Decolonoising the Mind

The ugly sound of rampant globalisation: two noise pieces based on sounds from the Argentinian desert and the sound of a coffee grinder and a statistic on coffee consumption in Germany. / Der krasse Krach fehlgeleiteter Globalisierung: Zwei Noise-Stücke, basierend auf Klängen aus der argentinischen Wüste sowie dem Klang einer Kaffeemühle und einer Statistik über den Kaffeekonsum in Deutschland.

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Some more information on „2666: El Norte (Paisaje sonoro desertico)“

This piece is based on the field recording „Paisaje sonoro desertico“ from the Sonidos en Causa archive by Orquestra del Caos: http://www.sonoscop.net/sonoscop/sonidosencausa/argentina.html#tomas and was created for the Zeppelin Festival 2011 in Barcelona.

The basic idea of the piece is that economic change often results in a desertification, both literal and metaphoric, of natural and human conditions. This is why I chose the sound file “Paisaje sonoro desertico” as the source material for the piece. Instead of focusing on recognisable local elements of the place in Argentina where it was recorded, I wanted to express the sense of desolation that invests many places where massive economic change has happened or is about to happen. From the vantage point of Argentina, the source of this sound, one of these places may well be the Mexican-US border, a place which has become a symbol of the North-South divide in today’s globalised economy.

Roberto Bolaño’s novel “2666” is a potent literary document of the violence caused by this global division of labour in which the poor South is to supply the drugs that keep the rich North going at no matter what body count. This is why I chose “2666” as the compositional basis for producing this piece. It was defined as a composition of 2 x 6 tracks of 266.6 seconds each in duration, with no more than 2 effects devices and no more than 6 discrete actions used on each of the tracks.
The fact that it was impossible for me to determine before the actual performance what the piece was going to sound like to the listening subject is part and parcel of the piece’s metaphorical strategy. In this composition, just like in the global stock market economy, many actions that may seem rational in themselves coincide to create one (or two) hell(s) of an apocalyptic scenario: 2 x 666.

“2666: El Norte” certainly is a piece of experimental music in the way defined by John Cage: process takes precedence over result. The chance elements used in the piece are not seen, as is often the case with Cage, as an expression of freedom. On the contrary, what the piece is aiming to express is the oppressive nature of individual economic decisions (cf. stock market) accumulating to create a dangerous state of chaos.

The compositional framework of “2666”, then, is something of a Marxist re-reading of Cage’s rather a-political Zen anarchism. It is also true, however, that two of the 2 x 6 tracks are allowed to break out of the compositional framework. More than 2 effects and 6 actions were allowed on these tracks in recognition of the fact that the desire of human beings for freedom will eventually prevail in some way, no matter how deformed.

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