Dischi Fantom is happy to announce its first release Transmissions, a 4-record anthology of Soundwalk Collective. With an essay by David Toop
Hertzian frequencies, radio interceptions, fragments of voices, singing sands, shortwave transmissions, archival recordings, vanished worlds, chaotic harmonies, daunting moments of confusion, an audible entropy, elation, and an endless search for beauty into chaos.
“I hear this displacement of refrains. I am not fixed within signs but adrift within signals. Like a bat or a dolphin, I hear scanned frequencies otherwise inaudible to my human limitations and these voices and tones captured from the aether seem to me to be our equivalent of those voices of gods who spoke ‘words that flew’; music asserts its regional and cultural affiliations and yet at the same time it drifts unmoored in the ocean of sound.” David Toop
The box set gathers four previously unreleased studio compositions by the New York and Berlin-based group of artists-musicians: Ulysses Syndrome, Medea, Empty Quarter, and Bessarabia, and a booklet including Black-Winged Night, an essay by musician and writer David Toop and a conversation between Soundwalk Collective and Dischi Fantom founder, Massimo Torrigiani.
The four compositions – mastered by Stefan Betke and published in an edition of 300 copies – are the result of extensive journeys and field recordings in the Mediterranean basin, the Black Sea, the Rub’ al Khali Desert, and the region around Odessa, once known as Bessarabia.
An international genre-bending group of artists-musicians with studios in New York City and Berlin, the three members of Soundwalk Collective (Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi) bound in Manhattan to produce concept albums, sound installations, and live performances. Often in collaboration with other artists, musicians, and writers.
Selected tracks from Transmissions are being broadcasted internationally as part of Every Time a Ear Di Soun, the radio program of documenta14, curated by Adam Szymiczyk. The program includes a headphone installation in the Press and Information Centre in Kassel, designed by Aristide Antonas, and in the ASFA Library in Athens, and will be running through September 17th, 2017.
Dischi Fantom 01: Transmissions by Soundwalk Collective
Number of records: 4; 160 grams, 12” vinyl LPs housed in a box (32,3 x 32,3 cm; 12.7 x 12.7 inches)
With a 16-page booklet including Black-Winged Night, an essay by David Toop, and a conversation between Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli and Kamran Sadeghi of Soundwalk Collective with Dischi Fantom’s founder Massimo Torrigiani.
Release date: June 16th, 2017
All music composed and produced by Soundwalk Collective
Mastering: Stefan Betke at ~Scape Mastering, Berlin
Graphic Design: Fabrizio Radaelli, Milan
Photography: Stephan Crasneanscki
Record Pressing: Optimal Media, Germany
Printed and assembled in Italy by Grafiche Antiga
Ph: Delfino Sisto Legnani
“In the Fall of 2009, some 2,800 hundred years after Homer, we embarked on an old gaff-rigged sailboat to follow the ancient path of Ulysses. Equipped with scanners and aerial antennae, we recorded the hertzian frequencies all along the shores of the Mediterranean basin. Our intent, was to sonically recreate our own interpretation of the ‘Myth of Ulysses’.
Through the use of our multiple radio scanners, we were able to create a very specific platform, a sound archive. These scanners simultaneously overlapped sounds in their own free and unexpected ways, creating a trove of accidental encounters of sounds bouncing back and forth from the Middle East to Africa and Europe. During this journey, we became these sort of nautical historians, of words and noise. We intercepted vast fragmentations of history. The interplay of these fragments along with the infinite nature of the sea, offered various tonalities, each unique to its region. The result, a chaotic harmony, an audible entropy. The sound of the sea alone offered us something very exclusive to Ulysses Syndrome. A very specific layered thickness of sound, which can only occur with depth. In order to capture all of these multiple layers, we opened ourselves completely. Otherwise, this intricate layering of sounds could have escaped us. These fragile harmonies that surface only on their own accord, became the source and composition for Ulysses Syndrome.
Once back in the studio, our personal and controlled environment, we went through a meticulous selection process. We wanted to be certain that every sample transferred the appropriate language and sentiment of each culture. This is very important to us, for this and all projects. The recognition of our shared cultural histories and the reminder of their eternal significance. This editing resulted in an ‘état des lieux’ of our civilization and its relation to the sea and to ourselves. The samples, along with the recordings of the sea, allowed us to recreate our journey. The map of our voyage, became the score of our music. The sound and the sea, the past and the present. They became one.”
Side A: 01. Troia
02. Keramoti 03. Andros
Side B 01. Bonifacio 02. Scilla 03. Ceuta 04. Qarṭāj 05. Pantelleria 06. Siracusa 07. Sarandë 08. Ithakē
“The Black Sea is the antithesis of the Mediterranean. It is dark in colour, but its darkness extends deeply beyond the visual. It is a darkness with such depth that it can be felt, it insists on being felt, at times almost too intensely. This darkness, is what guided us through Medea. In ways, it is Medea.
Following Ulysses Syndrome, Medea is the second part of a diptych, and as far as our work is concerned, ‘The Dark Side’. In Medea, we recreated the same dispositive of multiple scanners which we used for Ulysses Syndrome. Following the path of Medea and the Argonauts, we travelled between the coasts of the Black Sea, sailing into the Slavic empire facing the immensity of the Middle East and the darkness of the mountains of the Caucasus. While we used a process similar to Ulysses Syndrome, in Medea, the sound, the feeling, the results, they are all their own.
Medea’s vast depth allowed us to sink even further into sounds; to truly inhabit all the different tones and waves collected from our time in the Black Sea. Similar to Ulysses Syndrome, we created a sample library dedicated to each region. As to be imagined, each separate region has a life, a past life and a resulting sound all of its own. What connects them is the darkness that is the Black Sea. This darkness, so controlling that it seemed to almost forcefully extend itself to the rugged and unforgiving landscape surrounding it. There is something about the way landscape shapes human memory, and how the physicality of it creates an undertone, a background noise with a defined, although complex, character.
The outcome of all of this transferred itself into the recordings. The results of this exhaustive process can be heard in a significantly slower tempo, working with low frequencies, atonal harmonies and Eastern scales.
Medea, in its final state, is the musical culmination of the volatile and introspective exchange we shared with the Black Sea. Times of exhaustion which gradually lead to elation, daunting moments of confusion, which, with patience, resulted in heightened clarity. The demanding and ineffable darkness which is the Black Sea, once we succumbed to it, it lead us to this, to Medea.”
Side A: 01. Istanbul 02. Zonguldak
03. Trabzon 04. Batumi
Side B: 01. Kerch 02. Yalta 03. Chornomors’ke 04. Odessa 05. Sulina 06. Constanta 07. Burgas
“For 45 days we travelled through a mostly uninhabited desert, known to the Bedouins as Rub’ al Khali. The ‘Empty Quarter’, its literal translation, stretches from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf, extending over four nations. It is the largest continual desert in the world acting as a crossroads of Middle Eastern civilization. Some have said this desert is the birthplace of Islam.
Removed from modernity, the scanner radio, the same used in Ulysses Syndrome and Medea, is the only functioning device for communication. From Bedouins voyaging through the desert to oil miners or sailors of cargo ships, all of those in or around Rub’ al Khali who need to communicate, depend on them. These scanners, retrieving each sound and voice, result in the creation of an unintentional shared sound space, a collective. Whether the voice is seeking exact coordinates or sending the call to prayer, this sound space is used by all, for all. In a desert this vast, it is easy to lose sense of yourself, of time and of space. These voices which normally would be ignored are now crucial, as they are sometimes the only connection to others. These various intercepted voices, echo life in moments when one might feel quite removed from it. The voices become, perhaps, the sound of sanity.
Following nomadic traditions, we allowed the movements of the sand and wind to act as our guide. When the landscape is constantly changing and everything is beyond your control, you must allow yourself to be guided. Like the landscape, the sounds of the desert were infinite, knowing no boundaries. To interpret this almost eternal emptiness we used a reductive approach, scanning and recording the hertzian frequencies which stretch across the dunes. In the final composition, through filtering and extreme equalization, we created distant and faint textures. This allowed each element to slowly reveal itself, the way they were slowly revealed to us in the desert. The continuum of sound created by the winds, in constant interaction with the sand and combined with the intercepted voices and their stories, is our interpretation and recreation of the all-encompassing immensity that is ‘The Empty Quarter’.”
Side A: 01. Wāḥḥat Līw 02. Shaybah
03. Ash Shisar 04. Ataq 05. As Sulayyil
07. Umm Al Melh
Side B 01. Abhā 02. Marib 03. an‘ā’ 04. Layla 05. Nadqan
“The atrocities held in the history of Bessarabia, a former region of Eastern Europe, are not known to many. Instead, they were forced to be forgotten and almost permanently erased. Only recently, after inquiry from living relatives and aging locals fearing the truth they witnessed might be lost forever, have the disparaging details emerged. The details, unimaginable. This grave atrocity, now referred to as ‘Shoah by Bullet’, is what many wish didn’t have a name. Not just a name, but now a sound. A sound of resurrection, resonance and permanence. A sound of survival offering an eternal existence.
In collaboration with Centropa Foundation we were given access to taped recordings of surviving Jews. Recorded in 1959, these tapes ended up improperly stored, in the basement of the Jewish Federation in Kiev. For the past 60 years, these voices have been trapped in a space suffering the unforgiving consequences of time and elements.
The damage incurred still can be heard, in the faintness of the morphed voices forcing themselves through to various glitches. These imperfections act as an audible reflection of the damaging history. While now all that remains on the tapes are just a few fragmented voices, together these fragments become a collective voice. That collective voice, one of Jewish survival. In order to feel and to understand the stories and the voices, we returned to where they were first silenced. We travelled through the 27 villages and towns. Kishinev in Moldova, Tiraspol in Transnistria, along the Black Sea, and Carpathian Mountains; to the sites where mobile execution units were erected for mass shootings, and to the mass graves Jews were forced to dig themselves before being buried alive. Wherever the gravest atrocities occurred, the places history doesn’t want you to go. This is where we went and recorded. What remains visually in Bessarabia, is a forged sense of normalcy, an almost forced forgetting. Someone could easy mistake it for idyllic, grass has grown over the graves, the sun still shines. There are no gravestones, nothing marking the dead past. Life continues as though that is all it has ever done. Below the graves, though, are the remnants of those executed. These remnants, you can feel and hear. These remnants are what we recorded.
All of the location recordings were made at night. Vision gives a false illusion of life and light. There was no light. Just darkness, a darkness that echoes the permanent emptiness of this lost, almost forgotten, world. Through micro processing, we increased the surface noise of the tapes revealing a physicality, enhancing the disintegration of the tapes. Combined with the physical regression of the sounds recorded, this resulted in what can only be described as a haunting harmony. This created a meditative and hypnotic reflection of the indifference of nature towards humans potential for evil. In order to prevent itself from repeating, history needs a memory. Bessarabia almost deleted that memory, twice. Now we have tried to resurrect it. The voices that were almost lost forever, will now resonate and repeat in a format that can be replayed forever.”
Side A: 01. Bilhorod-Dnistrovs’kyi 02. Izmayil
04. Tiraspol 05. Iași
Side B 01. Bălți 02. Soroca 03. Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyi 04. Dubăsari 05. Basarabeasca 06. Bolhra
Soundwalk Collective’s approach to composition combines anthropology, ethnography, non-linear narrative, psychogeography, the observation of nature, and explorations in recording and synthesis. The source material of their works is always linked to specific locations, natural or artificial, and requires long periods of investigative travel and field work.
They had solo shows at the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), District Six Museum (Cape Town), “Capo d’Arte”, Gagliano del Capo (Lecce, Italy), and in New York’s Times Square, where in April 2016 they mounted Jungle-ized, a large participative audio-visual installation.
Along the years, they performed live at Triennale Teatro dell’Arte (Milan); Opéra de Lyon; CTM Festival (Berlin); KW Institute of Contemporary Art (Berlin); Volksbühne (Berlin); Novas Frequencias Festival (Rio De Janeiro); Strichka Festival (Kiev); Arma 17 (Moscow); Barbican Centre (London); Berghain (Berlin); Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); Florence Gould Hall (New York); Mobile Art by Zaha Hadid (Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York); MUDAM (Luxemburg); MuCEM (Marseilles); Museo Madre (Naples); National Museum of Singapore; New Museum (New York); TAP (Poitiers), and Villa de Noailles – Centre d’Art et de Culture Contemporain (Hyères).
They are currently working with choreographer Sasha Waltz and with Jean-Luc Godard on a composition based on the director’s archive of sounds and voices.