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Art Music for Effete Canines

It’s hard to know what some deep-pocketed audiophiles might make of freq_out, a compilation on Ash International Records of art music seemingly crafted for effete dogs — high-pitched experimental music that was commissioned for, in the immortal phrase of songwriter Gus Kahn, high-tone places. The set’s 12 original tracks feature upper-register sound sculptures by a broad range of contributors (there’s also a 13th ensemble track), including J.G. Thirwell (aka Foetus), taking a break from the more pedestrian sounds of industrial rock, and Brandon LaBelle, among others. The album is an artifact of an installation at a gallery in Copenhagen from June of last year, in which artists were given frequency ranges in which to play around. The results are much more varying than one might imagine, though judging from the cacophony of Jana Winderen‘s track, it seems like someone didn’t read the instructions carefully. PerMagnus Lindborg turns in bent tones like thick wind, while LaBelle makes fun, stereophonic, pixilated funk, bouncing little beats back and forth. Thirwell, like Winderen, doesn’t seem to adhere to a particularly narrow frequency range, but the his multi-faceted track, highlighted by chugging ritual music on a miniscule scale, is worth the price of admission on its own. The remainders range from Star Trek special effects to pure immersive sound design. As for those audiophiles in question? Faced with sounds more likely dismissed as errors than readily identified as music, they’d probably freak out.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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