Sun-Kissed MP3

One of the beautiful things about electronic music that’s derived from conceptual art is that it provides its own readymade metaphors. In other words, in the absence of traditional musical form, we have the musician’s m.o. to lend sense to something that is otherwise abstract. Case in point, Retina Burn, the new, half-hour long piece by Andrea Polli, available as of last month as a free download from the Stasisfield netlabel. Polli’s work — 27-plus minutes of low-level interference and broken whirs — takes as its source “soundwaves generated by the sun.” Polli then manipulates this sonic information, transforming it with what she’s termed “intuitive ocusonics,” or computer-aided musical interfaces that track eye movement. Why does she choose to shape the sound with her eyes, and not with fingers on a keyboard, or on a six-string? Conceptually, Polli’s point is self-apparent: by manipulating sound from the sun with her eyes, she’s doing what we otherwise must not, which is to look directly at the sun. What’s interesting, though, is that the resulting sound art, as heard on the overtly slow Retina Burn, doesn’t suggest the scorching, brilliant center of our solar system (although the crackles do bring it to mind) so much as it sounds like data being processed meticulously in the name of science: pristine data sets published for peer evaluation. The Stasisfield label’s sixth release this year, Retina Burn is available here. More on New York-based musician Polli at her webpage, here.

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