Radio Flirt essentially picks up on themes originally visited by Robin Rimbaud’s now infamous Scanner releases on Ash International more than a decade ago. Famed for their incendiary and intrusive nature, Scanner made his reputation with a series of highly charged and voyeuristic recordings of “found” voices, that ranged from the strange and surreal, to the downright ordinary.
La Belle and Webb have taken their Radio Flirt installation piece, and re-presented it for mass consumption in CD format, re-jigging a kind of personal, narrative poetry, and threading it through a fabric of feedback, radio static, and all manner of electronic soundscaping in much the same way as Scanner did all those years ago.
Contrary to the accompanying press release, that boldly states that the piece is “..an intimate audio experience that aims for the heart and explores the emotional geographies of listening..” I found much of the work here to be sterile, and somewhat staged, almost theatrical in nature, and lacking any of the grit and sharply focussed realism embodied in the Scanner recordings. Perhaps I am drawing an unfair comparison here, and maybe this is just not my cup of tea, but without the voices, and vocalisations, this would have been a much stronger piece, as the bulk of what is being said has little or no tangible reference points, and very little emotive strength. Technically, there is little to challenge, as the recording is crisp and superbly executed, but it’s all just a little too “artful”, and contrived, and for me never got to a second listen (always the litmus test). I’m sure Messrs LaBelle and Webb will no doubt challenge my perspective, but for me, this just wasn’t working, and juxtaposed with raster noton’s recent “Coh Plays Cosey” vocal excursion, which demonstrates a highly original, and incisively creative approach to the medium, Radio Flirt pales in comparison. Very sorry. BGN