Playing with Words: an audio compilation | Various Artists


Playing with Words: an audio compilation | Various Artists

Gruen 065 | Audio CD > [order]



The work on this audio compilation is part of an intermittent ongoing tradition of artistic investigation of spoken language. The pieces included here negotiate potential oppositions such as semantic play and abstraction, musical and narrative structures, speech and song, one voice and many. Influences have been drawn from many sources including poetry, music, song, theatre, typography and graphic art, philosophy, radio, performance art, linguistics, fine art, literature and of course the keen observation and experience of the very many varieties of human communication that we all encounter and participate in every day.


The concerns of these contemporary artists in many cases relate back to their historical antecedents such as the poets, performers and other artists working with sound in the early part of the twentieth century, including the Futurists, Zaum poets, Dadaists and Lettristes who sought to invent new languages and new words in order to express their vision of reality and to deconstruct and reduce the power of language. Other featured artists are examining and revealing the experiences and complexities of contemporary society by engaging with how spoken language works and manifests itself. These works reflect more recent developments in linguistics and the psychology and philosophy of language revealing how meaning is negotiated and transmitted between individuals and groups, across cultures and through languages and their translations.


This audio compilation has a companion online compilation release. They both feature the same artists but, in some cases, different tracks. A DVD of live performances by some of these artists is also available.


Many of the artists on this compilation have also contributed to Playing with Words: the spoken word in artistic practice which is available from Cornerhouse Books at Cathy Lane / CRiSAP / London / 2010




1   Sound And Sense by Amanda Stewart 01:14

2   Sunday Crunch by Jaap Blonk 03:34

3   DURBAN SINGS reunion mix by radio continental drift 02:33

4   esimorP (extract) by Mikhail Karikis 03:03

5   Oyone by Tomomi Adachi 03:09

6   A Coloro Photo of the Horse (extract) by Alessandro Bosetti 03:06

7   f_l_w_z by Ellen Moffat 03:01

8   Two Jokes by Imogen Stidworthy 02:32

9   Let her be..(extract) by Majena Mafe 01:12

10 Dying Ain’t Bad Y’all by Michael Vincent 03:34

11 el-sys by Jörg Piringer 03:04

12 …and on your left… (extract) by Pamela Z 03:10

13 Variations on a Theme by Laaban by Sten Hanson 02:11

14 Kiyosumi by Angus Carlyle 01:21

15 Alphabet of Fishes by abAna 02:22

16 The Shaman Ascending (extract) by Barry Truax 02:10

17 Ride (extract) by Caroline Bergvall 02:32

18 Lost Souls (extract) by Ekrem Mülayim 03:07

19 12+2 (extract) by Lina Lapelyte 02:59

20 Rock’s Music (extract) by Leigh Landy 03:02

21 My Name is Sarah Simpson by Nye Parry 02:32



1   Tweed (extract) by Cathy Lane 03:48

2   Reading Silence (extract) by Brandon LaBelle 03:39

3   Ruaps1 by Dirk HuelsTrunk 03:12

4   The Barry Echo (extract) by Salomé Voegelin 03:23

5   Lipsync (extract) by Thomas Gardner 03:17

6   23:36, 13/12/2009, +12° 46′, +77° 33′ by Ansuman Biswas 04:00

7   Now and Then (extract) by Paul Lansky 03:14

8   The Lipton Voice Machinery #2 (extract) by Lars Gunnar Bodin 02:53

9   Certain Irregularities (short) by Julian Weaver 02:59

10 K (extract) by Iris Garrelfs 03:14

11 The 60 Second Anthology of American Poetry by Language Removal Services 01:07

12 Skywalks (extract) by Viv Corringham 02:58

13 NAMELY for Peter Manson (extract) by John Levack Drever and Lawrence Upton 03:00

14 Samurai dreaming – An excerpt from Globalalia by Trevor Wishart 02:02

15 A Culture of Silence by BrownSierra 03:02

16 Eternally Unfinished Attempt to Grasp Everything as it Happens (extract)

by Charlotte White 02:24

17 Taliesin (extract) by Sianed Jones 02:57

18 Losing It (extract) by Katharine Norman 03:13

19 Anspayaxw (extract) by John Wynne 02:29

20 Shut your eyes and see (extract) by Julien Ottavi 03:02


41 Tracks (116′08″)
Double CD (500 copies)



About the book:


Playing with Words: the spoken word in artistic practice
ISBN 9780955827334
Pages 208
Binding softback
Illustration 32 colour, 38 b&w illustrations
Dimensions 234 x 156 mm
Weight 600g


Playing with Words: the spoken word in artistic practice is a collection of responses from over 40 leading contemporary composers and artists who have been invited to represent aspects of their creative practice with words, and in particular, the spoken word, for the printed page.


The book concentrates on the kinds of creative play to be found in different sound based genres such as electroacoustic music composition, text sound composition, and sound poetry, while reflecting artistic practices in disciplines such as digital arts, electronic, concrete and experimental poetry, performance art and fine art.


The contributors have chosen to represent their work in a variety of ways which include writing, graphics, poetry, photographs and through interview.


Contributors include: Trevor Wishart, Paul Lansky, Lars-Gunner Bodin, Sten Hanson, Barry Truax, Katharine Norman, Joan La Barbara, Brandon LaBelle, David Toop, Jaap Blonk, Jorg Piringer, Imogen Stidworthy, Tomomi Adachi, Sue Tompkins, Pamela Z, Laurie Anderson, Paul Burwell, Bob Cobbing, and Michael Vincent.


Edited by Cathy Lane and published by CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) and RGAP (Research Group for Artists Publications).



Playing with Words: an audio compilation is funded by the AHRC

Compilation curated by Cathy Lane and Gruenrekorder 2010


Mastering by Tomislav Bucalic

Artwork by Tobias Schmitt –

Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder

Gruenrekorder / Germany / 2010

Gruen 065 / CD, MP3 / GEMA / LC 09488 / EAN 4050486021859







Zipo | aufabwegen

Stimme ist momentan das große Thema. Von James Blake bis hin zu den Untiefen der Avantgarde stellt man sich die Frage, wie der Zentralperspektive der Popularmusik mit Kniffen und Tricks zu Leibe gerückt werden kann. Die von Cathy Lane herausgegebene Doppel-CD (die eine Art Gegenstück zu einem Buch von Lane formt) befasst sich mit der künstlerischen Forschung zum Thema Stimme, mit jenen Acts und Projekten, die Sound Poetry, Stimm-Manipulation und ähnliches als Hauptaufgabe bewältigen. Playing With Words deutet auch an, dass es um verspielte und nicht immer ernsthafte Anliegen geht; nicht um semantische Permutationen sondern um Unklares, Subtiles und Autopoetisches. Klassiker wie Sten Hanson, Trevor Wishart, Lars Gunnar Bodin, Barry Truax oder Jaap Blonk sind ebenso vertreten, wie neuere Projekte namens Language Removal Services, die eher in einem Kunstkontext funktionieren. Viele Beiträge sind kurze Observationen und Versuchsanordnungen, was mit Sprachmanipulationen möglich ist und wie dieses Experimentieren im Sinne einer musikalischen Form funktionieren kann. Playing With Words ist ein hilfreicher Reiseführer für all jene, die sich in den verschlungenen Pfaden zwischen experimenteller Phonetik, neurolinguistischer Forschung und Sound Poetry tummeln wollen. Gute Reise!



Mark Wharton | IDWAL FISHER

The worst thing about the relapse [or the ‘Istanbul Goat Virus Round Two’ as its known round these parts] is that it robbed me of my powers of concentration. During the first phase of its manifestation two weeks ago all I needed was the strength to pull a CD from its sleeve and insert it into the stereo. During the more virulent second phase all I could manage was staring out of the window whilst listening to the cricket updates on Five Live Sports Extra.  As I slipped between coma and semi coma news of wickets falling in Somerset and Warickshire entered my head only to leave again moments later.  As a means of whiling away the days it was as good as it was going to get. For some strange reason the sound of any kind of music drove me to absolute torment. I decided it was best left alone. These last few days then have given me some idea of what my retirement days might be like and if I ever make there in such lousy shape I may as well take up alcohol as a distraction.

Thankfully I’d become familiar with this batch of Gruenrekorder releases the first time around so it was a just a matter of working my way back in.

Gruenrekorder is a two man label stroke organisation dedicated to the promotion of experimental music and phonography. Phonography meaning ‘an acoustic experience loaden with musical sounds’.  Now I’ve always been a bit of a passenger when its come to Field Recordings [a term that Gruenrekorder also use], I do have some of Chris Watson’s work, some Touch releases that cover the same ground and the odd bit by various Schimpfluch members where they’ve stuck microphones hither and thither and recorded whatever’s emerged, but this is my first serious chance to get to grips with a label dedicated to such material and to give it a serious appraisal.


The various artist comp Playing With Words is release I got the most out of. Its a release that calls itself an ‘investigation into the spoken word’ and I call ‘one to take to the desert island with’.
It includes 42 artists over two discs, most of which are new to me, which means theres little room for detail here, but just to wallow in the majesty of voice, whatever the language, is sheer majesty. Once you’ve blown up all your electrical equipment and bust all you strings and gone partially deaf from all your noise gigs there’ll still be the human voice to entertain you. I’ve seen noise artist do gigs using nothing but their voice, I’ve seen Jaap Blonk do Ursontae, I’ve seen Phil Minton make gurgling sounds for half an hour and its all been totally sublime. OK, the genre does have its down side and can become very self indulgent. I’m happy to have forgotten the name of the American sound poet I once saw at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music fest but for every bad apple there are plenty of golden ones. Fortunately thats the case on Playing With Words and its not only words you get to hear. Jaap Blonks submission is a series of cascading voice samples that sound almost electronic. There’s the irrepressible and still sadly missed Bob Cobbing performing the 2000 version of Alphabet of Fishes along with David Toop and Paul Burwell. Barry Truax’s ‘Shaman Ascending’ is another vocals turned synth. There’s clips plucked straight from Radio 4, someone reading out the letter they’re writing with the sound of pen scratching on paper, there’s an incredible Trevor Wishart track that I’m desperate to share with anybody who’ll listen and a track by Salome Voegelin in which someone struggles to read a flyer with Welsh language in it in a supermarket cafe. Totally wonderful. Its a rewarding listen even if there are a few bumps along the way but the best thing about it is the fact that its available as a free download from the Gruenrekorder website. Plus, if you download it you wont have to strain your eyesight reading the tiniest writing I’ve seen on a CD release.


Gruenrekorder don’t just release Field Recordings and Sound Art though, you’ll find them investigating Soundscapes as well as running a workshop and an intermittent dual language downloadable PDF magazine called Field Notes. Its archived and worthy of your attention. Theres also a few more free downloadable albums beside the one I mentioned. Having never heard of Gruenrekorder a month ago I know find myself a fervant fan.

What interests me now is has anyone done any true ‘Industrial’ field recordings? I mean in actual working factories? I’ve been musing this for the last few days. I wonder if there are too many obstacles involved? Its not like you can just turn up at a factory with your equipment and say ‘I’d to record your machines please’. First you’d have to find out which machines makes the most interesting noises and that in itself would take months of ground work. Then you’d have to get the companies permission. The company involved would no doubt have to give you assistance as I’d doubt whether they’d just let you wander around their premises until you found what you wanted. The results could be interesting, just hard to collate.



Guillermo Escudero | LOOP

These works reveal how language and sound unfold different structures and shapes as narrative, songs, abstract dialogues, speeches, wide range of field recordings, music, poetry, etc.
The influence behind these works come from poetry, music, song, typography and graphic art, philosophy, radio, performance art, linguistics, fine art, literature and the variety sorts of communications we are all exposed in every day life.
On the other hand, in relation with philosophy of language, language reveals the being of a person so in every manifestation deployed in these two CD’s it’s possible to interpret the situation and the significance of the message.


Estos trabajos muestran como el lenguaje y el sonido se desarrolla en diferentes estructuras como la narrativa, canciones, diálogos abstractos, discursos, una amplia gama de grabaciones de campo, música, poesía, etc.
La influencia que está detrás de estos trabajos provienen de la poesía, música, canciones, tipografía y arte gráfico, filosofía, radio, performances, lingüística, bellas artes, literatura y una variedad de tipos de comunicaciones a las cuales estamos expuestas en el día a día.
Por otra parte, en relation con la filosofía  del lenguaje, el lenguaje revela el ser de la persona, entonces en cada manifestación desplegada en estos dos CD’s, es possible interpretar la situación y el significado del mensaje.



Ron Schepper | textura

Playing with Words  appears in not just the two guises covered here but in three, with the comprehensive portrait provided by the two-CD audio compilation and DVD completed by the anthology Playing with Words: the Spoken Word in Artistic Practice (Cornerhouse Books). The Gruenrekorder items alone prove to be more than enlightening, however, in their documentation of the sound poetry, text sound composition, and spoken word fields. The collective genre shows itself to be an incredibly fertile zone, and one that appears to have benefited greatly from the possibilities that electronic technologies have introduced in the past few decades. The rich wellspring of creativity, playfulness, and imagination catured on the CD set in particular is remarkable. The releases are related in one direct sense, as five of the six artists featured on the DVD also appear on the CD.


Artists working in the sound poetry field are fortunate in that they’re able to draw upon an immense cultural inventory, with pieces taking their inspiration from poetry, of course, but also music, philosophy, radio, performance art, linguistics, and the everyday interactions between people in urban and rural contexts. Inspirations for artists‘ works come from figures well-known for their sensitivity to language such as Gertude Stein, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, and James Joyce, as well as art movements such as Dada and Futurism that include a pronounced language focus.


With forty-one pieces spread across a two-hour running time, the CD set serves as a wonderful sound poetry primer. Bolstering its appeal is the fact that most pieces are vignettes (in many cases extracts from longer works), and consequently the listener is exposed to a rich overview of the vocal sound art genre. While almost all of the pieces are deserving of mention for one reason or another, a representative sampling will have to suffice. Exploring oaths of secrecy within a financial context, Mikhail Karikis’s “esimorP” presents an imaginary city office worker who’s promised to keep his lips sealed, and as a result the word “promise” is prevented from leaving his lips. The word is thus mangled and stifled as it fights to escape his mouth, and the mood rapidly shifts from violence to tenderness, the voice turning Gollum-like at one point when the words “Promise me” are viciously spat out. Ellen Moffat’s “f_l_w_z” uses the International Phonetic Alphabet as source material in having its phoneme units pop like popcorn. “Ride” (extract) features Caroline Bergvall reading from text as it’s being written, the sound of the pencil rapidly moving across the paper’s surface as the writer lays bare the intimate processes involved in creative work. In Leigh Landy’s “Rock’s Music” extract, snippets taken from Stein’s writings (Stein in German = rock in English) are heard, the voice panning from left to right channels and sometimes alternating and sometimes doubling up, in a composition inspired by Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. In Nye Parry’s “My Name is Sarah Simpson,” unsolicited bank-related phone messages are woven into a voice arrangement accompanied by ominous dial tonalities (the title appearing as an introduction in one such message). Michael Vincent’s incredible “Dying Ain’t Bad Y’all” features the words of an African American Pentacostal preacher (expounding on the death of a church parishioner) sliced up into repeated and re-arranged cells and accompanied by a tenor saxophone’s punctuations (some kinship to Reich’s It’s Gonna Rain is suggested).


On the second CD, Cathy Lane’s “Tweed,” a sound portrait recorded in Tweed in the Outer Hebrides, offers a woven quilt of field recordings (of machines for washing, drying, dying, and spinning of yarn) and interviews with weavers. In Paul Lansky’s delightful “Now and Then” extract, Lansky’s wife Hannah MacKay reads several soothing phrases from children’s stories, all of which relate to time (“weeks passed,” “forever and ever,” “the hours seemed like days,”…), with percussive sounds of their children playing in the kitchen acting as musical backing. Language Removal Services‘ “The 60 Second Anthology of American Poetry” focuses on breaths, lip smacks, and other interstitial noises extracted from recordings of American poets reading their works. The CD also includes an extract from Sianed Jones‘ “Taliesin” that’s presented in longer form on the DVD. Inspired by singers of Kazakhstan, her piece is a vocal and violin improvisation based around the poetry of Taliesin, a Welsh poet of the 6th century but also a mythical shamanistic figure.


Some pieces, such as Jörg Piringer’s “el-sys,” which features samples of his voice transformed into musical elements and melodic pitches, resemble non-vocal musical pieces more than anything voice-related. abAna’s “Alphabet of Fishes” literally includes musical instruments as accompaniment to voice, with a visual list poem by Bob Cobbing (recorded in 2000 two years before his death) joined by Paul Burwell on drums and David Toop on guitar. Lina Lapelyte’s “12+2” extract includes digitally processed environmental sounds, cut-up voice recordings, and violin, with real-time processing effects triggered by a MIDI keyboard controller. Her voice heard gently floating in swirl-like formations, Iris Garrelfs’s “K” offers a vocal-musical meditation upon the letter that was produced in one pass using the Kaoss-Pad.


Brian Olewnick | Just outside

Admittedly, I found the prospect of a 2-CD set of avant vocal works to be daunting. Of the 41 artists represented here, I only recognized a handful of names and those (like Jaap Blonk, Paul Lansky, Pamela Z and Brandon Labelle) didn’t exactly have my heart doing flip-flops. Still, I noted that the collection ended with a piece by Julien Ottavi, and I persevered. There were some highlights: Tomomi Adachi’s „Oyone“, a very rhythmic work for a set of singers, reminding me a bit of Partch; a fun piece by abAna (Bob Cobbing, Paul Burwell and David Toop); an intricate and rich field recording (with voices) by Cathy Lane; an enjoyable, Glassian work by Julian Weaver; a good, large room muffled crowd conversation by Charlotte White; a fine Kazakhstan-inspired vocal and violin song from Sianed Jones; an intriguing closing work by Ottavi. But you have to wade through a lot of dross to unearth these nuggets, a questionable venture.


There’s also an accompanying DVD from the 2009 festival with six performances, the only non-aggravating one, for my taste, again courtesy Sianed Jones who delivers an outstanding, lengthier example of her vocal/violin stylings–really good. In fairness, Jaap Blonk fans, of which I am not one, will enjoy his outing as well.



Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY

Maybe Gruenrekorder hit on a pot of money, or perhaps they have co-sponsors for these releases, but they release five new releases at once. Three of them deal with words and voice and two with sound art. To start with the voices, there are two called ‚Playing With Words‘. The double CD seems connected to a book of the same name, and has music that has been made with the use voice, leading to sound poetry, speeches, narratives, abstract pieces, solo and multiple voices. Forty one relatively short pieces by people who have a reputation to keep up in this field such as Sten Hanson, Pamela Z, Brandon LaBelle, Alessandro Bosetti, Jaap Blonk, Barry Truax, Jorg Piringer, Trevor Wishart, Julien Ottavi, Lina Lapelyte, Leigh Landy, Lars Gunnar Bodin, Paul Lansky and Iris Garrelfs. These are the names I recognized, so that means that the majority of names I didn’t recognize. The music is indeed all over the place, from straight abstract mumbling, spoken words which seems to be taken from the radio and more song like pieces. A decent compilation, maybe altogether a bit long, and the cover could have been designed better, i.e. better to read. […]