by Rafael González
Thanks to Hal McGee I have had the privilege of hearing a preview of "Selected Sound Works (1981-2021)" by Joseph Nechvatal, which is released in cassette format by Pentiments Records and also available digitally on the label's Bandcamp page.
What did I find in "Selected Sound Works (1981-2021)"? Something really very inspiring and very precious to me!
Joseph Nechvatal is an American artist known among other things for being the co-founder, in 1983, of the avant-garde electronic art music audio project Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine. I greatly regret having never previously heard any of his sound works because of the enormous surprise and pleasure that I have experienced after listening to his sound creations contained in this wide-ranging collection, which includes complete pieces and excerpts of works from the 80's to the present time: live radio mixes, musique concrète, synthesizer and guitar noiseworks, plunderphonics and cut-ups, excerpts from cassette releases, simulated audio viral attacks, tape and computer manipulations, radio plays, and much more.
Many of the readers and friends of Electronic Cottage tend to nostalgia for cassettes, analog instruments and other old gadgets. At least this is my tendency sometimes because all of those lovely things of the past are still very funny and they provide beautiful aesthetic experiences. Listening to Nechvatal's recent works contained in this collection I have had the same pleasure and enjoyment as I might have felt in the 80's or 90's, and listening to his works of those earlier times gave me the feeling that they could have been made yesterday. Because the theme, the substrate remains today. Perhaps the very good remastering of the old pieces has helped to get this feeling, but I haven't had the feeling of listening to a relic. Now all that flow of pop music, noise, news, interference and announcements reaches us via digital, in much greater quantity, it is true, but it doesn't make much difference. If in his early works he used tapes, vinyl, radio and guitars… and in more recent times he uses software, digital information and computer viruses, the conceptual idea underlying the tracks compiled in this release is the same, in my opinion.
It is also very interesting to pay good attention to Joseph Nechvatal's visual works, since they keep a strong interrelation with his sound production, as we can also perceive in the cover of the release of which I am making this small review.
The best summary I can give of what you will hear on this cassette or in its digital edition is … Warning to lovers of cut-ups, no wave, sound collages, musique concrète, radio art, sound poetry and digital noise... you're going to love this release!