Books, books, books

I thought it time to talk about some of the books I have been reading recently, firstly ‘The Fundamentals of Sonic Art & Sound Design’ by Tony Gibbs (published 2007), leader of BA Sonic Arts at Middlesex University.

This is a really concise and easy-to-read primer that’s actually quite inspirational in its gentle collation of sonic art history and curation of contemporary practitioners and students. I have been exposed to much of the contents through previous studies and even to some of the individuals mentioned through direct contact.
One inspirational points for me is thinking about the importance of performance in sonic art and how this relates to many of the projects I have been involved in to date. I can also relate it directly to the project I am currently working on in terms of ‘playing’ a field of sound through a specifically devised system. Gibbs writes about the role of the ‘diffusor’ as an artist in his/her own right who usually, but not always, is the composer too.

Another book that has been keeping me turning the pages of late is ‘ocean of sound, aether talk, ambient sounds and imaginary worlds’ by David Toop (originally published 1995).

Among other fascinating fly-on-the-wall observations of modern music culture, Toop writes about the birth of an electronic ambient music scene in UK and Dutch clubs in the early 90’s and the symbiosis that existed between this form and the high-energy electronic dance music that was often played under the same roof at the same time. He mentions a number of notable ambient-only events that were held at the Brixton Cooltan Arts Centre in 1993 under the name of ‘Telepathic Fish’. I was lucky enough to live locally at the time and when I dropped by to one of these nights, was mightily pleased to see and hear the huge bass bins normally reserved for big dance parties rattling away with the hum of electronic ambience. This experience actually had a profound effect upon me as it made me think about ambient music in a much more visceral and physical way. Listening to long, slowly modulating bass sounds played through large speakers with particular harmonic overtones causing rattle and vibration is a very inspirational experience if you like that sort of thing.

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