Sintra, Portugal, 2015. Photo: Niko-Matti Ahti.
  5. DAN SHUTT, WASHED BY THE MOON (2018)

    The southern Albanian Kënga Labe practice of iso-polyphonic singing is responsible for some of the most unique vocal music in the world. This beautifully shot documentary features different generations of singers who continue this tradition of group singing. I particularly appreciate how Shutt allows his subjects to speak for themselves about the political situation in Albania in relation to post-Communist attitudes toward traditional music.

    Dan Shutt, Washed by the Moon, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 55 minutes 37 seconds. Dan Shutt, Washed by the Moon, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 55 minutes 37 seconds.
  6. RITUAL MOUTH-ORGANS OF THE MURUNG (MAISON DES CULTURES DU MONDE, 1998)

    In the lush foothills of the Chittagong plain in Bangladesh live the Murung peoples, whose psychedelic orchestras of plung mouth organs make a music that is a cut above that of the rhythmic Minimalists of the ’60s. While these absolutely wild recordings recall Terry Riley at his peak, they stem from thousands of years of tradition and are woven into the fabric of their performers’ ritual lives. The overlapping and interlocking notes move into free-flowing sections to create an ever-changing music of pattern and repetition.

    Murung orchestra performing with mouth organs at the Theater of the French Alliance, Paris, March 10, 1997. Photo: Isabelle Montané/Maison des Cultures du Monde. Murung orchestra performing with mouth organs at the Theater of the French Alliance, Paris, March 10, 1997. Photo: Isabelle Montané/Maison des Cultures du Monde.
  7. WHISPERING GALLERIES

    In certain conditions, sound has the ability to move and transform in fascinating ways. The acoustic phenomenon known as a “whispering gallery” is an exemplary instance of the collision of architecture and sound. A circular, hemispherical, or ellipsoidal enclosure with hard surfaces will effectively throw sound across an archway, allowing semi-discreet communication between people and producing remarkable echo effects. New York City is home to a number of such sites, the most famous of them being the four-sided archway right outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar.<span class=“Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Whispering gallery, Grand Central Terminal, New York, October 2015. Photo: Edd Westmacott/Alamy. Whispering gallery, Grand Central Terminal, New York, October 2015. Photo: Edd Westmacott/Alamy.
  8. INPATIENT PRESS

    Mitch Anzuoni’s eclectic and promiscuous Inpatient Press acts as a collecting bin for obscure smut, adventurous contemporary poetry, political minefields, and possible mind-control technologies, to name just a few of his fascinations. Without a doubt one of the most rigorous and interesting small presses operating today, Inpatient has published work by the likes of Samuel Delany, Rin Johnson, and Peggy Ahwesh. Besides providing new translations of previously unavailable texts, Anzuoni amalgamates the flotsam and jetsam of printed material by reissuing cult newspapers and patents for neurotechnology devices.

    Cover of Peggy Ahwesh&#8217;s The Films of Doris Wishman (Inpatient Press and Light Industry, 2019). Cover of Peggy Ahwesh’s The Films of Doris Wishman (Inpatient Press and Light Industry, 2019).
  9. EARLY GIRLS VOLS. 1–5 (ACE, 1995–2008)

    During these rough times, one sometimes needs a dose of saccharine goodness to lift the spirits. Listening to this five-volume compilation of girl groups from the ’60s is like injecting candy directly into one’s veins. Early B-studio production attempts at a Spector-like Wall of Sound give these songs a deliciously washed-out quality, evoking images of girls lamenting their crushes and teenage fantasies directly into a rushing storm drain.

     The Charmaines, ca. 1960s. Featured on Early Girls, Vol. 3 (Ace, 2000). The Charmaines, ca. 1960s. Featured on Early Girls, Vol. 3 (Ace, 2000).
  10. OKKYUNG LEE, YEO-NEUN (SHELTER PRESS, 2020)

    Yeo-Neun is a highlight in the career of one of our most forward-thinking cellists and composers. It is rare and profound when an artist smashes the listener’s expectations and forges into new territory rather than relying on familiar expressive modes. With Yeo-Neun, Lee looks to the popular and traditional music of her birth country, South Korea, to devise a suite of compositions for strings and piano that crystallize into fragile, melodic odes to spaciousness and vulnerability.

     Okkyung Lee performing at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK, 2018. Photo: Nigel Bates. Okkyung Lee performing at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK, 2018. Photo: Nigel Bates.