Sunday, January 29

nothing will have taken place but the place, except perhaps a constellation

Tonight's programme begins on earth, with a gathering of artists exploring the improvisational potential of a bounded, "isolated" Tasmanian eco-sanctuary island, and moves through a scattering of site-specific, installation based and compositional works that expand out toward the stars, exploring the aesthetics of an elemental minimalism as analogous to the potential of radio to hold durational listening spaces. Scattered, sparse structures (r)evolving in memory and time.


1. West Head Project, 'Spruces' from A Closely Woven Fabrik (Splitrec, 2010)
2. Seth Cluett, 'A Radiance Scored with Shadow', from Objects of Memory (Line, 2011)
3. Rolf Julius, 'Lonely Piano Music' from Für Einen Kleinen See (Because Tomorrow Comes, 2003)
4. Richard Garret, Meta (Line, 2015)
5. Absolute Value of Noise, Anna Friz, and Glen Gear, 'Natural Radio' from Somewhere a Voice is Calling (self released, 2014)
6. Jeremy Bible 'Messier 31' from Music for Black Holes (Aole, 2016)
7. Roy Montgomery, 'And Later We Looked Up at the Stars' from RMHQ, disc 3, H, Bender (Grapefruit Records, 2016)

Sunday, January 15

music for the new society / i didn't move here i just fell: songs for donald trump's america

"There's something strange going on down here
A sickening implosion of mistrust and fear.
A vast corruption that's about to boil
A mixture of greed and the smell of oil."
-Kevin Ayers, 'Song From the Bottom of a Well'

"I can't feel a thing, I can't feel a thing."
-Big Star, 'Big Black Car'

with special guest DJ Godwinbot

This week, Avant Gardening joins the celebration of the comprehensive above-water sea change in world politics with the impending inauguration of Donald Trump on the 20th January, with a show dedicated to an avowedly specific critical rejigging of various strands of popular and underground culture that maybe say something about the different ways we can understand this moment. Songs of aphasiac dissatisfaction, nihilism, alienation, the incremental devolution of responsibility and possibility in hegemonic American culture, are interspersed with outside perspectives of resistance, condemnation and inevitability. The playlist is unapologetically predominantly white and male: as these are the people that got us to where we are now, so this selection reflects one version of the fallout: a combining of denial, anger and depression that charts the American hegemonic cult of the individual we can see as a toxic bloom in 2017.


1.  Kevin Ayers, 'Song from the bottom of a well', from Whatevershebringswesing (1972).
2.  Bill Fay, 'Pictures Of Adolf Again', from Time Of The Last Persecution (1971).
3.  The Replacements, 'Unsatisfied', from Let It Be (1984).
4.  American Music club, 'Patriot's Heart', from A Toast to You - Recorded Live in Pittsburgh (2005).
5.  Leonard Cohen, 'Everybody Knows', from I'm Your Man (1988).
6.  Big Star, 'Big Black Car', from Third/Sister Lovers (1975).
7.  Jason Molina, 'Get Out Get Out Get Out', from Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go (2006).
8.  Townes van Zandt, 'Flying Shoes', from Absolutely Nothing (2002).
9.  Jim Shepard, 'Birthplace of Aviation', from Motorcycle Movie (1998).
10. Peter Jefferies, 'Slow Motion', recorded live at the Khyber (1993).
11. The Fall, 'Who Make the Nazis?', from Hex Induction Hour (1982).
12. Bassholes, 'Angel of Death', from Long Way Blues/1996-1998 (1998).
13. Mike Rep and the Quotas, 'Rocket to Nowhere', single (1977).
14. Rocket from the Tombs, 'Ain't it Fun', from Peter Laughner, Take the Guitar Player for a Ride (1974, 1993). 
15. Tommy Roundtree, 'Here in this Meat Department', from Jungle Blood (2007).
16. Neil Young, 'For the Turnstiles', from On the Beach (1975).
17. Roky Erickson, 'White Faces', from Demon Angel (1994). 
18. Elvis Costello, 'Stranger in the House' (BBC version, 1978), from This Year's Model, bonus tracks (2002).
19. V-3, 'American Face', from Photograph Burns (1996).
20. Fugazi, 'Do You Like Me', from Red Medicine (1995).
21. Ol' Dirty Bastard, 'Raw Hide', from Return to the 36 Chambers (1995).
22. Suicide, 'Frankie Teardrop', from Suicide (1977).
23. Swans, 'Job (live)', from Body to Body, Job to Job (1982-85,1990).
24. Fetus Productions, 'State to be in', from Fetalmania (1983)
25. Skeptics, 'Sheen of Gold', from Amalgam (1990).
26. This Heat, 'SPQR', from Deceit (1981).
27. Public Image Limited, 'Albatross', from Metal Box (1979).
28. John Cale, 'Gun', from Fear (1974).
29. Vertical Slit, 'I Remember Nothing', from Under the Blood Red Lava Lamp (1986).
30. Scott Walker, 'Clara', from The Drift (2006).
31. Robert Wyatt, 'At Last I Am Free', single, 1980.

32. Blind Willie Davis, 'I believe I'll go back home', from American Primitive Vol. I, raw pre-war gospel 1926-36 (1997).

Sunday, January 10

brett ian balogh: three works

Tonight, visiting Chicago radio artist Brett Ian Balogh joins us live in the studio to play some excerpts from three of his recent projects and discuss the state of the (radio) arts. 

Interferences (2013)

Interferences is a series of four broadcasts that took place on each Friday in July 2013 as part of experimental radio station Radius’ Episode 41. Each broadcast featured a different geographic site in the Chicago area where some type of built interference to the landscape had taken place. The content of each broadcast consisted of sound-encoded text, maps, photographs and drawings relating to each site. This content was broadcast on 88.9MHz FM. Each interfering broadcast created a temporary autonomous zone within licensed Hertzian space where the site asserted / advertised elements of its past, present and future with the same voice as the mass media broadcasts that enveloped it.

ISM (2014) in Unseen, Gallery Project, Detroit

ISM is a sound and radio installation that exposes a vast expanse of radio space punctuated by machine communications. The installation consists of an antenna mast supporting three antennas, each of which is appropriate for reception in the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. Each antenna is connected to a computer-controlled radio receiver, each of which is tuned to a particular frequency in those bands (920MHz, 434MHz and 315MHz). These frequencies are used by such devices as keyless car entry systems, wireless sensor networks and utility meter transmitters to name a few. A set of speakers diffuse the sound of the demodulated signals into the audio space around the installation, creating a sound composition wholly determined by the stochastic arrangement of devices operating within receiving range.

Soft Power (2015) 

Live Performance at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago on the occasion of Artists Johnny Farrow and Milaz Mozari's show, Soft Power. 

The 18 min live set featured an improvised composition of electromagnetic signals emanating from electrical equipment, including power supplies, computers, radios and cell phones along with some hand-built sound circuits.

Saturday, September 26

Dinah Bird: a radio relay for "A Box of 78s"

Tonight, Avant Gardening is delighted to be the latest port of call in a 22-station traveling radio relay, which since November 2014 has been distributing the aural contents of Dinah Bird's work A box of 78s to the listeners of radio stations around the world. by the time it is played over the R1 airwaves, the record will have accumulated scratches and associated material traces from 17 other stations in 13 countries.

Like the peer-to-peer share culture of the radia network, but conducted via the pre-digital distribution methods of the postal service, the radio relay for a box of 78s is a form of audio mail art.

Explaining how this radio relay works, Dinah writes:

"It is not a race, quite the opposite. It is a playful protest against the way sound is propagated in the digital age. The idea is simple. I have made a piece of radio pressed to vinyl available on Gruenrekorder. I would like the same copy of the record to be relayed between the different partner radio stations, so that no single broadcast sounds the same. The scratches formed en route will become part of the piece, mirroring the journey my grandmother’s records made. I will also ask each station that plays the record to fill in a listening log, a bit like the piece of paper that used to get stamped when you took a book out of the library. So far twenty one radio stations from places as far flung as Newfoundland and Dunedin have agreed to take part and play the record whatever state it might be in after all its travels. It is a radio relay, a kind of chain letter if you like. I am hoping that sometime around October 2015 the record and the physical traces if its journey will be returned to me, accompanied by the written observations of those who have played it." 

and here she is, on how this relates to the wider conceptual grounding of the project:

"This is the story of a box: A leather box that is over eighty years old and has lived in three different countries, and on two different continents. It contains over fifty 78 rpm recordings of classical music and opera hits of the day. The box and its contents were inherited by my grandmother who was born on the Gulf Islands, British Columbia, in 1910. She grew up on Salt Spring. She took the box with her when she left the island in 1925 and carried it to her various adult homes until her death in 2000. In September 2012 I retraced the box’s long journey and took the records back to the island where they were first played. Using my great-grandfather’s diary and daily notes on the weather as a guide, I played the records outdoors, on a portable gramophone in spots around Salt Spring where my grandmother and her family had picnics, played tennis or danced, and I recorded what happened. I also talked to today’s Salt Springers, and my late Great Uncle, about their memories and reasons for being on the island. This composed sound work blends memories, observations, field recordings and music. This piece is about rekindling lost, and perhaps forgotten, sounds. Are they so very different to those my grandmother heard? It is a personal response to the people and places of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia."

Here is the full list of radio stations that are participating in the relay, including many friends and familiars ears!:

Kunstradio RadioKunst, Vienna.
Radio On – Berlin.
The Lake Radio
, Copenhagen, DK.
Radio Nova
, Oslo, Norway.
Radio Worm
, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Radio Panik
, Brussels, Belgium.
Radio Papesse
, Florence, Italy.
, Glasgow, Scotland.
, on RTE Lyric FM, Ireland.
, London, UK.
Soundart Radio
, Devon, UK.
Radio Grenouille
, Euphonia, Marseille, France.
Voice of Bonne Bay
, Newfoundland, Canada.
Wave Farm,
WGXC 90.7 FM, Accra, NY. USA.
101.9 FM, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
CKUW 95.9 FM
, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Tree Frog radio, Denman Island, BC, Canada.
Radio One
(91 FM) Dunedin, NZ.
Creative Audio Unit on ABC Radio National, Melbourne Australia
Radio Campus Bruxelles
, Belgium.
HRT _ Croatian Radiotelevision
, Zagreb.
Radio Campus Grenoble
, France.

Avant Gardening will follow the broadcast of Dinah's work with an airing of other recent sound projects which also explore the tactile materiality of recorded media in the digital age.

Saturday, September 19

exchange culture: motoko kikkawa in japan

Tokyo-born, Dunedin-based experimental violinist Motoko Kikkawa has lived in New Zealand's southernmost large-ish city for over a decade, and been an important presence in Dunedin's collaborative improvised music community throughout that time. Like many of us (and confounding the hoary yet persistent old cliches of Dunedin's sound culture as emerging from the yearnings and nostalgia of a peripheral place which is 'marginal' and 'isolated'), she regularly travels to update living links with the other places she draws on as history, in the process weaving a uniquely personal  geographical and cultural mindset, through the constant curiosity, learning and fresh listening such peripetatic activities inspire.

Motoko's most recent visit to Japan resulted in many audio documents, both while visiting family and field recording at a temple in Hiroshima, and being a participant and listener at various small venues for experimental music in Osaka and Tokyo. With her collaborators Takashi Masubuchi and Rosie Langabeer, she performed various dates on a tour of Osaka. Motoko's audio documents of these gigs are mostly captured at two venues: Futtari (in Suidoubashi), an improvised/experimental music store which has a regular programme of live music, and Art Space Bar Buena (in Shinjuku). Her capturing of the everyday life of the cities she traveled through also includes attention to the sounds of "foreigners" - part of a reflection around the strangeness of being a stranger in your own land, and  hybrid cultural identity: being always, on some level, in both places (and languages) at once.

We are very pleased to have Motoko as our guest tonight on Avant Gardening. During the show we will be playing and discussing her observations and listenings-in to the current underground network of Japanese experimental and noise music, revealing the current crop of tiny city spaces and the particular sounds emerging from them, as well as talking more widely about sound in Japan, and pondering place and other geo-cultural reflections.

Sunday, August 16

lost in music / i'm a believer: toward a theory of the original non-original


The notion of "originality" in contemporary music has long been boringly over-contested territory. Within the world of popular song, in particular, genre has become central to how we understand music. Songs are most often interpreted through a combination of dramatic and affective devices that are strictly codified within these genre norms and a politically conservative hierarchy that determines value through tradition and the market. 

Similarly, the idea of song composition as being somehow intellectually superior to other elements within the process has remained - within more unconscious music consumers, especially - while other, less generic and perhaps more lateral possibilities within music are marginalis

Contemporary music's increasing obsession with statistics, lists and other status indicators only highlights the problems with the pre-set canon as a market tool rather than a broadly useful indicator of the way we actually use music within communities.

The Original Non-Original is a way of understanding and clarifying that the top-down approach to music value presented to us has little value within actual music communities. The coalface of music production uses this kind of approach as a tool of resistance, as an interrogation of the locus of individual and community worth within music and music history. This is opposed to the Non-Original Original which seeks to replace like with like in terms of maintaining a controllable music structure.

With that in mind, we present a show of songs and other music that starts from a position of awareness of a place in history and in genre. None of the songs here are written by their performers in a legal sense, but many of them have presented a far more complex engagement with what musical composition and performance may actually mean in the lives of musicians and listeners. To cover a song at the same time as ignoring the self-evident aims and ambitions of the original is a bold response to a conservative environment, with a wide range of exceedingly valuable possibilities for engagement with community-level musical practice.


This playlist was originally aired as a set by DJ Concrete Steps (aka. Avant Gardening's Campbell Walker) in the Friday Night experimental sessions at Dunedin's Mou Very Bar, 14.8.2015. The night also featured an all original, all live set of non-new music from the ever-erudite ears of Mick Elborado, who we understand is currently listening to this broadcast. Hi Mick! Thanks also goes out to LSD Fundraiser, for cluing us into the above image - Lady Gaga wears Les Rallizes Denudes.



1. Robert Wyatt, 'I'm A Believer' from The Peel Sessions (1987)
2. Peter Gutteridge, 'Don't Catch Fire' from Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox (2009)
3. Peter Jefferies, 'Slow Motion', recorded live, 1993
4. Big Star, 'Femme Fatale' from Third/Sister Lovers (1975) 
5. Cat Power, 'Freebird' [Peel Session] from Clear the Room [Rarities] (Undated bootleg album) 
6. The Bent Folk, 'Wrecking Ball' from Live Bent Folk (4cd box, 2015) 
7. Alex Chilton, 'I Will Always Love You' Live to air, WLYX Memphis 1975  
8. Don Howland, 'Sail Away' from Land Beyond the Mountains (2002) 
9. The Index, 'Eight Miles High' from The Index (1966)
10. The Renderers, 'Forbidden Planet' from That Dog's Head In The Gutter Gives Off Vibrations (1994)
11. Peter Laughner, 'Calvary Cross' from Take the Guitar Player For A Ride (1993) 
12. The Builders, 'Red Sky' from Beaten Hearts (1983)  
13. Big Black, 'The Model' from He's A Whore 7" (1987)
14. Primal Scream, 'Slip Inside This House' from Screamadelica (1991) 
15. The Fall, 'Lost In Music' from The Infotainment Scam (1993) 
16. Suicide, 96 Tears from The First Album (1977)
17. Drinking Electricity, 'Shaking All Over' from 7" (1980) 
18. Primitive Calculators, 'Shout' from Primitive Calculators (1982) 
19 Half Japanese, 'Tangled Up In Blue' from Half Gentlemen Not Beasts (1980) 
20. DJ Smallcock, 'Radio-Activity' from Kraftworks (1999)
21. Vertical Slit, 'I Remember Nothing' from Under The Blood Red Lava Lamp (1986) 
22. Dredd Foole and the Din, 'Ghost Rider' from Ghost Rider-Frankie Teardrop (2006)
23. Happy Mondays, 'Step On' from Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches (1990)
24. Rowland S. Howard, 'Life's What You Make It' from Pop Crimes (2009) 
25. Slap Happy Humphrey, 'Chihei-sen' from Slap Happy Humphrey (1994)
26. Patty Waters, 'Black is the color of my True love's Hair' from Patty Waters Sings (1966)
27. Dead Raven Choir, 'Our Mother The Mountain' from My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind (2007)
28. Townes van Zandt, 'Shrimp Song' from Rain on a Conga Drum (1991)
29. The Mountain Goats, 'Tell Me On A Sunday' from Hot Garden Stomp (1993)
30. Dear Astronaut, 'California Love' unreleased
31. The Gun Club, 'Cool Drink of Water' from Fire Of Love (1981)
32. The Lost Domain, 'Pearline' from White Man At The Door (2007)
33. Neil Innes and Son, 'Cum On Feel the Noize' from Miniatures (A Sequence of Fifty-One Tiny Masterpieces 
     Edited By Morgan Fisher) (1980) 
34. Alastair Galbraith, 'Getting Older' from God Save The Clean (1998)
35. Roy Montgomery, 'Used To' from Just Melancholy 7" (1996) 
36. Peter Jefferies, 'Scissors' from Electricity (1994) 
37. Akira Rabelais, 'Trisieme Gnossienne' from Eisoptrophobia (2001) 
38. Robert Wyatt, 'At Last I Am Free' from Nothing Can Stop Us (1982)
39. Plinth, 'Albatross I' from Albatross (2010)