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The Communal Cough (MP3)

The sound of a patient Berlin audience

The great TouchRadio podcast series has gotten more delightfully inscrutable as time has passed. Once upon a time, it was dependable for raw field recordings of high sonic quality and often intrepid subject matter, along with occasional works in which field recordings were among the multifariously transformed source material. As time has passed, the variety of the podcast entries has expanded to include, among other things, orchestral works and spoken word. But while the variety has grown, the information associated with the tracks has tended to decrease; often as not there is essentially no explanatory text, leaving the listener to sort things out by his or her own, often by using Google to find corresponding information based on a small handful of facts. That path has, perhaps, reached its apex with a quarter-hour MP3 live recording attributed to no one and, by all appearances, containing just the quiet coughing and otherwise patient if low-level noise-producing waiting of an audience at the CMT festival last month in Berlin.

[audio:http://www.touchshop.org/touchradio/Radio76.mp3|titles=”Listen!”|artists=TouchRadio]

The photo up top was associated with the MP3 when it was posted by TouchRadio, which attributed the image to Mike Harding, who is half of the Touch label’s management (along with Jon Wozencroft). At the touchradio.org.uk website, there is little if any information, just this single line: “Recorded live at Passionskirche, Berlin @ Spire Live, closing CTM12.”

The recording captures an audience waiting together for an event to occur. The document now persists as something a second, asynchronous audience listens to, waiting for it to reveal its meaning.

Track originally posted at touchradio.org.uk. More on the festival at ctm-festival.de.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 2 ]

2 Comments

  1. Nipperkin
    [ Posted March 12, 2012, at 9:30 am ]
    The recording captures an audience waiting together for an event to occur. The document now persists as something a second, asynchronous audience listens to, waiting for it to reveal its meaning.

    Nice description.

    Or it could be considered the recording of a historical re-enactment of an extended version of Cage’s 4’33”.

  2. aidan
    [ Posted March 13, 2012, at 10:52 am ]

    Ha, I think I can hear myself coughing…

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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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