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teleform - cosine f

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Artist: teleform

Album: cosine f

Label: Domizil

Review date: Aug. 1, 2002

The press release accompanying this CD—which is the only information available to go on since the CD itself is devoid of any notes—speaks of “wonder-filled musical dialects” and “musical deconstructivism,” sure signs that the theory behind the album may end up being much more interesting than the actual listening experience. And sure enough, the 35 tracks here (37 minutes’ worth) contain digital sounds ranging from essentially silent to annoyingly shrill.

It may be that here, “deconstructivism” refers to the process of removing all personality and intended meaning from music, leaving coy digital static and computer-generated synthetic noises. The sounds here are shorn of even a title, so they’re on their own and, alas, they communicate nothing. The fact is that it would be exceptionally easy to write a computer program to spit out hundreds of albums like this, and they would all be equally meaningless.

Lest this seem overly harsh, or I appear unappreciative of “pure sound,” let me back up for a moment. There are occasional points herein where the artist’s hand shows itself, and those are the most rewarding. Unfortunately these moments are few and far between, the majority of the album instead seeming as though someone drag-and-dropped a sound snippet with his eyes closed, figuring that one place is as good as another.

There seem to be a growing legion of “sound artists” these days satisfied with experimentation for its own sake, without giving enough thought to whether a listener will actually come away changed by the experience. While I’m all for experimentation, the end result needs to be listenable; it needs to exert some force of personality, it needs to engage.

These recordings aren’t energetic enough to either intrigue or shock, like, say, Merzbow might. They’re not composed enough to either provoke or baffle, as did the Hafler Trio and P16.D4, for example, who indulged in similar – if less high-tech – experiments long ago. The album doesn’t explore extraordinary new worlds, as did the early electronic composers. Without engagement, without emotion, without something to draw a listener in, what we’re left with is cold, random sound sans meaning.

I have this picture in my mind of young bearded hipsters listening to this and nodding, pretending to be engaged until, once alone again, they can put on something else, just like I’m going to do right now.

By Mason Jones

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