Andrew Khedoori of the Preservation label talks about his latest series, Longform Editions, featuring compositions designed to encourage deep listening. Very much organized against the prevailing streaming ecosystem which encourages short tracks and distracted listening, Longform Editions has released 32 works and counting. The interview is set entirely against selection from the series, often playing out for much longer than I usually would give a single track. The final selection is the sole exception, a meditative piece from Deep Magic released on Preservation.
Longform Editions isn’t necessarily interested in being overly prescriptive, dictating how we should or should not listen. Khedoori never makes a moral argument that things should be one way or another. But for those who feel increasingly overwhelmed and are looking for an escape, subscribe to the Longform series for your regular dose of music that encourages deep listening.
Episode 9: WHO CARES IF YOU DEEP LISTEN?
Sound Propositions should be available wherever you get your podcasts, so please keep an eye out and subscribe (and rate and review, it helps others who might be interested find us). New episodes will be published every two weeks (more or less). You can support Sound Propositions on Patreon if you are so inclined. I’m very grateful for any support. One of the rewards for supporting the podcast in this way is access to vocal-free versions of the episodes (that is, more traditional mixes), as well as other benefits for higher tiers of support, including custom made mixes, soundscapes, and collages.
SP* at Anchor
No amount of time spent thinking about the production of music matters one bit if we aren’t attending to the ways in which we listen. And our “ways of listening” have changed dramatically. Recorded music is everywhere, but we rarely listen in optimal conditions. When I spoke to Giuseppe Ielasi for Sound Propositions back in 2014, he explained how he tries to impose some structure on his own listening habits.
I don’t listen to music from the computer. I burn CDs also for most of the stuff I download, which is not so much anyway. And I never use portable devices, I find it quite disturbing to walk or sit in a bar with headphones, I feel like I’m missing too much of real life.
Such an attitude might help us listen to each other better in public, and to listen with more care when we do listen to music.
Last episode, Joseph Branciforte spoke with us about his desire to produce musical works that would encourage listeners to engage with the intentions of the artists, in formats that are capable of communicating the work faithfully. How we listen has become a recurring theme on this podcast. Artists are increasingly concerned with the way their works will be diffused into a live audience, or how their recordings will be heard by listeners. As modes of distribution change, the kinds of music made change as well. This is nothing new. The music industry in most countries was largely driven by the sales of 45s, with singles getting all the radio play, until the stereo LP shifted the sound towards album-oriented works. The CD made it easier to shuffle, and the era of iTunes and Spotify has only made it easier to deviate from long form work. In fact, Spotify rewards shorter songs in so far as it counts numbers of plays, not length of time spent listening to a given artists.
Longform Editions deliberately cultivates a different kind of listening: active, attentive, dedicated, and long. In little over a year, the series has released eight batches of four works, an impressive feat made all the more so by the consistently high artistic quality. Each batch is likely to include artists you already know well alongside those who may be lesser known. The series also encompasses a great many interpretations of what “deep listening” could be. While some works lean into drone, with pleasing sustained tones channeling the aural equivalent to a soak in a warm bath, others take a very different approach, overloaded with contrasting elements and sharp edits. Longform is intended as a place where such disparate approaches can come together around a shared emphasis on deep listening.
I jumped at the change to chat with Andrew about his latest endeavor as a longtime fan of his label Preservation, which has released excellent records from artists including Heather Woods Broderick, Sophie Hutchings, Olan Mill, and Richard Skelton. Andrew’s partner in the label is Mark Gowing, who has contributed art and design to all of the Longform Editions and the majority of Preservation releases. As with the Circa (Fabio Orsi, Area C, Seaworthy) and Contrasts series (Pimmon/Deep Magic, J.D. Emmanuel/Evan Caminiti), Gowing has created a design idiom which is simple and effective, especially for a digital only series like Longform. (Gowing’s covers for Preservation have also been collected in a print edition.)
Gowing created a typographic language in which each letter is substituted for a symbol consisting of combinations of lines and dots of different kinds. See, for example, the beautiful simplicity of Lee Noble’s Q or Ekin Fil’s Windblow, each with relatively few characters on the cover due to the economy of the titles. Compare this with lengthier titles, Alison Cotton’s Behind the Spiderwood Gate or Laura Luna Castillo’s Cepheid Variables, which look like an alien game of dominoes.
These last two were both part of the most recent, off-cycle installment released for World Listening Day. And while I chose selections from half of the LE releases for this podcast, there were so many amazing records I simply couldn’t make fit, including these two new ones. I’d encourage everyone to listen (for free) on Bandcamp. Or, if you’re interested, you can Support Longform Editions with a Subscription for only US$50 per year.
In the liner notes for Q, from the inaugural batch of Longform releases, Lee Noble cites as inspiration for his own contribution the artist Carolee Schneemann, who describes being “free in a process which liberates our intentions from our conceptions.” I won’t speak for the other artists in the series, but I think this attitude would also be a beneficial approach for us, as listeners.
Deep Listening as a concept can of course be traced back to the late great Pauline Oliveros, who encouraged an open and dedicated art of listening which performers could respond to each other and their environment with care. Still, with the title of this episode I’ve chosen to invoke a rather different tradition. In Milton Babbitt’s infamous essay “Who Cares if You Listen?” (1958), he argues that “the composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media.” One could easily read this as an elitist academic composer railing against popular culture (and audiences) who paid his ilk very little attention. But something Andrew says towards the end of this episode invites a rather more charitable interpretation. Unlike a physical label, there is much less presure to generate press and move units. As such, Longform Editions is really here for those who need it.
I’d also like to take a moment to mention that Norm Chambers (N Chambers, Panabrite), who has released records on Preservation and Longform Editions, could use some support with his cancer treatment. If you are able to give, please see this link for more information.
Lastly, for another recent endeavor in changing how we listen, I’d like to plug 9128, a new initiative from a strangely isolated place. If you’ve ever found yourself missing the experience of discovering new music on the radio, then navigate over the 9128.live/ for some ease of discovery.
(LONGFORM EDITIONS AVAILABLE HERE)
ARTIST (ALBUM, YEAR)
All selections excerpted from works on Longform Editions unless otherwise noted.
Ahnnu (The Dreaming Arrow, 2019)
SP Intro (the new objective – “vita activa”  plus film samples)
Matthewdavid’s Mindflight (Marimbza, 2018)
Ekin Fil (Windblow, 2018)
Lee Noble (Q, 2018)
Frank Bretschneider (Sweet Water Pools, 2019)
Upgrayedd Smurphy (#InterDimensionalMagic, 2018)
Nozomu Matsumodo (Phonocentrism, 2019)
Nicola Ratti (k1/k2, 2019)
Matchess (Fundamental 256 hz, 2019)
Richard Youngs (Daybreak, 2018)
Felicity Mangan – Stereo’frog’ic (2019)
Danny Paul Grody (Sunrise, Looking East, 2019)
Caterina Barbieri (Sogno Che Suona, 2018)
N Chambers (Itinerant Pattern, 2018)
Kate Carr (City of Bridges, 2019)
Sun Araw & Mitchell Brown (Fluid Array, 2019)
Deep Magic – “Extended Days” (Bonus from Reflections of Most Forgotten Love, Preservation, 2013)
Sound Propositions is written, recorded, mixed, and produced by Joseph Sannicandro.