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31 August 2016

re-sound: Sublating the Symbol - an album of Australian work

CD cover art by Neil McLeod: <em>Individual Sensation</em>, hand-painted photograph Image: CD cover art by Neil McLeod: Individual Sensation, hand-painted photograph  

re-sound: Sublating the Symbol is the title of a new CD with Australian work just released by the Italian label ArsPublica. The name re-sound is associated with a series of Australian recordings I have curated over the past 18 years, and, as with the previous releases, this new CD is marked by transgressions of musical style. This applies to the individual Australian works on this album and also to the compilation as a whole. Musical style can be seen in relation to the question of meaning in music. At its most basic level of signification, music is indexical of its style. Surfing swiftly across a number of radio stations gives an idea of how little time we need as listeners to identify jazz, classical, metal, Klezmer and so on.

'Sublation' is a translation of the German philosophical term 'Aufhebung', which is linked to dialectical thinking and, in its verb form, can mean anything from preserve, pick up, and keep, all the way to abolish, cancel, and repeal. These diverse and conflicting meanings make 'sublation' a fitting conceptual tool to explore the dialectic of music's representational affordances and its non-signifying presence. Put differently, the musical works on this CD engage with the symbolic by emphasising it where it may otherwise be concealed, and by questioning it where it may otherwise be taken for granted.

The CD brings together a large number of Australian musicians from diverse fields, including jazz, contemporary classical, electronic dance, and the first step in sublating the symbolic dimension in music was to ask the authors to push beyond their own boundaries of style and genre. The result is a striking mix of contrasting musical expressions that question existing views about the ambiguity of meaning in music. In fact, I would like to see this album as testimony to music being more accurate in its signification of emotions and existential concerns than natural language. One day we might arrive at an understanding that the apparent ambiguities of musical meaning have more to do with our struggles to translate musical meaning into words than with music's distinctive capacity to speak.

re-sound: Sublating the Symbol features the following works: Afglu for trumpet, trombone, guitar and piano by Jordan Murray, Adam Starr and Paul Williamson; Momentary Pleasures for piano by Paul Moulatlet; Pillow Talk for tenor recorder and accordion by Thomas Reiner; Dali's Double-Toasted Sandwich by David Haberfeld; Unmasked Pantomine by Emma Rogers; Jonestown Threnody by David Chisholm; is by Mary Finsterer; Firewoman by Ralph Whiteoak; Forlorn Remix by Kim Lajoie, Thomas Reiner, Tristram Williams and Paul Williamson; The Departing by Sara Fung; and V by Kim Lajoie.

Further links

re-sound: Sublating the Symbol - CD details on AMC Online - see also the Ars Publica website.


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