Anastasia Diavasti of NTIZEZA [Instagram] and Sumugan Sivanesan of fugitive radio planned to research around a common interest in Cassie Thornton’s book The Hologram (2020) and their different approaches to (performative) radio. Spurred on by a timely meeting with Cassie when she was laid over in Athens in March, the duo set about working intuitively. They made recordings at the recent student occupations at Olympia Theatre [Instagram] and Rex Theatre [Instagram], visited the Vio.Me workers co-op in Thessaloniki and primed themselves for telepathy.
For Onassis AiR Open Day #6 they will host a live broadcast to play out their recordings and interviews, and reflect on the themes that emerge with invited guests. These include: dance, solidarity, SF, teargas and cats. It will combine spaces at Onassis AiR, Athens, with spaces at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht.
This month’s episode is in conversation with Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Professor at the University of the Arts London, and a renown curator and researcher. It was recorded during a studio visit at the Jan van Eyck Academie, and initially broadcast live as a “porosity session” on the morning of 26 April 2023. I was curious to probe Charles for his thoughts about the recent appearance of radio in contemporary art, and specifically about the inclusion of ruangrupa’s RuRuRadio in the 31st São Paulo Biennal 2014 (main image), for which he was part of the curatorial team. I also asked him to bring in some music. No spoiler! Listen on to hear his selections.
In order of appearance “Creative Labour” features the voices of: Riar Rizaldi whose film Becquerel (2021) screened before the broadcast, Maud van den Beuken who gives a live audio description followed by Merien Rodrigûes (São Paulo) [Instagram] and Anastasia Diavasti (Athens) [Instagram] who dialed in their audio descriptions. Chen Jehn, one of the proprietors of Limestone Books discusses their ideas for the shop with prompts from book artist Michiel Romme and Kim David Bots, who also contributed live improvised music. There is a brief excerpt from a pre-recorded interview with Jo Frenken who established the print studio at the Jan Van Eyck Academie and Rose Nordin gets in the last (delirious) word. Wen Hsuan Chang’s audio piece Paper Ripping Paper can be heard in the background, alongside the music of the Commodores.
This mix announces fugitive productions’ techno samba release on Bandcamp, four drum tracks made over two visits to Brazil during two presidential elections (2018 and 2022). Made with Mixxx free and open source DJ software and a Numark DJ2GO2 Touch, this mix proposes a way to work with these rhythms by looping, filtering and slip-phasing beats. It’s certainly repetitive! At times minimal, occasionally “asymmetrical” and at best hypnotic with a few jump cuts to keep listeners on their toes. May not be suitable for driving. Try dancing?
fugitive radio rádio em fuga in Brazil 2022 was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.
NightShift at Limestone Books, Thursday March 2, 11pm – Friday March 3, 6am. Broadcasting live from midnight on http://p-node.org.
Set your alarm clocks! Maastricht art book store Limestone Books [Instagram] opens for 24 hours on the first Thursday of each month. On March 2 it will be joined by Rose Nordin and fugitive radio [Instagram], installing a print salon, radio studio and screening room for the NightShift.
At 11pm we will watch Riar Rizaldi’s short film, Becquerel (2021), and host a Q&A with the director. Between midnight and 6am (March 3) we will collectively design and print a zine, Transcription from the night waves, for participants to take home at dawn. Simultaneously we will broadcast a live durational “audio fanzine” on http://p-node.org.
For the insomniacs, Maud van den Beuken [Instagram] will entrance us with audio descriptions as Kim David Bots [Instagram] prompts improvised musical interludes. Guests are invited to generate written transcriptions (in any language) and interpretive illustrations to be printed with a Gestetner, typewriter and drawing tools. Songs, chatter, recordings, musical objects and other sound-making matters are all welcome contributions to the radio.
We propose that voices from far and wide punctuate the night air. We encourage callers from local farms, South East Asian book stores and North American mountains to summon their surroundings in a communal dream to be documented and interpreted in print and across networks. Please send your texts and voice messages via WhatsApp: +49 1525 7610023.
Feel free to bring along sleeping bags, pillows, pyjamas, hot water bottles and whatever else you are comfortable to work in. Tea, coffee and nibbles will be provided.
The speakeasy was convened as a space for experimentation, spontaneity and improvisation, although it ended being a tightly packed schedule that ran a little over time. A theme of “songs” emerged in the days beforehand, but was not a requirement. The event was broadcast live with the proviso that it would only be documented internally and not be archived online. In the following days, all participants agreed to re-broadcast and upload with some minor amendments to account for time restrictions and sound quality. Many thanks to all who participated, attended and tuned in!
During its time at Jan van Eyck Academie fugitive radio will host a monthly “speakeasy”, as a testing ground for emergent radiophonic formats. These might include sound art, music, poetics, conversation pieces and other forms yet to be discovered and named. fugitive radio seeks to make a space for experimentation, spontaneity and improvisation.
In the coming months the speakeasy will broadcast live at irregular times and from different geographic locations, but always online at TTnode, a decentralised network of servers, antennae and DAB+ (digitial audio broadcasting) boxes scattered around France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The inaugural speakeasy will occur on Friday 20 January 2023 from studio 111 at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht NL. You’re welcome to join from 17.00 and we will go live between 18.00–19.00.
01. 0:00:00 Simulacrum – Samba tem digital
02. 0:04:02 Juan Atkins – Other Side Of Life
03. 0:07:10 Der Zyklus – Diffeomorphism
04. 0:09:32 MU – Out of Breach
05. 0:12:12 Phuture – Acid Tracks (12″ Version)
06. 0:16:38 Adonis – No Way Back (Instrumental)
07. 0:21:26 Model 500 – NO UFO’S (Instrumental)
08. 0:26:46 Simulacrum – Zona Contacto
09. 0:28:12 DJ Joe Lewis – Acid Falls (Original Mix)
10. 0:30:52 Da Posse – It’s My Life (Aluh mix)
11. 0:34:52 Steve Poindexter – Computer Madness
12. 0:37:24 Despina – Alexa In Disrepair
13. 0:40:16 Traxman – BAD INDIGESTION
14. 0:43:46 Simulacrum – Bloco Techno
15. 0:47:44 Der Zyklus – Eigenface (Facial Asymetry)
16. 0:50:46 Model 500 – Digital Solutions
Riddim writing, software affordances, rhythmachine music.
This mix is far from perfect. It was recorded live and thus presents a “snapshot” of my thinking/feeling “in-the-mix”. It was made using MIXXX, a free/livre and open source (FLOSS) DJing/podcasting software and with a near pocket-sized Numark DJ2GO2 Touch USB controller that I bought last year to use while on a series of residencies in Brazil. The device compromises on controls for size, so it does not have separate pots for Hi/Mid/Low EQs on each channel that would seem essential for mixing. Instead it has a single knob that is mapped on MIXXX to a Lo/Hi cut sweep filter.
These genres of music are also relatively unfamiliar to me. I learned to mix garage, grime, dancehall, desi, baile funk, hip hop and what became known as “global bass” in the early 2000s, performing as Sven Simulacrum. I stopped around 2012 to focus on other research interests. Recently I’ve been curious about the abstract sonics and asymmetrical rhythms of “experimental dance music” (EDM) often made by producers who are “adjacent” to established genres such as footwork (Jlin) and ballroom (quest?onmarc) alongside high energy styles forwarded by labels including Principe, Lisbon and Yes No Wave, Yogyakarta. Music that I’m tentatively calling “other technos”.
The notion of “techno samba” emerged during fugitive radio’s recent time in Brazil, and particularly while in residence at Residência São João (RSJ); a farm, coffee plantation and self-organised artist space in the countryside of Rio De Janeiro in late October–November 2022. RSJ is reputed for its somsocosmos music residency, so I sought to spend my time there to working on sound production. Before leaving São Paulo late in October, I met with Coletivo Digital [Instagram] at their space in Pinheiros and my first task at RSJ was to I edit our conversation for a podcast. The collective had sent me a song to use, “Canção tem samba” by Trilha Sonora, recorded in their FLOSS studio and I’d thought to make a remix, also using FLOSS; specifically a suite of programs I was working with for Thalaam Riddim Reapers, alongside Luci Dayhew and Brendy Hale. Simultaneously, I undertook the same process with the popular proprietary music production and performance software Ableton Live, to understand the different affordances of these digital tools. I must admit, I was much happier with the results in Ableton and continued to use it to develop what became “Samba tem digital”, thinking once I was done I would return to a FLOSS set-up.
I should have seen it coming, but after some days of tinkering I opened a folder of musical skeletons I began in Ableton, 2018, when I first visited Brazil. At that time I was working on an urban research/cooking project, but had some inkling beforehand that Brazil would re-ignite my interest in music, as I had purchased a small USB keyboard that came packaged with an LE version of the software. In Rio I intuitively began making recordings on my smartphone of music I would hear everyday in my unfamiliar surrounds. This was also during the time of the presidential elections and there were regular demonstrations—manifestaçãoes—in the streets and plazas, notably the ele não campaign against Jair Bolsonaro, who went on to win by a significant margin. In Rio, I began to transcribe some of the rhythms I had recorded into MIDI—“riddim writing” is how I described it, as it bore some resemblance to writing, editing and fine-tuning text. After the patterns were entered into the software, I would run them through different drum kits and samples. Swapping drum kits on the fly is simple to do in Ableton and can lead to surprising results. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I sent a couple of riddims to some friends whom I thought might be interested to voice them, but received little response. Later I dropped them into fugitive frequency podcasts, just to put them to some use and to “see” how they sounded.
At RSJ, I was the sole inhabitant at figuera, a ground level cottage by an unsealed road that ran through the property, that could have easily housed four or five more residents. I had a small PA at my disposal and would often spend my nights mixing tracks, knowing that I wouldn’t be keeping anyone awake. My closest neighbour, Javier, was maybe 20 meters or so down the road. While I would make noise in the evenings, he would wake up early to practice trumpet and we never seemed to bother each other. Prior to moving to RSJ during the COVID pandemic, Javier was based in Rio where he’d been involved in a gallery/project space where I believe he was brewing beer, a practice he was carrying on at RSJ. I asked if he was thinking to play trumpet with others—maybe join a samba bloco?—a popular sport of sorts in Brazil. He said something about playing in a “techno samba” group and I was intrigued.
In July last year Kode9/Steve Goodman released his album Escapology (2022). Like many others, I have much respect for the London based DJ, Hyperdub label boss and theorist. Alongside his colleague Kodwo Eshun, whose book More Brilliant than the Sun (1998) unleashed a slew of concepts concerned with black alienation, technology and “rhythmachine music”, Goodman has been a steady influence on my thinking about sound and EDM. At RSJ I listened to some recent interviews in which he recalled his early love for jungle, which reminded me of the “hardcore continuum”, a termed coined by another of Goodman’s contemporaries, music journalist Simon Reynolds. It describes morphing but consistent musical genres and scenes that extended from early hardcore rave in the late 1980s UK, to jungle, drum and bass, garage, grime and dubstep and its ecology of record shops, pirate radio stations, parties, promoters and clubs. The notion of a hardcore continuum has propelled my interests in EDM from the time that jungle and drum and bass first entered my consciousness growing up in Sydney, and a curiousity to tap back into it is what prompted me to start mixing again for fugitive radio.
It was again the time of the presidential election when I returned to Brazil in September 2022, and shortly after I arrived at RSJ a second run-off election was scheduled. While now relatively removed from the action in the bigger cities, the mood at the fazenda and among its community was anxious. On the day I arrived, I was swept up in a manifestação organised in the nearby town of São José do Vale do Rio Preto. The following weekend, on the 30 October election the working class icon and former president, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva defeated Bolsanaro by a narrow margin, indicating that the country remained polarized.
So it was strange to find myself in the after glow of the elections and among RSJ’s idyllic surroundings in late Spring, turning to Reynolds’ 2012 book Energy Flash, which recounts his experiences of early rave and jungle in the UK, and following the scene as it transformed in the US. Early in his book Reynolds interviews Juan Atkins who coined the term “techno” to describe the music he and his friends were developing in Detroit, inspired by his high school readings of Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock (1970) and its sequel The Third Wave (1980), which includes references to “Techno-Rebels” who “embraced technology as a means of empowerment and resistance”. Reynolds recounts Atkins describing himself as a “warrior for the technological revolution” (Reynolds 2012). For me, Atkin’s attitude reminds me of the techno-optimism of early net culture and open source movements; perhaps a “past potential future” to use a phrase associated with the Otolith Group, a collaboration/collective co-founded by Eshun and Anjalika Sagar in 2002, known for their film-essays. Reynolds points out that Atkins and his friends and collaborators, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson—mythologised as the Belleville Three—used the term “techno” to distinguish themselves from the other black dance music gaining popularity in the UK: house from Chicago. In his recent history of Detroit techno, Assembling a Black Counter Culture (2022), DeForrest Brown Jr [Instagram] notes that May preferred the term “High Tech Soul”, which became the name of a 2006 documentary.
Reynolds describes house music as “inorganic”: “machines talking to each other, in an un-real acoustic space” (2012: “New Jack City), which resonated with my experiences of working with software. He emphasises the musical form of the “track” (ie a drum track) rather than a song (2012: “Disco’s Revenge”), as a tool developed by house music DJs such as Frankie Knuckles (1955–2014); “house” being a contraction of “Warehouse”, the Chicago club where Knuckles honed his skills. Initially made on reel-to-reel tape, these would be used to mix, supplement and extend long instrumental sections of records. So the “techno drum track” became the point of reference to the music I was developing at RSJ and I adopted Javier’s phrase, “techno samba”, to describe it.
I’m aware of a recent re-appraisal of techno in sound studies, black studies, queer studies and contemporary art. For example, the short film Black to Techno (2019) by Jenn Nkiru, comissioned by Frieze and Gucci for their series Second Summer of Love (2019) recalling the music-driven cultural revolution of 1988.
Most significant is the campaign to “Make Techno Black Again”, fronted by the aforementioned writer and musician DeForrest Brown Jr/Speaker Music. With his interests firmly rooted in the black working class experience of Detroit, Brown Jr’s book Assembling a Black Counter Culture (2022), proposes to delink techno from the hardcore continuum and its associations with (European) rave culture and rather re-frame it as a distinct African American artform and “embodied aural history”. Perhaps a hardcore discontinuum?
Brown Jr presents his thoughts as an extension of Eshun’s writing and he also responds to ideas raised by Goodman in his book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear (2012). In the podcast below produced by Haus der Kulteren der Welt, Berlin and Camden Art Centre, London, 2021, Brown Jr, Goodman and musician Nkisi discuss the migration of techno from Detroit to Europe.
While I’m still working my way through Brown Jr’s detailed volume, it has pointed me towards some interesting music and history, some of which appears in this mix, notably the “acid house” tracks: Phuture’s “Acid Tracks” (1987), Adonis’ “No Way Back” (1986) and Steve Poindexter’s “Computer Madness” (1989). I’m also curious about the continuity of acid house in footwork, as can be heard in productions by Traxman (AKA Corky Strong), whose “Bad Indigestion” from his Acid Lyfe (2018) release also features in this mix. His 2019 reworking of Steve Poindexter’s “Work that Mutha Fucker” (1989), pressed on the same record as “Computer Madness”, is another notable track.
Another influence is Brown Jr’s descriptions of how house DJ’s would loop and mix instrumental rhythms breaks and drum tracks, into repetitive hypnotic sequences that could last up to an hour or more—“music that would never stop”, according to Larry Levan (1954–1992) the legendary DJ at the New York’s Paradise Garage in the 1980s. A combination of these readings and the qualities of these musics have led me to attempt looping and crossfading back and forth between tracks more than I am accustomed to doing, and admittedly with mixed results, nevertheless giving a sense of where “techno samba” might go. Another technique I’m curious to experiment with, but am limited by my current set-up, is the “rhythmic fader” DJing techniques of Derrick May (listen here) and that I find reminiscent of another influence on my mixing, Venus X (listen here). (Incidentally Venus X also features in Wu Tsang’s contribution to the Freize and Gucci series,Into a Space of Love (2019) concerned with New York House.)
While I am processing Brown Jr’s arguments in this mix, as a testing ground for thought, I nevertheless regard my approach to techno is in its most generic sense, ie rhythmic dance music made with machines.
fugitive radio rádio em fuga in Brazil 2022 was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.
fugitive radio attended the “Techno-Cul-de-Sac” worksession, November 20–25, 2022, organised by Constant in Brussels. Co-convened by members Martino Morandi and Peter Westenberg it proposed a collective encounter with Brussels via an investigation of zoning, infrastructure, and technology, bringing together artists, architects, and urban researchers. While the worksession was not about radio per se, radio was the medium that underpinned our activities, concluding as a live “alleycasting” broadcast assisted by Radio Panik and p-node.org. My report for MARCH, “Techno On the Radio” is here. Notably, materials used are licensed with Copyleft 2022 Constant: you may copy, distribute, and modify this material according to the terms of the Collective Conditions for Re-Use (CC4r) 1.0.
A conversation with Toronto-based radio artist Andrew O’Connor [Instagram] and Todd Lanier Lester one of the founders of Lanchonete.org, an urban research and artist project based around a neighbourhood lunch counter in Conjunto Santos Dumont in central São Paulo.
Late in September 2022, Andrew installed a site-specific radio artwork in the laneway of Conjunto Santos Dumont, featuring a series of interviews he conducted with residents in collaboration with architect, urbanist and interpreter Gabi Ushida.
On the first weekend of October we collaborated on “Rádio Santos Dumont” a day of workshops, events and performances. We were joined by Merien Rodrigues of Itinero Grapho [Instagram] who hosts workshops in a mobile printmaking studio that unpacks from her Kombi van. Also on board was journalist Amber Cortes and illustrator Carl Nelson who had both traveled from the US to be in Brazil during the presidential elections (2 October). Local musicians Gabriel Edé [Instagram] and Vitor Wutzki [Instagram] contributed a very successful songwriting workshop. Carol Godefroid [Instagram] and Gabriel Carnelós [Instagram] provided live translations and photo-documentation, and their voices feature in this episode alongside those of Francisco Josepha de Castro AKA Chico and Nadija.
Woven through this episode are excerpts from Andrew O’Connor’s radio installation and edits of a recording of São Paulo-based musician Felinto [Bandcamp] whose performance closed the first day of the event.
Special mention must go to the people of Conjunto Santos Dumont who welcomed us: notably Liduina whose fruit shop was a base for our activities and Tarcisio, whose bar is the base for Lanchonete.org.
fugitive radio rádio em fuga in Brazil 2022 is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.