For people who revel in the rich, eternal abyss that is the recording studio. This particular writer is more fascinated with the ideas of the possibilities of the technology, however, when confronted with the real thing, wants to eliminate the presence of it altogether. I’ve always felt that this instinct of mine is a bit like musique concrete, in a way.
Which David Grubbs spoke about in his presentation that was basically the story of his struggle to define the term “sound art.” He eventually arrived at “Sound art is an argument about the context in which the work should be received.” A good, relativist approach, for sure, that, like the artwork itself, “aims to evoke an aesthetic reaction.” Especially in a room of critics.
Tim Hecker spoke about Glenn Gould, always a fascinating figure to mull over. It sort of centered around the ineluctable existential conflict that lived inside of Gould, his inability to rise above himself. The amount of paradox is too much to bear. But in particular, his simultaneous feeling of liberation and anxiety surrounding the recording studio, his fervent desire to escape his bodily restrictions, the interiority of his reclusiveness versus his megastar status. (Semi relevant factoid: apparently Gould was the first North American musician to tour the Soviet Union after WWII – see here.)
Interestingly, Hecker chose not to play and of Gould’s music. One could argue that it was irrelevant to this paper, but it would have illuminated a lot of the character attributes discussed in the paper, in the sense that hearing the music would illuminate certain things about Gould’s personality or inner conflicts. Maybe his frenetic style or his eccentric virtuosity. Without Alex Ross around this year to play some “classical” music and explain to us all why its pop music after all, I felt a big empty hole.