1981 / 1999
SIDE A _ a.j. cornell / Private Telephone 1981
SIDE B _ s* / TACLERON 1999
IO/003 — features a split collaboration of found sounds and wiretaps between s* and a.j. cornell, a two-part dissection of the overheard and the understated sources of power, from secret affairs to police surveillance. Discovering an old cassette tape in an antique dresser, a.j. cornell unravels the erotic tension between two lovers attempting to keep their politically-explosive affair under control, constructing a strangely seductive soundscape during a live radio-art performance at Montréal’s CKUT 90.3FM. Recovering long lost tapes of the N30 protests (the Battle of Seattle), s* composes a tense montage from the police scanner, combatting surveillance and arrest activities with frequency and noise manipulation. Each side presents a full immersion in overhearing behind-the-scenes banter, providing the craven ear with its own surveillance apparatus, and seducing the listener with the unheard discourses of secrecy and power, personal and public.
WILL TIME REWIND
a.j. cornell — is a sound and radio artist and improviser based in Montreal, Canada, who revels in the practice of everyday listening where the sonorities present in any given environment can be likened to an assemblage of musical instruments randomly orchestrated by its inhabitants. She makes haphazard assemblages of sounds using field recordings, metal mixing bowls, hydrophones, railway ties, singing saw, pitch shifter, glass beads, voice and whatever may be lying around; endlessly pursuing the elusive aural sharawadji. She has spent the last 5 years working at Montreal’s Radio CKUT 90.3FM where she is the Music Programming Coordinator. She has been known to use the broadcasting studio as a laboratory for boundless solo work and collaborative experimentation. [ http://andrea-janecornell.com/ ]
s* — symbolic heteronym of a force caught within gravity. IO.SOUND is its imprint.
Listening in feels far more like a violation to me than visual voyeurism. When nestled in the hollowed-out echo chamber of the phone, voices seem protected, sheltered in a wall of air, and because of this engaged in an intimacy that sounds not only stark but overblown to the point of comedy.
“So come and relax me,” says a man to a woman, after she accuses him of being uptight. He wants her to come over, “with her toys,” but not stay the night, because his “trustees,” who are coming for an early business meeting, might witness her leaving.
Later, the man explains that “there are a lot of people that would go to bed with me so that they can get special favours, and I can’t do that.” Much more funny than disturbing, listening to the ridiculous and sad power play on “Private Telephone 1981” left me feeling pretty guilty and pretty confused about the experience.
Jacques Attali wrote that “eavesdropping, censorship, recording, and surveillance are weapons of power,” and it’s hard not to feel something of an aggressor listening to the couple’s conversation on this track, as if I’m engaged in research for a manipulation – not necessarily wielding power but certainly feeling the thrill associated with it.
A different and perhaps worse form of power play — police surveillance tapes — are heard on the second track, which is a mass of locations: “in the lobby, about 20 of us here, one block from 6th avenue, one block south, protestors behind you, a small group behind us, flanking them.” The background to these transmissions is the sound of urban space: children outdoors, traffic, birds, openness and expansion — a contrast to the claustrophobic cataloguing of people and space we hear over the police radio.
There is no voyeuristic thrill in hearing police radio recordings, for me, but there is a much more horrific thrill in perceiving the jittery chaos of police behavior: one senses that their attempts to control urban space are far more anarchic than the protesters they are attempting to locate and reign in. (Valerie Uher)