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A Radio Searching for a Signal (MP3)

Les Nostres Necessitats, the album with which the Panospria netlabel closed out 2010, is a great way to start 2011, opening, as the record does, with an extended piece whose primary sonic content is like an antiquated radio trying, madly and apparently in vain, to locate a signal over the course of its 10-plus minutes (MP3). The record, whose title translates into English as “Our Needs,” collects five tracks, all by Arnau Sala, including the gated echoes of “Processó Cap al Forat (Procession Towards the Hole)” and the fritzy static of “Mai Més (Never Again).” But the real keeper is this opening track, “Atraccions,” or “Attractions”:

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/pan052/pan052-arnau_sala-1-atraccions.mp3|titles=”Atraccions (Attractions)”|artists=Arnau Sala]

By documenting the failure to locate a substantial enough signal on which to focus, the piece shows that the process of signal-locating, that waveform-shuddering turn of the dial familiar from cross-country trips and mountain passes, is itself a signal — one whose inherent sonic properties a listener might all too easily fail to appreciate unto itself.

Get all five tracks of Les Nostres Necessitats at notype.com.

More on at Barcelona-based Sala at arnausala.info.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 4 ]

4 Comments

  1. Nipperkin
    [ Posted January 3, 2011, at 10:36 am ]
    …the piece shows that the process of signal-locating, that waveform-shuddering turn of the dial familiar from cross-country trips and mountain passes, is itself a signal…

    I’ll admit that I’m fascinated by this idea, in sound as elsewhere (poetry and film, most notably). If your description is accurate, i.e. that this is/could be a radio trying but ultimately failing to capture a signal, it is/could be another example of how the inability to achieve the desired result becomes the result and is presented — and appreciated — as such. Ponge’s “Pine Wood Notebook,” Böll’s “The Seventh Trunk,” and Fellini’s “8 1/2” are other examples of the inability to create being itself the creation.

  2. Marc Weidenbaum
    [ Posted January 3, 2011, at 10:51 am ]

    Thanks for those associated examples. The Fellini is familiar, but not the others.

    • Nipperkin
      [ Posted January 3, 2011, at 11:45 am ]

      They’re worth seeking out, IMO, as is a mid-’60s essay by John Barth called “The Literature of Exhaustion,” which directly addresses the issue.

      The thing that fascinates me most in such pieces is how they blur the boundaries that traditionally separated the work from all that went into it, to the point where everything — preparatory research, sketches, drafts, versions, revisions, the “finished” piece itself, if ever achieved — The Work.

      Such an approach shifts the emphasis from object to process, as Cage put it.

      • Nipperkin
        [ Posted January 3, 2011, at 11:48 am ]

        Sorry! The second paragraph should end:

        “…to the point where everything — preparatory research, sketches, drafts, versions, revisions, the “finished” piece itself, if ever achieved — constitutes “The Work.'”

        I’ll add here that the trend toward “box sets” like the “Pet Sounds” one, or bootlegs like “Strawberry Lane” are not unlike what we’re talking about, only they are presented more as “the path to the work” rather than as works themselves.

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  • 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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