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5 Walks in the Electro-Ambient Forest

By Rhizome

Highly influential German sound artist Christina Kubisch's latest release, Five Electrical Walks on Important Records is the culmination of her interactive explorations with electromagnetic induction that she began in 2003. In various installations, the artist asks participants to put on custom-made headphones which receive and amplify the electromagnetic signals radiating from the technological paraphernalia of the advanced metropolis, i.e. computer screens, ATMs, sensors, scanners, fluorescent lights etc. In a Situationist/Derive-esque walk, listeners are sonically emerged in an ever-changing sea of ambient frequencies and noise, navigating the city in a disoriented state of synaestheisa. Anyone familiar with the sound computer speakers make before your cell phone rings can imagine how deliciously alarming the soundtrack must be; a fitting merger of form and content. The compositions on this release are taken from numerous electromagnetic adventurous from 2003 to the present, from cities as varied as Birmingham, Berlin, Bremen, Chicago, London, Paris, Taipei, Toyko, amongst many others. The track "Atoch", which was recorded in the same Madrid train station that was attacked in the 2004 terrorist bombing, is a haunting meditation of the socio-cultural traces left on such public spaces. Though not without a fitting aura of menace, the compositions are far more intricate and listenable than one might first imagine, and Kubisch has achieved a mix of avant-garde experimentation and quizzical pleasure. The agency and power given to the spectator may be the work's ultimate achievement. If only we could hear all the other unseen forces at play in our beguiling world. - David Michael Perez

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