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Sound Unbound incl CD: Sampling Digital Music and Culture

by Paul D Miller (DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid) The MIT Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 432 pages
AU$97.99 NZ$100.86
Product Status: In Stock Now
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If Rhythm Science was about the flow of things, Sound Unbound is about the remix - how music, art, and literature have blurred the lines between what an artist can do and what a composer can create. In Sound Unbound, Rhythm Science author Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid asks artists to describe their work and compositional strategies in their own words.

These are reports from the front lines on the role of sound and digital media in an information-based society. The topics are as diverse as the contributors: composer Steve Reich offers a memoir of his life with technology, from tape loops to video opera; Miller himself considers sampling and civilization; novelist Jonathan Lethem writes about appropriation and plagiarism; science fiction writer Bruce Sterling looks at dead media; Ron Eglash examines racial signifiers in electrical engineering; media activist Naeem Mohaiemen explores the influence of Islam on hip hop; rapper Chuck D contributes ''Three Pieces''; musician Brian Eno explores the sound and history of bells; Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno interview composer-conductor Pierre Boulez; and much more. ''Press 'play,''' Miller writes, ''and this anthology says 'here goes.'''

The groundbreaking mix CD that accompanies the book features Nam Jun Paik, the Dada Movement, John Cage, Sonic Youth, and many other examples of avant-garde music. Most of the CD's content comes from the archives of Sub Rosa, a legendary record label that has been the benchmark for archival sounds since the beginnings of electronic music.

''Miller’s own writing can be both grandiose and puzzling. According to him, the book is “a plagiarist’s club for the famished souls of a geography of now-here.” But the eclectic range of Sound Unbound, if uneven, is admirable and should appeal not only to composers and musicians but also to artists, media theorists, anthropologists, computer geeks, and anyone interested in current debates on intellectual property.'' Bookforum- June/July/August Issue

''The pieces are generally brief, but the sheer breadth of topics is boggling, perhaps to a fault. The foreword, introduction, and Miller's opening piece do little to shed light on the unifying idea behind the collection. Still, this is a provocative and intriguing text, of interest to anyone working in or studying contemporary experimental music. Recommended for music libraries.'' Library Journal April 15, 2008

''Sound Unbound advertises itself as a series of artist reports on compositional strategies; this decision to situate itself within processes of production pays off when writers are able to draw us into the hazards and the impasses of invention. . . . Sound Unbound circles around these overarching questions; and yet each account remains unsatisfying, persistently so. To think through these difficult questions would involve turning towards Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s discussion of the commons in Multitudes or looking at discussions of immaterial labour in the writings of Paolo Virno; such theoretical ideas remain absent from a volume that is limited by its eagerness to please. '' The Wire, June 2008

...this is a provocative and intriguing text, of interest to anyone working in or studying contemporary experimental music.

'Dave Valencia, Library Journal
Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer. He is the author of Rhythm Science and Sound Unbound, both published by the MIT Press.