Artist: Hal McGee, plus a barrage of musicians from around the world
WTF project: International Email Audio Art Project
Tags: mail art, postal art, correspondence art, collaboration, collage, chance process, DIY, homemade music, experimental music, electronic music, noise, field recordings, cut-ups, lo-fi, lo-tech, circuit bending, hacking, punk folk, compilation, anarcho-libertarianism, art of the everyday, fluxus, spoken word, spontaneous poetics, guerilla and street music, uncovering the latent potentials of the Internet for networking, cultural inclusivity and openness and interactivity
WTF quality: An internet based project comprised solely of one minute tracks bundled into 60 track volumes running the gamut of what creative artists connected to the internet feel worth sharing
Lifespan: 2010 -
Country: Hub location Florida USA, The WORLD
The Homemade Music Movement has grown from the roots of the Mail Art Movement, and in order to pay due respect and acknowledge these origins, I propose an international EMAIL audio art project in which contributors will send to me a one-minute miniature audio work in mp3 format (plus visual works if desired) attached to an email. These works will be published together in volumes online.
I first found out about this from fellow WTFucker Yoshihiro Kikuchi, who submitted a track on WTFM some time ago which had been included in this project. From there I found out about the mastermind of the whole thing, Hal McGee, to whom I got connected on Facebook, and proceeded to download the first three volumes from the internet archive. Due to mishaps in the tagging department, when these tracks got loaded into iTunes (along with a whole bunch of other stuff simultaneously) they were a total mess, with various different or no album names, track numbers that didn't make sense, and no way to bundle them together without manually scanning the tracklists and inputting the information. Fuck that. But this allowed me a very strange introduction to this body of work. Since tracks were scattered about in my "recently added" playlist (where all the wtf and other downloaded stuff goes), they would come on in spurts between other albums, sometimes several at a time, in random order, and I never knew when or if or anything about it, other than thinking, "oh, that must have been another one of those 60 second tracks. Huh."
Here's the sausage frank, something all the dudes and babes in the hyper know of the netra-sphere of new music distribution and listening paradigm shifting ideology have been talking about - how we listen to music is changing. The idea of the album is passing on into ephemera, like the symphony did in the last century. As did the opera which was replaced by film. Even the idea of song is slowly losing its footing, at least in the sense it was once known. Sure why not, our concept of music is not what it used to be. Personally for me and collectively. Yeah, fuck, we hear so much about how iPods changed the listening habits of a generation, just like CDs and cassettes and records and radio and wax cylinders and player pianos and brainwashed monkeys in tuxedos with bows on catgut strings had done in generations past. I don't want to get all pseudo-philosophical-historical on this piece, but something about this IEAAP screams concept. Hal is way into this stuff, from what I gather.
The tagging issue seems to have been cleared up and the following volumes are all organized, I think, but I can't verify that because I decided to listen to them all on the internet archives instead. Funky-ass player keeps stopping on me for no reason, alas part of the experience. Funny thing is, this is a total sporadic collage of sounds, very little coherence to it whatsoever other than the constant shifting from one scene to the next every 60 seconds. Many tracks are cut up in themselves, although it seems track order was considered. Of that I can't be sure. It's a mosaic. Since every piece stands out on its own, basically nothing stands out, all the lines are blurred, the fragmentary monster takes shape.
Time warp 1981 Hal McGee gets into homemade taping. Why? What's that all about? From growing up listening to rock music, developing a taste for avant-garde and experimental music, the homemade tape scene was a big revelation, something hidden, secret, unknown to society at large, and vastly exciting for young Hal.
Contemptuous of the mind-numbing vacuousness of the mainstream music industry these homemade experimental audio recording artists blazed paths of their own choosing, often in a highly personal manner, their sounds mirroring or reflecting their personal experiences. When you received a cassette in the mail from a trading partner you knew that this was a special object, one of few in number, sometimes with elaborate or even very simple homemade/handmade artwork to accompany it
They were tweaking, improvising, sound painting, conceptualizing, and sound-metabolizing, trading tapes, and copying and releasing them to the whoever, seeds to the wind, all merely by copying from home. Rubbing stamps with big underground names like Nurse with Wound and Merzbow.
Now. Internet is the new medium, where people can collaborate. Fast. New. Fresh. Convenient. Bold. Limitless. Just like cardboard and combustion engines, but no smell. I would like to research into each of these artists and their releases in the IEAAP, but I don't have the time or the gusto for that. I can tell you what I have seen from scanning the list of artists - there are some repeats, some regulars on the scene - Hal himself, Tree, Bryan Lewis Saunders, Jaan Patterson, Anton Mobin... Anton Mobin who was also in the Classwar Karaoke Comp (reviewed on wtfm), which also featured Ian Simpson of Noise Research (also on the IEAAP), who runs the ephre imprint label (another WTFM review), and Lezet, who was both in the Classwar Karaoke comp and reviewed individually here on WTFM, and the harbinger of all this (to WTFM), Yoshihiro Kikuchi, who crashed at my place once, and I'm sure a host of other connections and collaborative webs can be discovered, especially if your name is Hal McGee. Oh shit, Scissor Shock's on there too.
So what about the music. Well I can just say there is a shitload of all kinds of 60 second music. Some pop stuff too, which is always fun when you're immersed in abstract sound-paintings. My personal stand-out track comes from volume 1, a nice little ditty called "a minute of your life" by Lord Litter. Just a lo-fi synth-pop folk song which sums these little gingerbread slices of time for me:
this is just a minute of your life, many more to come
goes so fast, till it's not that short; many more to come
this was just a minute of your life, many more to come
I'm submitting a track to Hal for volume 7. Just something recorded from my bedroom, something 100% digital until it hits the speakers. You can all take part in this, of course, very easily in fact.
Check out Hal's website, with information on his many projects throughout his career, plus interviews and links to lots of music. Lots and lots.
this leads to everything. The IEAAP link is on the top of the page. Click it. There are links to the archives from there.
The tapes are all decaying somewhere. The hard drives are running and spitting out impulses, to you, and to me, and from all over the fucking place. And these too will decay.