A sunseatar review

December 14, 2007

sunseastar cd

Via ‘the Sound Projector’ site. Not exactly favorable but i see what he’s getting at. Being accused of being ‘Boring and tidy’ is a first. Nevertheless, thanks ed.

sunseastar offer a very artistic set of field recordings on their Fjærland CD. The idea is apparently something to do with creating musique concrète out of genuinely chaotic processes found in nature, such as ‘insects moving through grass’. In this endeavour they hope to emulate (or perhaps even go one better than) Xenakis, who used stochastic processes to construct his music. The duo of Andy Wilson (author of the excellent book about Faust) and Simon Crab, both of whom have been associated with Bourbonese Qualk, accordingly travelled to various exciting locations over the last two years, documented what they may, and brought back these eight cuts. All the sounds we hear have been extensively reworked, of course. What’s rather worrying so far that (a) the chosen locations include all the usual suspects already used by everyone from Chris Watson to Disinformation – a pebble beach, glaciers in Norway, a military testing ground, and a nuclear reactor; and (b) how boring and tidy the music sounds, despite their avowed interest in the exciting powers of ‘chaos’. Well, score one for the insects! Still, there is clearly intelligence and research operating here, so I will persevere.

Sounds From Memory #3: Riot.

December 12, 2007

The intention of these series of posts is to document sounds that have remained in memory. Not sounds that are particularly pleasant or trigger ‘Proustian Resonance’ but unique sounds that once heard are never forgotten (therefore impossible to reproduce or record). If i get enough – and please add your own – i’ll organise them into a top ten ‘mnemaudio’ chart.

poll tax riot london 1989Miles was the first casualty, and, I always maintain, the inspiration for the violence that took place at the Trafalgar Square Anti-Poll Tax protest in 1989. During what was an admittedly tense but peaceful sit down protest in front of Downing Street, Miles charged at the Police brandishing a metal pole. He was immediately floored, struck on the head by a brick thrown from the police lines*. Seconds later the police panicked and sent mounted riot squads charging into the unarmed protesters, this event ignited a day of fierce fighting in the centre of London. For six hours the police held protesters in the square: The sound that fixed in my memory is the combined roar of bottles and bricks being thrown, burning buildings, screams, police sirens, helicopters, horses, whistles and ambulances which, after six hours, merged into one high pitched continuous distorted scream. This noise stayed with me for weeks, day and night -a kind of hysterical tinnitus.

trafalgar square 1989

*I dragged miles to an ambulance which took him to hospital. A few hours later he discharged himself, concussed, dripping blood from a head wound he returned to the battle pressing home his assault on the forces of ‘law and order’.


Part 1: ‘Long Range Audio Device’

Baghdad, Fallujah, New York, Tbilisi

Designed and built by the American technology Corporation in 2005 and originally designed as a ship to ship hailing device to protect US naval shipping, LRAD is now used by the Illegal American occupation forces in Iraq as an assault weapon, by the US government on their own people as part of their ‘non lethal’ arsenal for crowd control and more recently by the (US sponsored) Georgian state to repress internal dissent.

LRAD emits a high pitched warning tone “similar to a fire alarm” or a series of ‘verbal challenges’ (translatable through an inbuilt ‘phrase-olator’ or online via TCP/IP connection “immediately retrieve thousands of messages recorded by the Defense Language Institute”) over a maximum effective land distance of 300metres at a volume of120-150db(1.). Used at medium range and beyond the manufactures specified duration the device is capable of delivering sounds well beyond the human pain theshold (120 – 140 dB); at a distance of 90m the LRAD will cause intense pain and permanent hearing loss(2.)


(image: back of the LRAD)

The LRAD is basically a series of in-phase speakers (not a infra-sound generator as commonly supposed). The phasing of the sound (combined amplitude giving louder sound) gives the device the ability to project high frequency sounds over a long distance at high volume.To focus the sound the LRAD uses a set of out of phase speakers around the perimeter of the device to phase-cancel the sound giving a directional arc of 30 degrees. Fifteen degrees outside the beam, the volume drops about 20 dB which although still loud means that the operator can focus the LRAD to a specific target without being themselves affected.


  • Range: 300 meters over land or 500 meters (1640 feet) over water.
  • Beam width: About 30 degrees
  • Size: 33-inch diameter by 5-inch thickness
  • Weight: 45 lbs
  • Input: Microphone, laptop, MP3 player, CD player, ‘Phraselator’ translation device
  • Maximum Volume: 120 dB at 1 meter in normal operation, 146 dB sustained or 151 dB burst at 1 meter with override

(1.) The American Technology Corporation (ATCO)
(2.)Carl Gruenler, (former) vice president of military and government operations for American Technology Corp