Long Overdue Part 12

Here’s one Bryan Lewis Saunders tape I overlooked, despite my best efforts to achieve comprehensive coverage of his Stream Of Unconscious series. The idea was for other sound artists to interpret and rework the dream diaries of this singular American performance artist, who leaves cassette tapes running so he can tape himself talking in his sleep. The series was intended to be collaborative, although I don’t think there was much of a back-and-forth process involved, and once the weirdness of Saunders’ brain had leaked onto the tape, the collaborating artist was left to their own devices as to what to do next. On Volume 8, it’s the turn of Lee Gamble and CM von Hausswolff.

Lee Gamble is a significant player in the field of abstract electronics, and he seems to have got to this point through the dancefloor route; I’m surprised we haven’t received or reviewed any records by this fellow. On his side of the tape, titled ‘Identity Technology’, he has done something quite ingenious with the tapes supplied to him by Bryan, using “voice re-synthesis and manipulations”, and some technology used for identity recognition. At least, that’s how I choose to interpret the cryptic credit notes printed here. At one level it may have involved a serious “deconstruction” of sound files and software, subverting the intended purposes of both, and creating a fascinating and rich noise of digital glitchery thereby. At another level, there’s an intended critique of surveillance techniques and voice-recognition software, implying subtly that Bryan Lewis Saunders is an enemy of the state who must be monitored and analysed by the authorities, even while he is asleep. The above is pure speculation on my part, but I think one or two of my random arrows may have hit the mark.

CM von Hausswolff is the Swedish maestro whose chilling ice-cold drones and process emanations have been unsettling the world (and me) since 1980. I usually associate his work with places, locations, and buildings, rather than people, so it’s uncharacteristic of him perhaps to get involved with something so intimately connected with human beings and the human voice (notwithstanding the recent effort with Leslie Winer). Under the heading N2 Collection, he turns in two pieces, enigmatically titled ‘(10c/s)’ and ‘(12c/s)’, and dedicates the results to the Association for Neuroaesthetics in Berlin. Unlike Lee Gamble, he doesn’t appear to have reworked the voice material at all, but simply overlays portions of it on top of another recording, a distracting and maddening noise that resembles a geiger counter going insane, or a piece of plastic film trapped inside a rotating blender. A less appropriate sound for a “sleep” themed record you could not imagine. Incredible tension results, but then tension is what I have come to expect from the work of this uncompromising fellow. It’s as though he’s somehow x-raying the mind of Saunders, which continues to putter away on overdrive even while he’s asleep.

In all, this is one of the better entries in the series, with its vaguely paranoid tone and dark undertones, so I feel bad for leaving it ignored for so long. Arrived here 25 June 2012.

Previous releases in the series noted here, here, and here.