Various Artists

    The Noise and the City


    Concept art isn’t so much art as it is a method to invite attempts to define the indefinable. Christo thinks wrapping a scooter in fabric is art. Discuss. See? It’s that easy. Autres Directions in Music gathered thirty artists under a united concept to provoke the same response. Each artist recorded sounds in and around their city, and then reprocessed those sounds as much or as little as they pleased. Some of the artists formed rhythms and beats, and some left the recording relatively untouched. The concept, more than the “music” itself, is the star of the show. The idea may spark a short discussion, but the album itself isn’t likely to do the same.


    Some artists weld the sounds together with a bit of logic, like aMute’s “Cyclic Brussels Give Up!,” which pastes together muffled sounds to form a melody of sorts, with the occasional clang for percussion. Depth Affect’s “Vulcanor” follows suit with a sinister but engrossing tune. But if you’re curious to hear what it sounds like when your tape recorder gets triggered when it’s crammed into the bottom of your backpack, now you can: Wang Changcun’s “Refrigeration Pot” is four minutes of static. In a stunning display of one-upmanship, Christian Galarreta lets us enjoy three minutes and forty-five seconds of silence before a screeching, oppressive distortion fills the remaining minute.

    Tim Koch fashions a beat from found sounds, which is interesting because of the quirky noises that form the rhythm, but it’s not particularly charming — nor is it an entirely original concept (Matmos, anyone?). And when the concept is the selling point, it makes the project fairly irrelevant if it fails to engage. The compilation’s saving grace is that Autres Music is offering it free of charge at its Web site. When you’re done downloading it, give me a call — I’ve got a Vespa and some burlap to sell you.

    Discuss this review at the Prefix Message Board

    Depth Affect’s “Vulcanor”

    Wang Changcun’s “Refrigeration Pot”

    aMute’s “Cyclic Brussels Give Up!”