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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Frogsong MP3

One sure contender for a best-of-2004 listing was a small album called Pond, a record constructed almost entirely from frogsong. Olivier Messiaen had his birds, Mira Calix her insects, Ross Bagdasarian his Chipmunks — and Tod Dockstader and his partner on Pond, David Lee Meyers (aka Pulsewidth and Arcane Device), have their frogs.

The record is more than a parabolic-microphone experiment; it’s a return to the commercial market for Dockstader, an influential figure whose Eight Electronic Pieces came out in 1961 on Folkways (yes, the label better known for field recordings of the rural blues variety; streaming samples here). For at least the past decade, though, Dockstader has largely been represented by reissues, including appearances on retrospective compilations on the labels Sub Rosa (An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music) and Ellipsis (Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music).

Pond reportedly resulted from correspondence between the two composers, who shared an affection for frogs (one thinks immediately of Vladimir Nabokov and his butterflies, John Cage and his mushrooms). The result ranges from swamp muck to utter abstraction. Download a full track from Pond, titled “Crepitata,” here. It’s hosted on Myers’ site (pulsewidth.com) here. More on Dockstader at dockstader.info (unofficial). And the final, year-end Disquiet.com best-of-2004 list here.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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