Re: Prix Ars Digital Musics results

Subject: Re: Prix Ars Digital Musics results
From: Anomalous Records (
Date: Mon Jun 21 1999 - 01:37:09 EDT

Reading my mail a bit late in terms of this list, but I've just read the
reactions to the winners of the Digital Musics category for Prix Ars
Electronica 1999. There seems to be a bit of worry about techno taking
over the scene, but I think that's a bit reactionary and perhaps DC
Mckinnon was not familiar with the music which has won. While certainly
grand prize winner Aphex Twin is now for his techno, I think you should
look closer at the others. Ikue Mori is more known as an improvisor, and
while using drum machines creates quite a racket that is hardly dance
music. Peter Rehberg of the Mego 'techno' collective produces electronic
music (computer music to be exact) that is far from dancable and actually
very often fractured and bordering on silence. Much of his work is made
from collaging errors and mistakes, and he's got a bit of following in
experimental circles. Likewise, I don't remember Fennesz having a beat to
his music either. Some of the honorary mentions I don't know. bernhard
gunter (whose piece is really a collaboration with John Hudak) creates
really microscopic compositions who draw more influence from Feldman,
Boulez and zen. He is known among 'noise' circles, but still puts on tape
concerts when he appears live. John Duncan comes from the area of
industrial music and performance art (recently included in LACE's "Out of
Actions" retrospective alongside Yves Klein, Fluxus, Gutai, etc.), and is
known for creating a body of work with shortwave radio as a source.
Although recent he's also done a soundscape of an Italian town and been
composing on the computer using samples of the noises the computer itself
makes. Francisco Lopez I think is on this list and creates works which are
large very austere, often bordering on silence and using extremes of
frenquencies (especially low ones which can't be heard without good
speakers and some volume). His other works have including very soundscapes
like "La Selva". Paul de Marinis is an installation artist who builds many
of his sound devices, and is a long time associate of the likes of Robert
Ashley and David Tudor. Zbigniew Karkowski is a Polish composer whose
works include light triggered percussion set up and very noisy works, which
is collaborator Masami Akita is even better known for (he works under the
name Merzbow and is one of the biggest names in Japanese noise). Ralf
Wehowsky comes from post-punk scene of 1980's Germany but was involved in
the industrial musique concrete group P16.D4, and now creates very skillful
compositions which would seem to fit into the electroacoustic area as
Metamkine included him in their series. All in all, this is far from
dominated by repeatitive dance music (Pansonic won nothing), or replacing
sounds with hipster sonorities or analog synths.

However, I do wonder how much the winning was influences by who the judges
were. For example, I know Jim O'Rourke knows and has worked with about 6
of the people on the list and I believe is even included in Ralf Wehowsky's
work "Tulpas" (which is a 5 CD set with many artists featured).

In the end, I think it's very refreshing to see this variety introduced
into such a competion, even if I don't agree with all the choices or maybe
perhaps think they missed a lot of other things. This is certainly no
revolution as they state, pretty much all of these artists have been
working for quite some time (approaching 20 years for More, Duncan, Lopez,
Akira, and Wehowsky), and I think creating some music which is quite
innovative. Electroacoustic music is largely stagnant with many artists
coming up with yet another composition which immediately is recognizable as
an electroacoustic piece following all the rules of all those before and
not introducing anything more. There is a lot more possible and many
artists have taken things in many other directions, and not just selling
out to putting a steady beat to things. There is still good
electroacoustic being produced, but I think it's time some people took a
look and saw how diverse electronic experimental music has gotten.

Eric Lanzillotta

Anomalous Records
P.O. Box 22195, Seattle, WA 98122-0195, USA
telephone: (206) 328-9339 fax: (206) 328-9408
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