Category Archives: #23

Show 271: Endangered Radio Band by Mobile Radio

replacement programme by Mobile Radio

An intrinsic feature of radio broadcast is on the verge of extinction: interference. Artists have always loved interference. Early memories convey intoxicated sweeps of an old valve radio dial, simultaneous capture of two shortwave stations, the swashing sounds of the in-between as a prerequisite for sleep. The new interference is reduced to metallic distress at the breaking point of digital transmission; the new silence of buffering and disconnect presents a wholly characterless absence. What happens now? Will people forget what a rotary dial is? Will the radio band become an endangered species?
Whilst digital audio technology tries to emulate the analogue sound wave as closely as possible, digital transmission renders the radio spectrum inaccessible. The bits in-between are reallocated or discarded. The noise that changes when you touch the aerial is out of reach. Maybe the caller on the Harmon E. Phraisyar show Album One is correct when she says: “You and your stupid radio programmes, I’m fed up. Tell me this you stupid radio worms: radio interference, often it is that I am getting the interference. Why is it that the interference is always more interesting than the programme itself?” Endangered Radio Band is a performance by Mobile Radio, voyaging the vocal and electromagnetic spectra in search of an answer to this question.

Recorded in Napoli in December 2009 by Etienne Noiseau.
Here is a list of sound sources that were used for the performance (in no particular order) which was distributed on the PA system, and via FM transmitter to portable radios in the room.

– VLF natural radio from Todmorden (UK, 8-8:30pm local time) (live stream)
– electromagnetic sounds from Sony Minidisc recorder MZ30 via telephone coil of a modified analog hearing aid (live)
– broken AM radio (live)
– malfunctioning toy radio purchased in Napoli (live)
– home-made ultrasonic detector (live)
– home-made electronic instrument “Feedbug” via internal fm transmitter (live)
– air traffic radio band receiver (live)
– electromagnetic recording of the journey leaving Zurich for Milano in an Italian Pendolino train on 16/12/2009
– Morse code version of Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate”, recorded in Barrow on 22/10/2009
– Original version of “Ersatzrauschen”, sounds of a defunct Bell&Howard digital 8-track data recorder, recorded in Prague in 2006
– excerpt from the Harmon E. Phraisyar show “Album One: Unthinkable” produced in 2004 for Kunstradio
– cut-up recordings of the 15th and final World Chess Championship Game between Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik on 2/12/2000 (French and English commentary, as well as Kasparov in the press conference)

Show 270: Fremde Dezibel/Stille Post

Fremde Dezibel by maiz/iftaf/trafo.k (2009)

The radioplay “Fremde Dezibel” is based on interviews with migrant women in Linz, the capital of the province Upper Austria and its surroundings. It deals with the interrelations between language, violence, social exclusion and sexism.

The interviews focus on the experiences of the women with the German language and on ways of approaching the language of a majority as member of a minority.

Originally the soundcollage was produced as an audio installation at a project of maiz (festival der regionen 2000). For the project “RebellInnen!” of trafo.K the audiomaterial was remixed and rearranged by Ernst Reitermaier (iftaf), Rubia Salgado (maiz) and Marty Huber (dramatic adviser of the project “RebellInnen”) in 2009.


Stille Post by Alfred Grubbauer, Christine Schörkhuber (2008)

According to the principle of ‘Chinese Whispers’, we initiated a game with language. A text makes three journeys through different languages and is finally translated back into German. What happened to the words throughout the journey, how is a text transformed? Each player added their own imprint to the words and consequently changed their original meaning. There is no ‘wrong’ translation. The course of the text permits a closer look at the possibility of multiple interpretation- and gives us a chance to consciously examinate what it feels like to not-comprehend. The focus is directed towards the heterogenity of a regional population. ‘Stille Post’ is an art project for the public domain; it makes its appearance both visually and acoustically. It is presented in the form of an image/sound object, which is on exhibition throughout different cities of the Mostviertel with a duration of 2-4 weeks each. It’s all about listening, about the silent tones and everything that happens in between the lines.

stille post

Show 269: Klinkende Stad / Sounding City

This seasons XLAIR show is an impression of the Flemish ‘HAPPY NEW FESTIVAL VAN VLAANDEREN KORTRIJK’ and more precise an impression of the sound walk ‘Klinkende Stad / Sounding City’ (The Finest in Flemish sound art). The HNF festival is the successor of the renowned Happy New Ears festival that started in 1996 and came to an end last year. It has grown into one of the most prestigious sound art festivals around. In 2008 The Wire magazine called it: “one of Europe’s premier sound art festivals.” This year the festival took place from the 24th of April until the 9th of May. Klinkende Stad is best described as a sound walk and consists out of 12 different sound related works by Flemish artists, listed below. Since the works are very dependent on specific locations and are very difficult to record or grasp for radiophonic purposes, we tried to make a mix of information, description and sound suggestion. For those who want more information, listen to the 25 minutes interview with the HNF artistic director Joost Fonteyne following the radia show at 15:30.

WORKS & ARTISTS & time codes in the broadcast

“A40 Ruhr” Maria Blondeel (01’00” – 01’10”)

“De Egelantier in de Nachtegaal” Leo Copers (02’00” – 02’15”)

“Staalhemel” Christophe De Boeck (20’30” – 22’30”)

“Shadow Grounds” Pauwel De Buck

“Reflections” Boris Debackere & Steven Devleminck (09’40” – 12’25”)

“Permafrost” Aernoudt Jacobs (22’30” – 25’00”)

“Mahila” Annemie Maes & Bill Bultheel (25’00” – 28’00”)

“Not with a bang but a whimper” Stefaan Quix (12’30” – 15’30”)

“Circuit02” Jeroen Vandesande (15’30” – 20’00”)

“Shifting Grounds” Esther Venrooy & Hans Demeulenaere (07’00” – 09’40”)

“Into the Light of the Night” Els Viaene en Plan B Performance (03’00” – 07’00”)

“Mortuos Plango Vivos Voco” Visual Kitchen (09’40” – 10’30”)

Show 268: The Transmission by r.t. bhoustard


One of the most annoying things about Radio Art is that you have to download it before you can fast-forward through it. In ‘The Transmission’, I’ve very kindly done all the work for you and it comes ‘pre-fast-forwarded’, so to speak. This, in turn, lends the piece a delightfully impenitent narrative structure – but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

Hopefully, as you listen to The Transmission, the question of location will spring to mind. Where are we, in both a geographical and cultural sense? A clue can be gathered from the presence of the two ‘Cockneys’ who appear in the story. Cockneys, for those not in the know, are a lower class London social grouping somewhat irrationally defined by a geophysical attribute – that of having been born within hearing range of a particular set of church bells. The idea that a social group can be branded for life by the mere fact of, at their moment of birth, being with earshot of a distinctive clanging noise is almost as ridiculous as the church in question. St Mary-le-Bow is an ersatz baroque monstrosity sandwiched off The City of London’s Cheapside between the pomposity of St Paul’s cathedral and the shadowy mammon of the Bank of England. Still, I must admit that the bells sound quite pleasant.

Cockney is also defined by a dialect. The best example I can think of is the chimney-hugging ‘Bert’ character in Mary Poppins, meticulously voiced by Dick Van Dyke. I’d be interested to know what dialect is used in the dubbed versions of non-English speaking countries. As for Dick Van Dyke – wow – what a fucking great name!!! Dick is better known to daytime TV victims as the sleuthing doctor in the cross-generic medical/crime drama Diagnosis:Murder. Incidentally, Victoria Rowell who portrayed the glamorous pathologist in that show, uses one of the best strap lines ever to market her kiss and tell confessional ‘Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva’.

‘You gotta get dirty before you can come clean’.

Should you ever find yourself in the drab and dirty City of London, the best way to seek out and unmask a Cockney is to ask them to say two words – ‘Town’ and ‘Water’. Listen carefully to their replies. In the mouth of a Cockney, ‘town’ will lose its distinctive ‘OW’ diphthong to be replaced by a drawling nasal ‘Aaaaaaaaa’, reminiscent of the braying of a sad donkey.

Thus – ‘Taaaaaaaaaaan’ instead of ‘Town’.

‘Water’ will be stripped of it’s sharp ‘ER’ ending and emerge with the definingly dozy non-rhotic ‘ah’ sound.

Thus – ‘Watah’ instead of ‘Water’. Somehow, the pronunciation makes it sound as though all the ‘Watah’ has dried up or leaked away through a hole at the bottom of the swimming pool.

Sci Fi
‘The Transmission’ is based on a soft and simple alternative timeline sci fi premise – that it was Muhammid XII who defeated the combined Catholic armies of Ferdinand and Isabella in the Battle of Granada, 1492, rather than the other way round. No wonder things appear culturally amiss. This is a Europe where women are forbidden to speak to other men but their husbands. They even then have to wait for the husband to deliver a complex series of signs before being granted permission to speak. This gives hint of a brutally misogynistic discourse more likely found in Saudi Arabia than in the heart of contemporary London.

In our particular timeline, the 1492 battle (more correctly, a siege) was the endgame in the gradual removal of the Muslim presence from Iberian soil. This had begun in earnest with the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in the early 13th Century. The final victory, pompously titled ‘La Reconquista’, was sealed by the fall of Granada and the surrender of the Moorish ruler Muhammid XII. Soon afterwards, Ferdinand and Isabella – two raving religious loonies to put it mildly – founded the Spanish Inquisition and set about forcibly converting both Muslims and Jews to Christianity. Indeed, it was a converted jew who organised the financing of Columbus’ expedition to the New World.

In the timeline underpinning The Transmission, history snakes in another direction and it is Muhammid XII who smash the armies of Catholic king and queen and drive the idolatrous ones out of Spain. This victory leads us onto the eventual conquest and Islamicisation of the rest of Europe and the concommitamt institution of an alternative set of cultural norms. Now, our Cockneys are those born within hearing distance of the muezzin’s call – a muezzin perched atop minaret of the Aisha-al-Bow Mosque (named after one of the prophet’s most beloved wives). Incidentally, here’s one for all you Jerry Lee Lewis fans. Aisha, the Prophet’s third wife, was six maybe seven when she was betrothed to Muhammad and all of nine when the marriage was consummated. He was fifty two.

The language and mores of ‘The Transmission’ are loosely informed by Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Perfumed garden, a book of Arabic pornography written in the 15th Century by Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi. The language used is beautifully poetic and strikingly archaic, presumably influenced by the fact that Burton was working from an earlier French translation of the Arabic original. This ties in sweetly with one of ‘The Transmission’s’ themes, the manner in which information is codified and recodified and ultimately distorted into unrecognisable and sometimes delightful forms by the process of cross-cultural transmission.

The French translation of The Perfumed Garden has gathered an amount notoriety in that it excised the last part of al-Nafzawi’s manuscript – the explicitly gay stuff. In later life, Burton set to work on his own version from the Arabic, a translation that was to include all the original material be called ‘The Scented Garden’. We don’t know how Burton got on because his staunchly Catholic wife, opting for a proto-nazi position, flung the manuscript into the flames.

Credit where credit’s due – the ‘Why do you call me “O Man”’ idea that takes the form of a running joke in ‘The Transmission’ is a straight lift from al-Nafzawi’s (and Burton’s) book.

At what point can a technology be considered dead and buried? How redundant does it have to become it vanishes completely. The other day I saw a blank C90 cassette for sale in Central London for the price of about nine Euros. ‘Ah’, I mused, ‘The cassette is at last becoming an object of rarity, an exoticism, hence this ludicrous price for something you could pick up for a few pence ten years ago.’ Ask yourself this: Who stocks minidisks these days and does anyone remember how wide a five inch floppy disk is?

In ‘The Transmission’, the two main characters are collectors of the priceless and the extinct, prepared to travel the world and undergo many trials and hardships in pursuit of exotica. The humble compact cassette tape (that space age invention that sealed the fortunes of Dutch multinational electronic company Phillips) has joined the list of desirables having become an object of extreme scarcity. And even though a few tapes still exist, there is nothing to play them back on.


Kristine Brunovska Karnick has written that ‘Humour complicates and frustrates the spectator’s inferences about the narrative’. While humour is employed for this very effect, comedy is not itself the primary goal of ‘The Transmission’. My objective is to array elements of comedy (the running joke, unpredictability, incongruity-resolution) alongside stock b-movie themes of acquisition and impending disaster to create a delightfully disruptive text. When the Soviet system crumbled, the only regrettable result was that it took away the sole state-scaled opposing reality to the technologically astonishing, economically brutal, environmentally lethal Western society we have allowed nationalistic and globally corporate greed to conjure into existence.
We live in a mono-reality into which we are supposed to slot our strivings, ambitions, japes, joys, loves, lies and permeable madnesses. Personally, I find it a bleak and inadequate container.

My conception of a disruptive narrative is one that exposes or at least provides an index for a vast subset of practical realities. Not fancies, feathers, ideals and fantasies but empirically sparkling incarnations of ontology. This attempt at an exposition of sorts is the actual transmission that takes place in the course of the piece.

r.t. bhoustard may 2010

Show 267: Orbitary Krapp’s Last Tape

—upper lake, with the punt, bathed off the bank, then pushed out into the stream and drifted. She lay stretched out on the floorboards with her hands under her head and her eyes closed. Sun blazing down, bit of a breeze, water nice and lively. I noticed a scratch on her thigh and asked her how she came by it. Picking gooseberries, she said. I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going on and she agree, without opening her eyes. Pause. I asked her to look at me and after a few moments—Pause.—after a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent over her to get them in the shadow and they opened. Pause. Low. Let me in. Pause. We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down, sighing, before the stem! Pause. I lay down across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side

play by: Zlatko Mitrevski
directed by: Riste Aleksovski
music by Sasa Pavlovic

Show 266: two factories by Carlos Santos & Paulo Raposo

The program departs from field recordings made on two abandoned factories on the industrial outskirt of Lisbon. The sollected sounds explore the empty space, the empty rooms and technological leftovers and debris of what once was breathing with life, people and machinery. the factories were central to the villages providing employment and subsistence to thousands of families. Now they are just a shadow, a strange body, waiting in decay for replacement and erasure. Besides the sounds, the program contains readings from the current legislation on unemployment as published on the portuguese labour laws, “diário da républica”.

Show 263: Miniatures by Pierre Yves Macé

Radio Grenouille opens the new season of Radia and celebrates the fifth anniversary of the international soundart network,

inviting the composer Pierre-Yves Macé to share his collection of “Miniatures”. A subtle mosaic made of “grands touts and petits riens” to rub concrete materials to the spirit of the times, dipping into the fluctuating fonds of web, movies and songs.

28 minutes about a meeting between the instant and the unstable, unstructured and restructured songs, exiled voices and transitional piano …