The World According to Sound – Listening Series 2022

A CLOSER LISTEN is honored to co-present Matmos as part of The World According To Sound‘s Winter Listening Series. A streaming concert series designed for our times, each event is dedicated to listening closely together, apart. If, like us, you’re apprehensive about attending live concerts again, but miss the experience of collective listening, this series is made for you. 12 shows will be presented every Thursday evening at 6PM PST, January 6 through March 24, 2022.  Enter “ACloserListen” at checkout for 25% off tickets and season passes.

The only “pure music” show in the series comes from Matmos, but fans of the duo know to expect a wide array of unusual sound sources. M. C. (Martin) Schmidt and Drew Daniel’s 2020 triple album was one of our favorites of 2020. That album is offered both as 44 individual tracks and as three hour-long mixes, one per disc, emphasizing the importance of continuous listening and dedicated attention. The Winter Listening Series provides the conditions for just such an experience, and we cannot wait to hear what the group has prepared. On March 17, Matmos will present a new work created specifically for the World According to Sound, with a Q&A with Martin and Drew to follow.

All 12 shows are sure to be of interest to our readers. The Winter Listening series will delve into myriad sonic archives, exploring the experience of isolation, time, and the history of sound. Explore transposition and travel in sound with the renowned composer and sound ecologist Hildegard Westerkamp. Discover the influences behind the Kronos Quartet with violinist and founder David Harrington. Bird recordings with BirdNote, the sounds of bodies with Jacob Kirkegaard, a career retrospective with sound art pioneer Bill Fontana, the history of radical radio documentary, and much more. The series concludes with the sounds of the legendary Firesign Theatre, including a Q&A with members Philip Proctor and David Ossman.

The World According To Sound (WatS) began in 2015 as a podcast by Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett, two public radio producers looking to get outside of the public radio aesthetic. The pair began producing abstract spots for radio, appearing on NPR’s All Things Considered and other radio programs. The podcast showcases a range of sounds, each episode a short and easily digestible presentation of an individual sonic experience, absent any public radio narration. The series began as 90-second vignettes, and while the length has grown a bit over what is now 130+ installments, the series still runs shorter than your average pop song. As someone who produces hour-long episodes of my own show, the brevity of WatS remains one of my favorite aspects of what Chris and Sam do.

Radio has a long history as an alternative to the concert stage, so there’s something very fitting about a concert series designed by radio producers. The pandemic has created just the right conditions for a return to such listening. WatS has organized some live shows as well, during which the audience is provided with eye masks, the lights are turned off, and all attention is granted to sound. The Winter Listening Series extends this commitment to dedicated listening, sending each participant an eye mask to wear during the streaming show.

Read the complete program, and hear excerpts, at The World According to Sound.

More on the Listening Series:

We believe intentional, communal listening is a way to reclaim autonomy in a visually dominated world that is increasingly fracturing our attention.
Audio can do so much more than entertain, amuse or at the worst infotain. As radio, podcasts, storytelling, and media in general become more commodified, there are fewer and fewer places to experience any alternatives.
We started making a radio show where we tried to talk as little as possible and make sound the focus, to give listeners a sonic space to have their own thoughts. We turned those sounds into a live, experiential show where the audience sits in the dark surrounded by loudspeakers.
Now we produce an on-going listening series that brings together people from all over the world to listen together to things that are wondrous and challenging, mundane and exotic, melodious and grating, new and old.
Through our listening series, we’re trying to create a community-supported distribution channel to support not only our work, but the work of others who are tired of media that is designed solely to capture, control, and monetize your attention.
So every Thursday evening starting in January we’re going to live stream spatialized audio straight to the headphones of people listening together, all around the world.
You’ll hear antiphonal duets, the world’s largest instrument, spider mating calls, a particle accelerator, a pulsar, the inside of an organ, arctic ice turned into music, 1940’s Berlin, a body decomposing, a person sitting in a room, and everything eaten in a single year by some Englishman.

Here’s a taste of the experience. Close your eyes and listen with headphones!

Attendees will be mailed an eye mask and listening instructions for how to tune in to a program made by radio producers, musicians, and sound artists. After each show, we’ll have a live discussion with the people who made the audio.

All shows are live at 6 PM Pacific/9 PM Eastern.

About Joseph Sannicandro

writer | traveler | sound organizer | contrarian | concerned citizen

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