Various Artists – EXTRACT – Book/CD – Non Visual Objects


It is encouraging that at last there seems to be a genuine groundswell of interest in the sonic arts here in the UK, in part stimlulated, no doubt by groundbreaking tomes by David Toop, followed by his inspirational Sonic Boom Festival in London some years back, which to some extent defined the paradigm shift in public understanding and acceptance of sound art. The accompanying book/catalogue was also representative of a weighty cross- section of sound artists in the world at the time. This was followed by another thoroughly defining book, “Blocks of Consciousness” issued by Sounds323, that has quickly become a kind of ready reference manual for neophytes, would-be sound artists, and sonic art adherents alike. The arrival in the UK of artists such as Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, and RLW, playing in prestigious venues such as the Barbican, Tate Modern, and Sage Centre, also indicate a subtle shift of interest into more obscure, and radical approaches to sound work. Now comes the beautifully produced EXTRACT, by specialist label Non Visual Objects, whose output over the last couple of years has cast a bright light over the genre of minimalism, with a series of exquisitely produced releases that focus primarily on the ultra-minimal, both in terms of design and presentation.

This book, rather than following tried and tested routes trawling the theoretical aspects of sound, takes a warmer, and more intimate approach by selecting sound artists who are very much “of the moment”, and gaining insights into their psyche by asking stock questions about early influences, recent influences, working methods, collaborations, connections to local art scenes, etc ,etc.

What is interesting about this approach is that it becomes a kind of census of a representative cross section of artists, which in itself reveals patterns and commonalities that perhaps may not be obvious to the layman, and are refreshingly re-assuring to others, like myself, who operate within this field. Some of these commonalities such as encounters with the sounds of air conditioning systems, heating systems, refrigerators etc in formative years are deeply interesting, as they become the catalyst for experiments in later life for many of these artists, and indicate a predisposition to the more cerebral and marginalised elements of contemporary culture.

The majority of these artists also appear to be operating in relative isolation with respect to local music scenes and the art establishment, and it is only via the internet, and their respective record labels that they have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and audience alike. Other common themes appear to be that many of these artists are also deeply interested in nature, and natural systems; they also have great sensitivity to the visual arts (many also being visual artists as well). Recurring themes also appear to be Kraftwerk, Burroughs, Cage, Eno, all in themselves highly revealing as sources and origins of inspiration, as very few of these influences are inherently “minimal” in their approach.

I have deliberately not singled out any one artist for scrutiny here, preferring to deal with EXTRACT as a product to be dealt with holistically. From a purely subjective point of view, the strength of this book lies in it’s position of defining minimalism not only as a musical/sonic genre, but as a microcosmic social network, a spiritual economy based upon the communal exchange of information, goods, and most importantly, ideas. The selection of artists in the spotlight in this publication is by no means exhaustive, and prominent figures such as Chartier and Deupree, Tietchens, Gunter, Steinbruchel, Roden, are positioned alongside relative newcomers such as Dale Lloyd, Tomas Philips, Michael Vorfeld for example. This in turn presents a wider spectrum of possibility for those interested in pursuing the work of all of these artists, and in a wider sense, stimulating interest in minimalism in general. The CD’s enlcosed within the end papers of the book will surely emerge as a “who’s who” of the genre, very much in the way that Selektion’s “Tulpas” did in the 90’s, and will be reviewed here at some later point.

EXTRACT itself is a relatively quick read (I did it in under an hour), but it’s influence, and implications will remain with me, and others for many years, I am certain.  An absolutely essential insight for anyone interested in minimalism…BGN


About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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