OUR TELLURIC CONVERSATION
John Duncan & Carl Michael von Hausswolff
40 pp. full color catalogue with CD in seperate slimline jewelcase, encased in rubber-coated paper sleeve with the title embossed in braille
Duration: 70 minutes
23Five

Read the complete conversation

This exquisitely produced offering on the ever classy 23five label consists of a CD containing three extended tracks, "...Like a Lizard", "Entry (Enhanced)" and "Yet another (very) abridged and linear interpretation of the history of our planet as we know it" and a 40-page booklet containing a transcription of an extended conversation between Messrs Duncan and Hausswolf, with occasional prompts from Jim Haynes. In the domain of sound art, a description of the concepts behind the works is often more interesting to read than the works themselves are to listen to perhaps the fact that one can admire something without necessarily enjoying it is what the artists are setting out to explore but that doesn't apply here: this is some of the most satisfying and, dare I say it, musical work the two men have produced for some time. That said, the book doesn't provide any information about the works on the disc, not even the origins of the Burroughs-like story Hausswolf tells on track one of a man who travelled to Egypt to acquire sacred knowledge of cobra venom (plus a trip to Thailand to learn how to speak the language of the gecko..). Instead there's a wealth of detailed discussion of the pair's more celebrated projects, including Duncan's legendary Scare, TVC 1 and Radio Code, and von Hausswolf's experiments with NATO-monitored pirate radio in Iceland and his The Will of Tupi-Tupi, the Rooster, and GK, the Dove (if you're a paid-up member of the RSPB, you'd better give this last one a wide berth). All in all, a fascinating and thought-provoking read and a damn good listen to boot.
Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic


By now universally recognized for their work at the margin of description and significance, Duncan and Von Hausswolff once again fused their backgrounds and artistic conceptions for this album, quite difficult to penetrate and enriched by a substantial booklet where the protagonists exchange explanations, opinions and stories related to their respective actions and careers. The three tracks, about 63 minutes of sounds and words, are question marks that remain planted in our mind even after several consecutive listenings. "...Like a lizard", preceded by over ten minutes of scarcely captivating repetitive signals soon establishing their ill-tempered racket, is a 2004 novel narrated via whispered voice. I usually tend not to focus on the reading in cases like this, preferring instead to receive the piece as a text-sound composition (which works much better for me, and yes, this time too). Both "Entry (enhanced)" and "Yet another (very) abridged and linear interpretation of the history of our planet as we know it" are scientifically charged experiences in that zone where the brain is certain of hearing a transmitted message moments before this effectively happens. Mixing shortwaves and electronics, Duncan and Von Hausswolff build intense crescendos from nothingness to a very noisy zenith and back to utter silence again, depriving us of space-time coordinates for long minutes after the record's over. Your tenacity will transform this sickly fascinating CD from disturbing to significant.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes