Audible Audio: Kaffe Matthews

HOME: London.

Kaffe Matthews was born in Essex, England and lives and works in London.

Since 1990 she has been making and performing new electro-acoustic music with a variety of things and places such as violin, theremin, Scottish weather, desert stretched wires, NASA scientists, melting ice in Quebec and the BBC Scottish symphony orchestra. Currently she's exploring underwater vibrations through Hammerhead sharks in Galapagos and Atlantic salmon in Northumberland rivers. Acknowledged as a pioneer in the field of electronic improvisation and live composition, Kaffe has released 6 solo CD’s on the label Annette Works.

Often collaborating, her present project is with climate change activist fan band The Gluts and Café Carbon as well as ongoing sonic furniture project ‘music for bodies’.

Recent works include: The Marvelo Project(2008), Folkestone Sculpture Triennial; Sonic Bed_Marfa(2008), Texas; Sonic Bench_Mexico (2007), Laboratorio Arte Alameda Mexico City, 2007; Body Abiding, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow ; Sonic Bed_Shanghai, Xuhui Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2006; This is for you, work for chaise longue, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2005; Three Crosses of Queensbridge, work for bicycles + radios, Drawing Room, London, 2005; No-one here but us chickens, The Starr auditorium, TATE Modern, London, UK, 2005.

Her 2004 collaboration Weightless Animals was awarded a BAFTA, she received a NESTA Dreamtime Fellowship in 2005 and an Award of Distinction, Prix Ars Electronica 2006 for the work Sonic Bed_London. In February 2006 she was made an Honorary Professor of Music, Shanghai Music Conservatory, China.

Do you consider your audio work to be "music"?




Do you think about such things?

Never as an argument, as there isn't one.

Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music?

More recently, reviewers have referred to it as sound. This could be because they might be being asked to lie down and feel it rather than sit on a chair watching someone (..me) and listen to it. I think they need to focus on the perceptive end of the listening experience a little more.

How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to?

Its play and construction is purposeful and demands listening. Therefore it is music.

Or would you?

What are your favorite sorts of music?

Music that makes me listen.

And nonmusic?

I don't think there is nonmusic. Apart from some forms of classical music of course.


Audible Audio: Alessandro Bosetti

HOME: Berlin

Alessandro Bosetti was born in Milan, Italy in 1973. He is a composer and sound artist working on the musicality of spoken words and unusual aspects of spoken communication, producing text-sound compositions featured in live performances, radio broadcastings and published recordings. In his work he moves across the line between sound anthropology and composition, often including translation and misunderstanding in the creative process. Field research and interviews build the basis for abstract compositions, along with electro-acoustic and acoustic collages, relational strategies, trained and untrained instrumental practices, vocal explorations and digital manipulations. Recent projects include African Feedback (Errant Bodies press), the interactive speaking machine "MaskMirror" (STEIM, Kunstradio.at a.o. ) and an ongoing project on linguistic enclaves in the USA.

Do you consider your audio work to be "music"? Always? Sometimes? Do you think about such things?

Surely, yes. The only real decisions I take in my work are musical decisions.

Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music? What happened?

What's up with everybody asking this question right now? It is somehow up in the air again. Together with "should I move to Berlin?" and "should I go back to school?" I know, I know, it must be because of the bad economy.... that must be the reason... In any case yes, it happened, I had been challenged by someone but then I forgot what happened. I was also musically challenged as a kid. My Argentinean grand-aunt was a piano teacher. She wore an impressive layer of white make up on her face. She resembled something in between a Japanese geisha and a cheesecake frosting. She gave me two piano lessons. In the first one I just sat there copying treble keys on a piece of pentagram paper for one hour trying to get it right. In the second I had to do the same. After then I stopped - of course - and decided that my nature was that of a surely unmusical being. Now I am 36 and I know that this is not really the case. I am very happy of that.

How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to? Or would you?

I simply know it is music.

If you don't defend your audio work as "music," is there a term you use for it?

Once I had the honor to sit beside Henri Chopin in a restaurant and talk to him for a couple hours. He looked infinitely old. He looked almost like a dead person. So fragile. But humorous at the same time. He just had played a wonderful performance at the Berlin poetry festival. I had been digging his work for a while, reading that fabulous and meandering compendium that his Poesie Sonore book is and exploring the revoue OU in the accurate re-edition released on CD by Alga Marghen. After one hour that I was talking with him about his work I realized I was constantly referring to it as "his music". I knew how he dreaded this definition. He had spent so much ink in his younger years making clear how his work was poetry and not music. He wanted it to belong to the realm of the lettres. Still I was forgetful and kept calling it music all the time. A terrifying mistake. And with one of the artists I admired the most. At a certain point I become aware my faux pas. He looked so old and fragile I dreaded that he could have got upset and die on the spot, or mabe just disintegrate into sand or catch fire like a vampire exposed to sunlight (did you see the Katrin Bigelow vampire western movie? It's great...). But he didn't. I apologized. He was just laughing. He seemed allright with it. He was laughing all the time. He was so happy to be still alive.

What are your favorite sorts of music? And nonmusic?

Speech is one. There are many others.

Anything else?

Check out that vampire movie. It's really good!


Audible Audio: Tom Hamilton

HOME: New York

TOM HAMILTON has been composing and performing for over 40 years, and his work with electronic music originated in the late-60s era of analog synthesis. Hamilton often explores the interaction of many simultaneous layers of activity, prompting the use of “present-time listening” on the part of both performer and listener.

Hamilton was a 2005 Fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and he participated in a residency at the foundation’s center in Umbria. His CD London Fix received an honorary mention in the 2004 Prix Ars Electronica. His performing and recording colleagues have included Peter Zummo, Bruce Gremo, Karlheinz Essl, Bruce Arnold, Rich O’Donnell, Jonathan Haas, Jacqueline Martelle, Al Margolis, Steve Nelson-Raney, Hal Rammel, Thomas Gaudynski, Christopher Burns, Rick Aaron, Thomas Buckner, David Soldier, Bruce Eisenbeil, and Richard Lerman. He has been a collaborator with visual artists, including Fred Worden (filmmaker), Van McElwee, Katherine Liberovskaya, and Morey Gers (video artists), and the late Ernst Haas (photographer).

An active participant in New York’s new music scene, Hamilton was the co-director of the 2004 Sounds Like Now festival, and he has co-produced the Cooler in the Shade/Warmer by the Stove new music series since 1993. He is a longtime member of composer Robert Ashley’s touring opera ensemble. His audio production can be found in over 80 CD releases of new and experimental music, including recordings by Muhal Richard Abrams, David Behrman, Thomas Buckner, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, Roscoe Mitchell, Phill Niblock, and “Blue” Gene Tyranny.

Tom Hamilton’s sound installations have been presented in New York at Diapason, Studio Five Beekman, the 479 Gallery and Experimental Intermedia, and elsewhere at CCNOA (Brussels) The St. Louis Art Museum, CalArts (Valencia, CA), the Sound Symposium festival (St. John’s NF), Woodland Pattern Book Center (Milwaukee) and the Dorsch Gallery (Miami).

Do you consider your audio work to be "music"? Always? Sometimes? Do you think about such things?

Yes. I think the fundamental question that has been passed down to us is: "What else is music?" Of course there are many artists who will use the term "sound art" or "audio art" intentionally to sidestep the issue, but I think that's a shame. I know they do it to avoid confrontation with people who have a more traditional musical orientation; they don't consider traditional music to be part of their training or experience, they don't want to participate in M.U.S.I.C. and they don't want to be judged by the same criteria as is often applied to other music. But it is paradoxical: By avoiding those questions they miss the opportunity to add to our knowledge of what music can be, which would include theirs as well. None of my business, I guess.

Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music? What happened?

Not that I can remember. See - I guess I'm more conventional than I thought I was. Hmm: Does "turn that shit OFF" count?

Of course, since I work with electronics, it comes through in descriptors. I've had my fill of being described as a "mad scientist," "tinkerer," "knob-twister," or "berserker organist." Some folks just want to string together clichés to make their point but it's just a symptom of being uncomfortable. They don't like it, somehow this is my fault, and so they have to denigrate the process.

I work in areas that at times overlap either jazz or concert music. And there are some people from those worlds who come into contact with what I'm doing who seem to be self-appointed gatekeepers for one or another of those traditions. And for them, it is an affront to introduce electronic instruments into their gene pool. They can't tie it back to what they imagine is a pure tradition, and they can't allow it to take its place in the present environment. So, since I can only do what I do, I can get the cold shoulder if I slip out of my natural habitat. But it is its own reality check. I have to say that open-mindedness is probably a prime requisite to enjoying anything I'm doing. I'm not out to make converts; I'm just there to make pieces.

How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to? Or would you?

I might remind a hypothetical objector that since there is enough music to go around, it doesn't have to be my stuff. I also think that I would pass along my own criterion: If the artist says it's music, then it is.

If you don't defend your audio work as "music," is there a term you use for it?

We have too many genres already.

What are your favorite sorts of music? And nonmusic?

If something is original, I can listen to it repeatably. And I find that quality in many genres, in many eras. So I like jazz from 1960, but not contemporary players that sound like 1960. I avoid nostalgic efforts whenever possible. I keep listening for what else improvised music can be, and sometimes I hope that I add a little to that myself.

Anything else?

A sculptor I know once said to me, about looking at new work: "If I've seen it before, I don't like it." I thought that summed it up pretty well.


Audible Audio

My second template interview (after the "high bias" questionnaires) was sent out to a much smaller group of people and required much more writing from them. Still, the ratio of people responding was about the same, which means it's just as good. Right?

I was interested in asking musicians how they defend themselves against the charge that their work isn't "music" - a hilarious accusation, I think, and one that I hear often enough about the music I listen to (well, not like Graves at Sea and stuff, but some of the music I listen to) that I figured they'd heard it to.

The replies from the three respondents will follow, and I thank them for taking the time to answer my questions.


Southern Exposure

One of the photos I took of dancer Janet Pants last Halloween is being used for Southern Exposure's Extended Play series. And Ellen Fullman is playing! If you're around San Francisco, go. And thanks June for letting me know. I feel all cool now.

Anything is Possible With a Willing Heart


Spearmint and Vanilla Music

In my vanity and frivolity, I decided to see if there was anything on YouTube called "Spearmint Music." What I found was this sorta guitar jazz thing written for a stripper that reminded the guy of his dead grandmother or something and a melody that seems lifted from "Memories" at times. It reminds me of a bad version of Prince when he's bad, in a way.

So maybe that's what Spearmint Music is.


Happy Easter, Orthodoxes and Unorthodoxes Alike

Easter 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the first-ever live public performance with a MiniMoog.

On Easter Sunday 1970, David Borden and Steve Drews of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. - the world's first synthesizer ensemble - performed "Easter" (Borden's first tonal pulse-piece composed for the Moog) to audiences at Cornell University's Sage Chapel, in Ithaca, NY. They used the MiniMoog prototype, thanks to Bob Moog.

For Borden's reminiscence of this event, see his website:

The above is not a video of the event.

Thanks to Joyce @ Cuneiform for the info.


Vacant @ ffmup

Tuesday April 13th @ Terrace, 62 Washington St. Princeton NJ; 9 PM. FREE!

Klezshop (Gilad Cohen+Jonathan Keren+Gilad Harel)

A unique modern-klezmer trio based in New York City. Its members, originally from Israel, bring a wide variety of genres and influences to their music. Graduates of the Juilliard School, the Paris Conservatory and the Jerusalem Academy, they combine their classical education with a rich experience of performing Jewish music, Rock, Jazz and Irish music all over the world.


Vacant (Jen Mesch+Kurt Gottschalk)

Vacant sees no shame in inspiration. Vacant is like imitation flattery. Vacant has borrowed from the Sex Pistols and the Carter Family in the past, and might again in the future. Vacant is a duo with Jennifer Mesch dancing and Kurt Gottschalk playing guitar. Vacant is an undercover cover band seeking new modes of mimicry.