Ambient Politics

What does the global AIDS crisis sound like? How about the displacement of people from the dwindling stock of affordable housing in cities like Los Angeles? Since 1994, a collective of artists, activists and musicians known as Ultra-red have created sound works and performances that combine ambient music and confrontational politics. Based in LA, Ultra-red's practice of working with field recordings to make sonic montages has produced a complex collection of albums and public performances. Since early works like "Soundtracks," based on the group's on-site work with needle-exchange advocates, they have worked with housing activists ("Structural Adjustments") and international labor organizations ("Social Factory"), producing albums and events that challenge both the political and aesthetic dimensions of social spaces. Past Ultra-red works, as well as those of their collaborators, can be found in their "Public Record Archive," an online collection of downloadable sounds, images, movies and texts. What one will find is a mix of experimental documentary, electronica and community organizing that, like the space surrounding us, demands attention from multiple senses. - Ryan Griffis