Tabs Out | Various Artists – Responses

Various Artists – Responses

1.7.20 by Ryan Masteller

I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do this, but credit to Matthew Atkins where credit is due: the sound artist recorded eight different household objects, manipulated the results a bit, and sent the files on to other sound artists to manipulate even further. But here’s the thing – he didn’t impose ANY rules on this project. It could have been total anarchy – he even gave his correspondents the option of discarding the recordings completely and working on something completely new, INSPIRED by the discarded recording! While we calculate the lost royalties Atkins could have recouped, we venture deep into the recesses of “Responses,” and we wonder at the mysteries of physicality contained within…

OK, that was a bit dramatic, but the point is that eight of Atkins’s contemporaries responded, which is basically why this tape is called “Responses,” clearing up some of the mystery. The results are a cornucopia of processed field recordings, remixed, reworked, re-envisioned to fit the particular respondent’s idiom. Many sound like handled and used objects, the energies of their collisions with other objects captured and presented. By John Macedo’s track, “Response 7” (track 4), we realize that something different is afoot as digital mayhem ripples through the speakers. Brigitte Hart’s “Response 2” (track 5) features as its main element a spoken poetic passage – certainly not a manipulated object (unless you consider the voicebox an object). I think we’re getting into “inspired” territory here. 

Martin Clarke’s got a trumpet or something, Phil Maguire has digital bees, and is that an actual song buried beneath Blanc Sceol’s entry? (It’s subtitled “North Song,” which is the only “response” with a subtitle – and no, it doesn’t really sound like a song.) The idea is, every track has the stamp of its collaborator on it, even though there’s a definite throughline of cohesion that circles back to Atkins’s original ideas. Though we don’t know what those recordings actually sound like, but we can certainly speculate on the family resemblance of one to the other. That’s probably the neatest trick of all on “Responses,” rules be damned.

Edition of 40 on Atkins’s own Minimal Resource Manipulation.

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