Sound Travels

For the last month, I’ve indulged myself in a bit of music writing. For those who know my professional background, it’s in my blood. I co-edited a well-regarded music and politics magazine in the US for nearly eight years, which The Washington Post once called “The New Yorker of punk magazines.” I also served as the label manager of a now-defunct electronic music imprint, for whom I wrote all of the marketing and media copy.

Publishing these pieces anonymously, in Souciant’s new Boombox column, has allowed me the breathing room I’ve needed to resume my former passion. Avoiding traditional music criticism, I’ve used the opportunity to experiment. The first column deals with Italian hip-hop, something near and dear to my heart. The second covers leftists bemoaning the lack of decent music at demonstrations, while the third takes on a bedroom recording about being made an orphan by the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This week’s column is the most formally written of the lot. It’s a dissection of several recordings of Tokyo Rose-style broadcasts, made by NATO forces, during the Libyan War. Posted to Soundcloud, these noisy, Marine band announcements help document the cultural dimension of the struggle against Gadaffi. I go out of my way to brand them field recordings, as they constitute their own ‘found sounds’, captured in the so-called ‘field’.

A field recording enthusiast myself, who has used numerous similar recordings in their own music – the Christal Methodists sampled Christian radio, for example, while the Elders of Zion use live recordings of just about everything – it was a way of tying together my musical interests as a journalist. Here’s to more such explorations. It’s a welcome relief from covering race. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy doing that. I just miss writing about sound.

Massiv CD photographed at Media Markt, Neukölln.