Various Sonic Circuits 8

The American Composer's Forum curates multimedia exhibitions around the world, and each year compiles a disc of some of the audio highlights. The Sonic Circuits series always feature the most challenging electronic sounds from all points. The contributors always have as much to say about their own parts of the world as they do about sound itself. It also seems as though the intellectual world of electro-acoustics has been greatly influenced by a desire to make real-world cultural commentary. Not that this hasn't existed in years gone by, but there seems to be more and more good stuff being widely distributed these days. John Von Seggern's "Hyper Erhu" puts a single sample of two-stringed Chinese violin through the software wringer. Preston Wright's "Carpenter Ant Blues" indeed sounds like a zillion ants chewing together, with a loosely Latin feel. On the pure sonics side, Malte Steiner's "Draht Welt" lives up to its billing as "not an arc-welder being applied to a piano string, but close." David Jaggard's reconstruction of Samuel Beckett's "Watt" is great - tough customer Beckett would definitely have approved. The most extreme piece on this is Philip Mantione's "Sinusoidal Tendencies," which does in fact peel layers of flesh from the holes your head. I challenge anyone to sit through it and not be profoundly affected/disturbed. One caveat, though, the closing, clumsy drum & bass outing by Antun Blazinovic sucks hard; sounding like badly warmed over Laibach. (Innova)