WRECK: Situationist Soundscrape
- wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 97.2 ~ Amsterdam
Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies: no. 226: sounds©®@pe
Maandag, 28 Juli 2003 (17.00 to 19.00)
"The world we live in, and beginning with its material decor, is
discovered to be narrower by the day. It stifles us. We yield
profoundly to its influence; we react to it according to our
instincts instead of according to our aspirations. In a word, this
world governs our way of being and it grinds us down."
o The Situationists, 1958
My Ocean > Black Sifichi 
Sub > 87 Central 
Summertime [repeated ambient excerpt] > Billy Holiday 
Tahiti & Blue Hawaii [incidental slide guitar moments > Hal Aloma &
His Hawaiians 
Danse Aquatique > Gordon Monahan 
A Pattern of Islands > Mike Cooper 
Antenne Parabolique > A. Dontigny & Dianne Labrosse 
Misty [at 28 rpms!] > Fred van Zegveld 
Something Spooked the Horses > Zoviet France 
Portable > Tone Rec 
Brutal Truth 3210 > Video Avventures 
With Freddy on the Lawn > Paul Sturm 
Power of Thought > Cortex Burn 
My Ocean > Black Sifichi 
+ Crabfish > John Levack Drever 
Phonographies of Exeter > John Levack Drever 
Contre-Porte > Silk Saw 
Skateboarding South Bank > Dallas Simpson 
Sensitive Chaos > Hildegard Westerkamp 
Skip Hip Hop > Paul Panhuysen 
Parka Bodil > Tone Rec 
An Aesthetic of Bird Calls > Mike Cooper 
Nausea > A Small Good Thing 
Yoga for Health > Richard Hittleman 
My Ocean > Black Sifichi 
Triturations > Magali Babin 
Hasel44 > Mimetic Mute 
Electron Gate > Zoviet France 
Death of the Composer > Brandon Labelle et al. 
Viva la Selva! > Natasha Barrett 
 "Ambient Excursion" on MFS Records. The ocean becomes a hunk of
sonic clay surging from conch shell to inner ear.
 "Saxmower" on JdK <www.jdkproductions.com>. Uh oh, water on the
floor of the power station and the guy is tickling live wires with
his bare toes.
 "The Best of Billy Holiday" on CBS, 1990. George Gershwin song by
sung by BH it evokes the languid and approaching dog days
 "A Musical Portrait of Hawaii" on Columbia vinyl. Hawaii is not a
bowling alley but maybe it's a miniature golf course.
 "Music Works 85" on SOCAN <www.musicworks.ca> Excellent
collections and journal focused on sounds that stretch our aural
perceptions beyond what we thought necessary. Excerpt from Monahan's
"When it Rains" sound installation which manipulates the sound of
raindrops falling on 24 suspended objects.
 "Kiribati" on Cooparia <cooparia@...> Excellent
manipulated ambiences from a sinking South Seas island.
 "Telepathie" on No Type <www.notype.com> Intriguing scrapings
from those intra-psyche organs located below the cerebellum that
resemble old radio tubes.
 "Dynamite" on Basart vinyl. Nerd ambient psychedelia played on a
Hammond organ. Just saw the excellent Clint Eastwood film "Play Misty
for Me" on tv. This is a creepy-great rendition.
 "The Decriminalization of Country Music" on Tramway. Soundings
and manipulations of an industrial space from the masters of warm
spiritual analog ambiences and strange loops that seem to
syncreticize nature and rusting industrial One of my all-time fave
 "Coucy-Park" on Sub Rosa. Working in the sonic dumpsters of
discarded sounds just below the acceptable thresholds of audibility
and aesthetic appreciation.
 Negativland retrievals in France. Playful and mendacious snipping.
 Paul Sturm has made some incredibly evanescent subsonic
explorations of subliminal and ulterior experiences outside the realm
of normal consciousness. Beautiful stuff. Off an old 1992[!] WFMU WTM
radio show tape.
 "De Pelos" on Black Note <www.deconstructionist.com/blacknote>.
A sonic snip snip cut and paste and lots of turntable vs mixer
deconstructions but surprisingly fluid, melodic, river flowing with
lots of echo and reverb.
 "Phonographies: Glasgow, Frankfurt, Exeter" on Sound-Marked
<www.sounding.org.uk>. Excellent sonic canvases and portraits of 3
areas that portrays the Human in the world of sound. How to make
sense of our place and how we digest sound.
 "4th Dividers" on Ant-Zen <www.ant-zen.com> Excellent dialog
between man, gadgetry, and indifferent surroundings.
 "London Soundscapes" on Waterpump
<waterpump@...>. DS is one of the more intrepid and
honest of the soundscape scrapers. His human intrusions are always
 "Site of Sound: Of Architecture & the Ear" a compilation/book on
Errant Bodies <www.smartpress.com> includes many sonic
investigations. HW reminds me of what Henry Thoreau might have been
doing had he been alive today. Brandon Labelle in "Architecture of
Noise": "the SI structured their architecture on a theory of noise,
dissonance, one which is inherent to the natural conditions of urban
life... The SI aimed to combat not only architecture as a form but as
an extension of capitalism and its apparatus of productivity. It
intentionally embraced detritus and debris, the overlooked and the
ruined remnants of old Paris."
 "Mexican Jumping Beans" on Apollohuis <apollohs@...>. The
first music of beans that has nothing to do with flatulence or back
talk. These beans hop like something off the skins of Max Roach.
First duet ever between beans and man!
 "Solar: A Music Travelogue vol. 1" on Soleilmoon
<info@...>. Also includes Rapoon, Paul Schutze, Jorge
Reyes and a hi-fi market in Bangkok.
 "Yoga for Health" on YFH vinyl. While you imbibe on a
cornucopeia of sound you too can become a guru in your own ADHD-RSI
 "Chemin de Fer" on No Type <www.notype.com> Sounds produced by
percussive metallic instruments recycled and reinvented by Magali.
 Negative" on Prikosnovenie <prikos@...> Wedged between
industrial, ethnic beats, post-world, and noisy ambiences that
 "Social Music" on Errant bodies <www.errantbodies.org>. Where
does sound take us and why?
 "Isostasie" on Empreintes Digitales <www.electrocd.com>. These
sounds from a forest offers an idea of perspective, distance,
mechanics of communication among and between species of animals and
insects. NB: "the change in dynamics over a 24-hour period, and my
experience venturing through a dense jungle"
o Ralph Rumney: A March 2002 Obit
(via Tosh at TamTam Books <http://www.tamtambooks.com>)
Andrew Hussey who wrote the Guy Debord biography "The Game of War"
wrote this obit of Ralph Rumney for the Independent.
The artist-writer Ralph Rumney was one of the founding members of the
A recent book by Alan Woods, The Map is Not the Territory (2001),
gives a lucid and witty account of Rumney's encounters and arguments
with key figures in the history of the 20th- century avant-garde,
such as William Burroughs, Georges Bataille, Yves Klein, Félix
Guattari and, most significantly, Guy Debord. Above all it reveals
Rumney as an imaginative and singular artist, a fact which until
recently had been largely forgotten in his home country.
Debord and his fellow Situationists believed that, for the first time
in history, human beings were no longer participants in but rather
spectators of their own lives. This was because in all spheres of
human activity reality is consistently being replaced by images. (The
process is best described in Debord's 1967 book La Société du
spectacle, which most heavyweight commentators in France now agree
was the key text of May 1968.) Rumney himself gave a neat description
of "Situationism" as "artistic, political and philosophical games
which provoked an extreme reaction, and which put you back in touch
with real experience, real life".
Rumney was born in 1934 in Newcastle and raised in Halifax, where his
father was a vicar. His career began when he encountered the works of
Karl Marx and the Surrealists as an adolescent in Halifax public
library. He went on to order the complete works of the Marquis de
Sade, not realising that at that time any student of the works of the
"Divine Marquis" needed dispensation from the Archbishop of
Canterbury. Rumney's father was outraged to receive a letter from the
Bishop of Leeds enquiring after the moral health of his son and even
more outraged to find that his son was a pervert.
To add insult to injury, Rumney was also subsequently dismissed from
his local Communist Party for a lack of moral rectitude. Aged 18, and
already with a semi-criminal past, via a brief escapade in Sicily,
Rumney washed up in the early 1950s in the cafés and bars at the
heart of avant-garde Paris.
He was described by a friend who knew him then as "an innocent
abroad". But Rumney also possessed a sharp intellect and artistic
ambitions. It was not long before he fell in with equally sharp and
ambitious minds in the form of Gil Wolman, the film-maker and artist,
and then Guy Debord, drinker and would-be poet.
I first met Rumney in 1996 as I was writing a book on Guy Debord.
Rumney's opinion of the man was clear:
"Guy Debord was the most intelligent man that I ever met. It was an
honour to have known him." In 1957, at a bar in the Ligurian Alps,
Debord founded the Situationist International. Ralph Rumney was
present ... "We were fanatics," he says, "but we weren't wrong."
Rumney's own career as an artistic revolutionary was cruelly
interrupted when "real life" intervened in his personal game-plan. On
8 March 1967, at their exquisite flat on the Ile Saint-Louis in
Paris, his wife Pegeen, daughter of the millionairesss and art
collector Peggy Guggenheim, killed herself with an overdose. Rumney
had married her in Venice in 1958. He immediately found himself
inexplicably loathed by Guggenheim and her acolytes. "My only crime
was that I wasn't a sycophant and Peggy had to be surrounded by
sycophants," he said. "I spoke to her like an equal, like a grown-up,
because that was how I'd been brought up, and she simply didn't like
The night that Pegeen died was only the beginning of the nightmare
for Rumney, who found himself accused by the Guggenheims of aiding
and abetting her suicide. Their prestige, reputation, money and
lawyers made it impossible for him to overcome the vicious slurs. He
was forced to live undercover in Paris, where he was none the less
trailed constantly by Guggenheim's private detectives. On the advice
of a friend, he finally made for London, where, penniless and
desperate, he was obliged to take a job as a telephone operator
Rumney later married Michèle Bernstein, Debord's first wife and one
of the most rigorously intellectual and courageous of all the
Situationists. Although they were to divorce, the relationship
remained amicable and intimate. By the mid-1990s, after periods in
Italy and England, Rumney decided to return to his avant-garde
The impulse for this return was his notion that in recent years, as
Debord predicted, the term "society of the spectacle" had itself
become a cliché, entering the post-modern lexicon to describe any
contemporary process from the playful pursuit of designer
consumerism, globalisation, New Labour, the internet and celebrity
worship. "You have to remember," he remarked recently, "that at Cosio
we were declaring a war against the modern world, not celebrating it."
Rumney's return to form was marked most clearly in the summer of 2000
when, under the aegis of the original London Psychogeographical
Committee, which he founded in 1956, he brought "psychogeographers"
from five countries to Manosque, the small town in Haute Provence
where he lived, for a month of drink, debate and art
o Power to the Psychogeographers
Simon Parker, February 22, 2002, The Guardian
(via Dave M <http://www.wfmu.org/~davem>)
Those who think of the Situationists at all probably associate them
with the Paris riots of 1968. This obscure group of artists and
drunks were among those who occupied the Sorbonne and plotted
revolution. Their fame is based upon a handful of books and a couple
of natty slogans painted onto the walls of Paris - "Free the
Passions", "Never Work", "Live Without Dead Time".
What is less well known is that Guy Debord and his disciples were
also radical town planners, whose ideas are only now beginning to
come back into fashion. The Situationists were a group that wanted a
revolution in urban design, allowing citizens themselves to decide
what kind of spaces and architecture they wanted to live in
Debord's analysis of the city was based on psychogeography - which
the Situationists defined as the study of the effects of geographical
settings, consciously managed or not, acting directly on the mood and
behaviour of the individual. Putting people in control of planning
might sound like simple common sense, but many contemporary
psychogeographers argue that even today's town and city planners have
failed to learn much from Debord's theories
The problem for urban designers is that people always want to break
the rules that planners try to set them. The design of the great
council estates of the 1950s and 60s was a failure, suggests Mr
McKay, precisely because planners sought to create communities
without bothering to examine how people wanted to live their lives
Contemporary psychogeographers put a great deal of emphasis on
examining the myriad experiences people have of living in a city. A
sports supporter might see a city in terms of the route to the
football ground, and the quality of his or her experience might be
defined in terms of what they hear, see or do on the way. This is why
some groups of psychogeographers are keen on "mood mapping" -
charting cities by the way they make people feel rather than their
At the more radical end of the scale a group of artists calling
itself the Nottingham Psychogeographical Unit argues that there are
already too many buildings and calls for all new developments to be
stopped immediately. Recent new buildings should be torn down
according to popular demand from local residents, they say, and
citizens should be given total administrative power over development.
The aim is to allow the city to grow in an organic way, guided by
local needs and "opening ourselves and our cities up to the
possibility of experiencing higher moments of life". Some
psychogeographical groups have also brought the occult into their
study of the city, becoming obsessed with ley-lines and other new age
The avant garde founding fathers of psychogeography would probably be
horrified at the mainstream and moderate uses to which their
philosophy is being put. But Mr McKay does have one radical proposal
of which Debord would have been proud. "I really believe that if
planners were required to live in the conurbations they plan, and
some are, their awareness of the subtle psychogeographies at work
would quickly come into focus," he said.
o Brooklyn Psychogeographical Association + Glowlab
(http://www.glowlab.com) = Psy-Geo-Conflux an event of some months
back that featured psychogeographers from around the world. There's
been a surge in interesting and creative psychogeographical activity
going on in the past year in the U.S. and Europe, mainly urban walks
using various kinds of algorithms, but a lot of other things as well.
more details: <http://www.glowlab.com/psygeocon_intro.html>
o Also check out Wilfried Hou Je Bek's [Willy Shut-yer-Mouth]:
Send all sound material for airplay and review to:
Wreck This MeSS
Radio 100 / Radio Patapoe
Zeilstraat 23 / II
1075 SB Amsterdam
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o "plus another few hundred when it hits the BSI list!" Ezra
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o Recent selected Playlists [early stages] at
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<http://www.3ammagazine.com> under the title "Radiophotogram: Visual
Radio". Also posted is a depth-of-focus interview with Judy Nylon and
excerpts from my quasi-eroto-geographical paris novel, PARIS SEX TETE
SDI > SELF DESTRUCTION INSURED >
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