ninplant on Sun, 31 Jan 1999 02:11:44 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> U / Radio & Aural Destabilization [3]

     [extracted/converted/etc. by moderators for <nettime>;
      this is the third of four short texts]

Radio & Aural Destabilization

Some words are sampled from my "Subworld Dubafarianism:
Intersecting Exterior & Interior Disturbance," "Seamless
Sound / Consumerless Music" "Toward An Aqueous Subworld" and
"Will There Be Yodeling In Heaven" (thanks to DJs Black
Sifichi & PanouPanou in Paris)

by bart plantenga

1. Exploring the Disorienting & Inspiring Openness

I had a radio show on pirate Radio Patapoe that used to be
located in the Silo, a giant fortress-like, reinhabited and
now again deinhabited granary silo, squatted by artists and
punks. It housed studios, a cafe, performance space, a radio
station, and still looms Medieval and ominous along the
River Ij in an industrial strip in Amsterdam's north. [It's
now in the latter stages of being renovated/colonized.]

Enter the metal door and you climb 5 flights up rickety,
rusty, taped-up steps in the musty cavernous shaft. I think
ofVertigo's belltower scenes--David Toop thinks "metal phase
echoes of footsteps moving along an alleyway, wind in
drainpipes..." Unlock the padlock, enter the studio, notice
every horizontal surface is covered with beer bottles, empty
dolmens that mark the passage of (festive) times experienced

This is "a Sound-House where we practice and demonstrate all
sounds and their generation..." as Sir Francis Bacon
presciently described it in 1624; the equipment basically
held together with hope and duct tape. Some things work: 1
of 2 turntables, 2 of 4 tapedecks, 1 of 2 CD players--but
which? One deck eats a tape right away. You sit down, uncap
a beer, put in another tape and let it unwind, and gaze out
the window--the tape's a rehash of an old NY radio show I
have handed you, only with a new spin--Queen Juliana
speeches on turntable 2 slowed down, spinning backwards,
mixing out of Glenn Branca's "The World Upside Down" mixing
into ocean surf which fuses with Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking
of the Titanic." Outside below we gaze at "Het Steenen
Hoofd", "The Stone Heads," a configuration of old concrete
pillars of a pier long ago removed, now appropriated as an
official preserve of "art" poking up out of the cold Ij.
Effectively marking the decline of another time. Time has
always been in decline. It is now time to put it in REcline.

We hear Urban Sax' "Fractions Sur Le Temps Dans L'Eau", the
Hafler Trio's "Fuck", as we enter a subworld of shared
frequencies where ghosts of distant voices are heard through
headphones. Where we can't tell what noises are actual and
which are manufactured. Or, as Toop described the group
KLF's great samplodelic symphony, Chill Out, "tuned in to
organic and synthetic rhythms normally inaudible to the
human ear without radio receivers, hydrophones, parabolic
sound reflectors, satellite listening
roaring across the soundfield...waves on the seashore..."

The subworld is the aural nether where these sounds grumble
along below sea level, snugly hugging the contours of
territory with great spectral and counterfrictional
lassitude, beyond "economies of desire," below fetishized
thresholds of pain, near the edge of all audibility. Where
its signature sound (pungent alloy of ephemeral noise, TV
ghosts, found sound, archival musics, distended metarhythms,
nomadic radio frequencies, hidden currents, mind-altering
echo, natural ambience, auto-piloted composition,
psychodynamic mood enhancement, and disembodied voices),
rumbles along at the somnabulatory frequency of 30 hertz
neither coming nor going. Like a dense and spacious iceberg,
scraping across a parking lot, immersive musics such as dub
produces large vibrations in objects.

Unlike concert halls, cinemas, video arcades, street theatre
or sports, radio goes anywhere, everyday--flexible, nomadic,
proletarian, wallpaper, subliminal. This is why I like it.
It is neither here nor there. It's precise location is
secret or undivulged or unimportant. Radio precedes your
arrival and prepares your environment as ubiquitous,
prescient and subconscious soundtrack of life. Radio is
everywhere and yet, radio is nothing.

Lucky then, for the pirates, independents, and community
radio stations where sound still flourishes, as sacred fun
despite the efforts by governments in the employ of chambers
of commerce to de-louse and eliminate diversity, let's call
it slooping or demolishing the ether. I'm thinking of
Patapoe and Radio 100 both threatened by new Jorritsma
genuflections toward the wonderful world of global commerce,
but also KSAN in California fined thousands of dollars for
broadcasting Allen Ginsberg's Howl, WFMU in NY and Radio
Libertaire in Paris. Even if they are sometimes mere
figments of someone's imaginary hopes they will continue to
threaten to exist. Amazing then how little of sonic interest
fills the ether. There is a lot of bad radio. This is of
course, part of a greater mystery--why are so many of us
content with bad music. We don't tolerate bad shoes, bad
food or bad lovers but we tolerate bad radio. It's as if
creativity is the enemy of commerce--maybe it is, and maybe
they are rightfully worried.

This substratum's sonic squatters, remain behind their
turntables, human prostheses of sonic mindscapes, in the
dark; lit only by constellations of L.E.D. pinpoints strung
across mixing boards. Here they manage to evade many of the
prefabricated pitfalls of fame, the knick of the knack of
product endorsement, the standard "fandemonious"
infantilization of stars, the vectors of conventional power.
These ether and "psychic nomads" act upon what Doris Lessing
called "divine discontent," preferring to subsume ego in the
meaningful patterns found in noise.

The name of my radio show has been "Wreck This Mess" since
1988. "Wreck" means causing the ruin of any
structure--iconoclasm. "This mess" means the inner ear
reshaped by the marketplace. Consumption aesthetics,
aesthetic consumption. WTM is meant as an abstract explosion
inside utilitarian traffic-weather-blabla radio. WTM is a
strategy of contrary seamlessness--against time without
pleasure, labor without meaning, menace without fun; no
talk, no breaks, no commercials, sports, announcements,
weather, time, news, gossip, playlists--unclog the aural and
imaginal pathways. Prodigal uninterrupted sonic voyages,
where one sound integrates with another, a daisy chain of
overlapping instants, conversing, collaging, mutating.
Seamlessness derationalizes song as passive product--music
becomes more of what it is. And anonymity becomes a
signature, absence an obverse presence--wallpaper becomes
wall, wall becomes structure. Does it always work--No!

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