Christopher Bissonnette “In A Second Floor Window”

A cathatric release of sonic self-expression.

Illuha “Tobira”

As a newly-formed trio, Illuha opens the door to detailed percussive landscapes.


Zimoun “ModularGuitarFields I-VI”

While it first comes across like an unforgiving, isolated landscape, the layers hidden within reveal details teeming with life and movement, like exploring the interior of a massive glacier…


Fifteen Questions with Kenneth Kirschner

Kenneth Kirschner about Alternative Tuning Systems

“I’m working on something that uses 5 different tuning systems at once. There’s some real questions as to whether I’m going to get through it alive.”

Name: Kenneth Kirschner
Nationality: American 
Occupation: Composer 
Current Release: Kenneth Kirschner’s July 27, 2022 is out via 12k

Recommendations on the topic of alternative tuning systems: I don’t know if this still exists or can be found anywhere in the aether, but Johnny Reinhard used to do an annual Christmas morning broadcast every year on the radio station WKCR called “Microtonal Bach”. His pitch was basically that what Bach really wrote for was Werckmeister III, and I, for one, found his arguments totally compelling and genuinely believed I could hear previously imperceptible turns and intentions when listening to Bach in Werckmeister III. Every year I would tune in to the show religiously, one might say, and it really had a huge impact on me.

And while it’s not entirely or even primarily about tuning, I can’t recommend enough the amazing book Music, Language and the Brain by Aniruddh Patel. The tuning parts are great, but there’s so much more to it. Everyone should read it.

If you enjoyed this interview with Kenneth Kirschner and would like to know more, visit his official website, where he publishes all of his finished compositions. He is also on twitter. For more thoughts by him, we recommend our earlier interview with him

For a deep look into his thoughts and musical processes, download Imperfect Forms, which, contains an 180 page ebook; 4,5 hours of new and exclusive music; a generative software piece; specially curated videos as well as a three-part ‘Best Of“ of selected pieces from the past 15 years.

Over the years, Kenneth Kirschner has collaborated and published with a wide range of artists, including Taylor Deupree, Dirk Serries aka VidnaObmana aka Fear Falls Burning, Joseph Branciforte, Tomas Phillips, and Zimoun.

When did you first start getting interested in the world of alternative tuning systems?  

I first got interested in alternate tunings soon after moving to New York City in my early 20s. My initial impression was that everyone who was interested in alternate tuning systems was a crazy person, and as you can imagine, that was a pretty big appeal. 

Over time, I’ve refined this observation into my current maxim about alternate tunings, which is: “Every person who’s into alternate tunings is a crazy person who believes that they alone have discovered the secret of the universe. And they’re all wrong – except me! I just happen to be that one person who has actually discovered the secret of the universe.”

I take this as my motto, but I guess anyone who’s into tuning could just as easily adopt it as well.

Which artists, approaches, albums or performances using alternative tuning systems captured your imagination in the beginning?

Balinese gamelan was definitely one of the first things that got me thinking beyond equal temperament, and hearing great Indian classical music helped as well. 

In terms of a more Western or avant-garde tradition, I feel like Terry Riley’s The Harp of New Albion was one of the first microtonal pieces that really got me interested in exploring this sort of thing.

Working with a different tuning system can be a very incisive transition. Aside from musical considerations, there can also be personal motivations for looking for alternatives. Was this the case for you, and if so, in which way?

I’m always trying to do weird stuff. I mean, that’s my job! 

And tuning is one of those absolutely fundamental aspects of music – so I just can’t imagine how you wouldn’t be interested in it, if you’re the sort of person who’s trying to ask very basic questions and hopefully do things a little differently.

How would you describe the shift of moving from one tuning system to another?

As with so much of my work, I think like an electronic musician – which is of course exactly what I actually am. And so different tuning systems for me are really just patches – they’re parameters, they’re knobs you can twist and buttons you can push, presets you can call up that work or don’t work. And that’s very much how I approach tuning. I’m not a theory-forward or math-forward tuning person – it’s all done by ear for me, by messing around, by experimenting, by seeing what feels right.  

A big piece like the new one – “July 27, 2022” – is really the epitome of this approach. 

I did pick three different tuning systems for it that seemed to get along in interesting ways – Meantone, Pythagorean, and Werckmeister III. But as I was building out the material – which is a very improvisational, very spontaneous process – I just kept twisting around the root notes of all the tunings, turning all those knobs to shift the centering of the scales until something interesting gelled.  And what you end up with is a very strange thing.

So I’m really in it for what works – for what gets results. I’m happy to change systems, to reset everything, to throw things around randomly until I come up with something that makes sense to me and sounds good.

Terms like consonant and dissonant are used in school, but mostly with very limited understanding of what they mean. How has your own idea of these terms changed over time and how do you see them today?

When I tried studying composition in college in the late 1980s, it was definitely a 12-tone world. And I remember my professor loudly smashing down these huge dissonant chords and me feeling very pressured to like them. Little did I know how close I was! 

But it wasn’t until hearing Feldman some years later that I came to understand that it’s not the chords themselves, but how you play them: those same crazy dissonances played with the softest touch at the edge of silence can be incredibly profound, in all the ways that smashing them down loudly just wasn’t for me.  

What was your own learning curve/creative development like when it comes to alternative tuning systems – what were the challenges and breakthroughs?

There’s hints and nervous little experiments with tuning here and there in my early work, but the first place I got serious about it was with a piece called “May 3, 1997”. 


The tech I was using at the time had no capacity for microtuning, but I was still excited about the idea, so I found a way to hack something together: I ended up remapping my sampler’s key tracking to pitch, so that everything was just a little askew. I have no idea what the resulting system was – but it’s really nice! 

I’d love to find a way to reconstruct it someday. But whatever that weird little tuning actually was, the piece became all about exploring it.

Incidentally, that same piano patch (though in 12TET) formed the basis for my first post_piano album with Taylor Deupree, among other things.

Tuning drifted in and out of my work for quite a while after that, with no stable process or system emerging until the early 2010s. And what I hit on then was what a friend of mine helpfully termed “competitive tunings” – multiple parallel systems of equal temperament, but detuned microtonally against each other. So you get the benefits and familiarity of ET within each system of material, but the systems talk to each other microtonally, giving you a lot of weird resonances and unexpected cross conversations. 

The first time I tried this was with a piece called “November 7, 2010”, which ended up on the album Twenty Ten:

I remember confidently predicting to Taylor that if anything this crazy was ever released on 12k, there would be mass suicides among his listeners. (Which hopefully I was proven wrong on?) I continued on with this approach for a while, with the piece “September 13, 2012” from Compressions & Rarefactions being perhaps the apotheosis of this technique:

As with everything, it eventually runs out of steam. By the mid 2010s I found myself focusing more and more on counterpoint, and tuning questions mostly drifted into the background, until I unexpectedly hit upon a new approach.

This started with a piece called “September 24, 2019”, which is a sort of fake string quartet:

Here, each instrument – each individual voice – uses a different tuning system with a different root note or fundamental. All those systems and roots are picked out by ear – and, importantly, they’re picked out after the harmonic structures emerge. So you’re essentially applying the tunings to “follow” the harmonies, and applying different tunings to each individual instrument to follow its pitch space and the contours of what it’s doing melodically. Plus each movement of the piece uses a different set of tunings, so you’re getting a whole bunch of tunings at once and they’re also shifting and changing over the course of the composition.

In my own notes or thinking I call this “ex post facto” or EPF tuning:  you construct the harmonies first, then apply the tuning to them. Clearly this only works electronically! Unless, that is, you have some incredibly patient string players who are willing to sit around and keep switching from tuning system to tuning system until you happen to randomly stumble upon something you like. 

But the real key here is that each voice or instrument gets its own tuning – so you may end up with different “versions” of the same note, with lots of weird collisions and tight corners. And you’re selecting – again, by ear, just by listening – all those tunings for how they’ll talk to each other, for how they bend or shape the melodic lines or vertical harmonies in interesting or unexpected or perhaps just weird ways.  

And this ends up being the blueprint for the big new piano piece, which settles on three different tuning systems, one for each voice, but manipulates their roots to follow the harmonies and create those strange, shimmering decay resonances. 

I’m working on something now that uses five different tuning systems at once, but there’s still some real questions as to whether I’m going to get through it alive.

How far has working with alternative tuning systems led to creating different music for you personally? Are there creative ideas/pieces which you could not realize in equal temperament? 

I think of there as being two broad classes of tuning approaches in my work, what I call “non-constitutive” and “constitutive.” 

The former are places where the tuning enhances what you’re doing, maybe giving a shade of color or subtlety to the harmonies – but which you could easily envision in equal temperament without losing too much. Often, for me, this is more than anything about trying to push against the limitations of the sample-based approach – so that the subtle shading or imprecision of the tuning lends a greater sense of naturalism to the instrumental sound. It may be hard to put your finger on, and may not sound super microtonal, but the recording ends up coming across as somehow less synthy in the end.

But the “constitutive” tuning pieces are a whole other thing – and these are pieces you just can’t imagine without the tuning, that couldn’t be played in 12TET without something very fundamental being lost. 

That early piece “May 3, 1997” is one example, and of course the new big crazy piano thing is another. What would that piece be without the microtuning? You certainly wouldn’t want to listen to it for 4 hours (not that you necessarily want to anyway).

Of course, these boundaries aren’t always quite so clear. Consider the case of my original “April 20, 2015” and the acoustic adaptation we did for Greyfade. The original, despite its clunky samples, is quite microtonal! 

Take a listen:

That uses the process mentioned above of microtuning different systems of equal tempered material against each other, in this case hockets of violin and piano samples.

But when Joe Branciforte and I sat down to develop the acoustic adaptation, the first thing we did was throw out the microtonality – it was just too much to take on. That was definitely the right choice in retrospect, given the immense challenges we faced with the project. And it definitely works just fine in equal temperament:

The first thing you notice, of course, is the tremendous improvement in timbre, the richness and nuance our wonderful performers bring to the piece that my clumsy chopped-up samples just can’t achieve. 

But what’s interesting, I think, on going back to that original source recording, is how the microtonality does lead you, in a very subtle way, to a different place. If you compare in particular the endings of the two versions, the very final sections, the acoustic version ends up being very, very pretty, very traditionally, consonantly sad, and that’s quite beautiful and works nicely for a clean and emotional ending. But the old microtonal version has, in retrospect, this very compelling ambiguity that’s been a little lost in the translation: where you end up at the end of the piece is somewhere subtly different, somewhere a bit more ambivalent, somewhere that’s perhaps, in its own quiet way, more interesting. 

So maybe that line between constitutive and non-constitutive approaches isn’t so clear after all, and there’s still some interesting grey spaces in between.

With electronic tools, playing and composing in just intonation has become a whole lot easier. Do you find this interesting? What are some of the technologies, controllers and instruments you use for your own practice? 

OK, now is probably the time to say that I am not, in truth, a just intonation person. I have many friends who are JI people, and I have some pithy quotes about why I don’t like JI – but I feel I should probably keep them off the record for fear my JI friends will run up and stab me with sharpened tuning forks.

But technology I can talk about – and wow, what a mess! It’s ridiculous! I mean, tuning is the simplest possible thing for a computer – it literally doesn’t care about equal temperament, it’ll do whatever you want. But every last piece of software made is either completely hardwired into 12TET or has some proprietary, idiosyncratic version of its own weird interpretation of what it thinks microtuning is or should be that completely contradicts every other possible piece of software’s approach or that just doesn’t actually do that one tiny thing you actually do want it to do! It’s hopeless.

Somewhere out there in the mist is MIDI 2.0, which is supposed to fix all this. But given that I’m still using the exact same MIDI protocol that came out of the box with the Yamaha DX7 I got in 1984, you can see why I’m a little pessimistic.

Some artists approach tuning systems from a strongly scientific angle. In case you’re interested in this, what do you feel “research” could potentially uncover and provide in terms of tuning systems? Where do you see the biggest potential for exploration at the moment? 

So the scientific process and the culture of science are deeply enmeshed in my artistic practice and my whole way of thinking. 

I spent the first formative decade of my life as an independent composer supporting myself by working at a day job in science – I was the secretary to a famous mad scientist. And the whole ethos of that world slowly began to permeate everything I did, and in a really great way. I came to realize the extent to which scientists and artists are really, very deeply, after the same fundamental things. To this day, I still spend hours and hours every week reading scientific journals and trying to keep up with everything that’s happening.

So how does this intensive immersion in the philosophy and methodology of science relate to my tuning approach? It doesn’t! 

Sure, the philosophy is in there somewhere, and at some level it informs everything I do, hovering quietly in the background and saturating everything. But in reality, as noted above, I basically just turn knobs, and tuning is just one more knob on my synths that I’m using to try to get a new or good sound.

Do you still use equal temperament? What are some of the aspects and goals for which you find it suitable? 

Much as I love to go on a good rant about being a brave freedom fighter against the evil hegemony of the equal tempered empire, in reality, I use equal temperament all the time. It’s fine! It’s a great tuning system and there’s tons you can do with it. 

Often, after going down some crazy microtonal rabbit hole for months and months, I’ll stumble back into equal temperament and be like, hey, this is OK! 

So basically you shouldn’t listen to anything I’m saying.

Will Samson “Harp Swells”

Beautiful and ghostly new work from Will Samson. Available September 8th.

info here.

Ohio “Drift Of Autumn”

The latest in Ohio’s Drift series is available now.
Info and links here.

Kenneth Kirschner “July 27, 2022”




Akhira Sano “Phase Contrast From Recollection”

The discreet punctuations and dynamics of piano, tines and sine tones.

Solo Andata “Slip Casting”

Metal and smoke, a mechanical urgency.

12k CD template redesign, 2023

Due to increases in costs and minimums from our printer on uncoated stock 12k has moved back to using a matte varnish for the CD packaging. to conceptually justify the change in material we thought a design refresh was in order.

The new package features a typography-free cover, with info/text moved to the back panel (+ an accompanying insert card if needed) which frees up the inside to be a two-panel spread.

I’m really pleased with the way it came out and look forward to releasing more projects on CD.

  • taylor, 12k

Chain DLK interviews Matt Rösner

We received and published this chat with Matt Rösner with a certain delay (one year and a half more or less). The ratio of this exchange of words was the release of “Snowmelt” (12k) by the end of 2021 coming from the collaboration with Seaworthy (aka Cameron Webb), who wasn’t able to reply due to lack of time, I guess. In spite of its age, this fascinating hybrid between ambient music and field recordings grabbed by these two Australian artists during the exploration of Kunama Namadgi (Mount Kosciuszko) in the Australian Alps features the conceptual framework of climate change, but the idea of dealing with this alarming topic by highlighting the beauty we’re losing sounded interesting to me. Here are the replies by Matt.

Chain D.L.K.: Hi there! How are you doing?

Matt Rösner: All is well, it’s winter here in Australia at the moment and the days are short and cool. I really dig this time of year.

Chain D.L.K.: Before focusing on your recent “Snowmelt”, let’s step back to the past. First, how did your artistic paths intersect?

Matt Rösner: I think the first time I met Cam was when I played a support slot at Seaworthy show around the time when 1897 came out. We then did an improv set at a warehouse in Sydney in 2009 and from there, our collaboration on Two Lakes and Snowmelt started.

Chain D.L.K.: Any word on your solo projects?

Matt Rösner: I had a solo record come out on room40 last year and there is a follow-up in the works, also coming on room40.

Chain D.L.K.: Speaking in general, “field recorders” have to establish a particular connection with the territory and the surrounding environment. How would you describe your way of connecting your creativity with it?

Matt Rösner: For me, it’s about being in nature as much as possible. Tuning into the surroundings and deeply observing not only the aural landscape but also the visual. When we made Snowmelt, we took a mountain of photos. At the end of a day in the field, we’d look back on the images whilst listening to the field recordings and jamming along with the minimal setup we had. The photos played a part in the creative process. 

Chain D.L.K.: Regarding the last question, do you think that being native of a place used as a sound source or translated into sound has some importance?

Matt Rösner: If you mean native as in connected to a place, then I think that is super important. The interesting thing for me is that Two Lakes and Snowmelt were recorded in places on the East Coast that I had not visited prior to the recording sessions, but by just listening I began to feel a connection between New South Wales and my home on the other side of our continent, 4000 km away in Western Australia.

Chain D.L.K.: Many years passed after your previous collaboration “Two Lakes”. How come?

Matt Rösner: We actually recorded Snowmelt in 2012, but we didn’t work on the record for a long period. Time slipped by, and we were both busy with careers and our young families. We didn’t feel the need to force the release of Snowmelt. 

Chain D.L.K.: What are the matching points between “Snowmelt” and “Two Lakes”? Any upgrade in the used equipment to grab sounds?

Matt Rösner: Our equipment was more advanced with Snowmelt, but the way in which we recorded the sound was similar for both records. On both records, we recorded from very early in the morning into the night. We go to a location, set up our microphones and record a long period of time, sitting dead still and observing our surroundings. 

Two Lakes was recorded over 3 late autumn days. For Snowmelt, we recorded in Autumn and then again in the proceeding spring to capture the difference in seasons across the unique Australian Alpine habitat. 

The way in which the tracks were arranged and mixed was different – Two Lakes was mixed and arranged by Cam and me on the South Coast, whereas Snowmelt was a loose collection of ideas that we worked on remotely, including adding overdubs. Later on, Taylor Deupree mixed and mastered at the 12k studio in New York. 

Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us some unknown story or maybe any weird events regarding the recording sessions you held on Mount Kosciuszko and its surroundings?

Matt Rösner: We were crossing Spencer Creek which was half frozen and I lost my footing and ended up with a boot full of cold freezing water. The cold seems invigorating now, but at the time I was more worried about getting dry quickly and not losing any equipment. 

Chain D.L.K.: How would you describe the process of integration of instruments/musical parts into field recordings? What do you try to render with music? 

Matt Rösner: When we recorded both Snowmelt and Two Lakes, the compositions started with the field recordings and the instrument parts followed. Sometimes we might find ourselves working the other way around, there might be a guitar part that we add field recordings to in the second stage of the composition process. I find when creating music, or any art for that matter, there aren’t hard and fast rules to give structure to the process. It’s up to the creator to know when the work is complete, what to leave in, and what to take out. Certainly, with Snowmelt, we were trying to create a space where the listener can contemplate the environment through sound and in doing so we hope they will see the fragility of these ecosystems that are under stress from Climate Change, Drought, Bushfires and Pollution.

Chain D.L.K.: “Rennix Forest” is one of my favorite moments of “Snowmelt”, in spite of its “minimality”, to say so, as it evokes the peaceful place where it was supposedly recorded. Any words on this track?

Matt Rösner: The Rennix walking trail is located on the road up to Charlotte Pass. It starts as a wide open marshland, which then moves into a woodland of Snowgums. The recordings were taken around the edges of the marshes and further up into the forest. The guitar parts were pieced together from loops and fragments of an acoustic guitar improvisation recorded in a small cabin on the edge of the National Park. 

Chain D.L.K.: I noticed that tracks in Rennix have been matched together in the tracklist, while “Spencer Creek” and “Charlotte’s Pass” have been split into different parts and put in slots that are not contiguous. What are the ordering criteria of tracks in “Snowmelt”? 

Matt Rösner: We did spend some time thinking about how to order the pieces, one criterion was to group the tracks according to Altitude, like a sonic document that captures shifts in the soundscape as we climbed up to Charlotte Pass. In the end, it kind of worked out that Rennix pieces were recorded on the Autumn trip, as there was not a lot of sound activity on the high peaks at that time. The Spencer Creek and Charlotte Pass pieces were recorded during the spring trip when there were strong winds, rushing streams, and melting ice dotted around the slopes and creek edges. 

Chain D.L.K.: Besides the instrumental part, there are many moments of “Snowmelt” that could resemble shamanic music or the ritual ones that got played in some Buddhist rites. Is there any connection with the mentioned or other spiritual movements or religious beliefs? 

Matt Rösner: There is an element of meditation in our works, a mediation with nature at its core. If we can inspire our listeners to spend more time outdoors, escape their screens and be one with their surroundings, then there is a spiritual side to our records that hopefully improves people’s well-being.

Chain D.L.K.: There’s a moment when the sound seems to get expanded in a wide open perspective that is “Saw Creek”. What’s the connection between the sound and the place?

Matt Rösner: Saw Creek is quite close to the cabin that we were staying in. We’d stop there in the car each evening to get an idea of what sounds we might be able to record during the night. There was quite a dense forest around Saw Creek that had an amazing natural reverb to it that we tried to capture. The drone undercurrent is a bowed guitar played through effects pedals and digital processing. 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever thought of doing a record of a place you already visited?

Matt Rösner: Yes, for sure. My solo work is always grounded in the location of my old house in the small coastal town I lived in for over 10 years. Even when I am not physically in the old house, its ambiance still filters through in my compositions. As far as a collaboration with Cam goes, I think we could each create something new based on our shared memories of the Australia Coastline, where we grew up, and the places we still visit now. 

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Matt Rösner: We hope to start work on a new record soon, we’ve been sending files back and forth to each other, but nothing is too concrete yet. 

Sawako: Fifteen Questions

Sawako talks Sound

“We may be able to compose in 5D. But our 4D brain can’t recognize that world.”

Name: Sawako Kato aka Sawako
Occupation: Composer, producer, sound artist 
Nationality: Japanese
Recent release: Sawako’s Stella Epoca is out via 12k.

If you enjoyed these thoughts by Sawako and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

Can you talk a bit about your interest in or fascination for sound? What were early experiences which sparked it?

When I was in high school, my bandmate had guitar effects. I started random experiments with my voice, a cassette multi-track recorder and effects. At that time, I didn’t know about the existence of sound art and experimental music at all, and I was listening to punk rock and techno music. The experiments were so fun for me, but none of my friends in high school understood the music.

At university, I encountered a computer music class and started working with sound waves in Super Collider. I was so fascinated with it, because waveforms are so cute, like tiny creatures in a petri dish. I also enjoyed experimenting with feedback and resonances of several hundred tiny sound waves with Max/MSP. My professor called the data for sound synthesis “woods and trees.” 

I felt that sound synthesis was something like a sci-fi garden to create a convoluted pomato (potato + tomato) or chimera of time and space. 

It was the time of glitch, lowercase sound and microsound (both the mailing list and the book). At the same time, I started to work at an art gallery, and the gallery manager introduced me to the works of Fluxus, Felix Hess, Steve Roden, Brandon LaBelle, Alvin Lucier and so on. 

Frequencies and sound waves are cute. I am interested in inaudible sound (for human beings) as well as wave shapes in general. The theme of my thesis for my master’s degree was a sonification & visualization of wi-fi signal data, and the thesis title is “no[w]here.”

Additionally, I was interested in artistic fieldwork with a video camera when I was a student. At that time, the CPUs of PCs were not enough to realize my ideas for using moving images. So I started artworks only with field recording sounds – without any visuals. 

I like traveling, and I thought the artworks would help me travel to many different places. I like walking around in cities and woods with recording gear. It feels like I become an invisible woman – only with ears wrapped up in the sound cocoon. 

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and working with sound?

All things in everyday life. Especially sparkles of ephemeral things.

Each story which is woven by collaborators and me on the planet.

Things which are told by sound. The world which sound shows us.

What are the sounds that you find yourself most drawn to?

Invisible. Intangible. In-betweenness. Fluid. Like a fog or smoke. Sounds that create an ambience both consciously and subconsciously. As an artistic medium, I can simultaneously use both controls and intentions and let-things-go and indeterminacy. 

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, from instruments via software tools and recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you personally, starting from your first studio/first instruments and equipment?

I am a person who can enjoy both cheap and expensive and old and new technology and equipment. All things have a unique character, so I am happy to work with them. 

However, recently I have had the chance to meet amazing engineers who can create custom-made software, speakers and hardware for me. They expand my sound world with a fresh viewpoint and give me much inspiration.

About my memory of my first studio gear, when I was a student, MOTU was the Mark of the Unicorn, with a logo of a unicorn illustration on the gear. I put a sticker of a unicorn on my gear and was thinking, “I will get the cute logo gear when I grow up.” Several years later, when I had actually grown up, MOTU’s logo had changed, without the unicorn. It was really a sad thing. So I still put stickers of unicorns on my gear. 

The possibilities of modern production tools have allowed artists to realize ever more refined or extreme sounds. Is there a sound you would personally like to create but haven’t been able to yet? 

The 0.1-second sound which embraces and condenses all emotions in the universe. If I am able to realize and to listen to the sound, maybe my mind and existence itself will collapse.

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?

Composition in 2D is pictures, 3D is sculptures, and then 4D is sound – or something with space and time. With technologies like XR/VR, we may be able to create compositions in 5D or higher dimensions. We may be able to create a 5D composition only with sound, but our 4D brain can’t recognize the world in the correct way. 

Since I was a child, I have been interested in topology, multidimensional geometry, nonhuman spatial cognition, layers and matrixes. If you are not familiar with the differences of dimensions and can’t visualize a 4D object in the 2D world, the novel Flatland is a good book to start. 

From the concept of Nada Brahma to “the Beginning was the Word,” many spiritual traditions have regarded sound as the basis of the world. Regardless of whether you are taking a scientific or spiritual angle, what is your own take on the idea of a harmony of the spheres and sound as the foundational element of existence?

From the viewpoint of sound as vibration, we can say the Big Bang was sound. Expanding outside the cognitive limit of the ears of human beings, the world is filled with various frequencies, waves and vibrations. I think many spiritual traditions and old myths express the same thing about these vibrations based on the beliefs and languages of each culture. 

For example, there is a Tibetan practice using sound, color, character, image, mudra and body posture simultaneously. Modern people think, “I need to do so many things simultaneously,” but the practitioner feels it (and become) as one vibration. 

“Scientific” things of 2022 may become “ancient spiritual” things in 3033. The reality of the world captured by the sensory organs of primordial people may be totally different from the modern human body. The possibilities are so open.

The idea of acoustic ecology has drawn a lot of attention to the question of how much we are affected by the sound surrounding us. What’s your take on this and on acoustic ecology as a movement in general?

First of all, since there are so many different viewpoints, research methods, and approaches of artists, activists, and researchers in different areas of the world, it is difficult to talk about “a movement in general.” 

On the topic of “how much are we affected by the sound surrounding us,” most people tend not to perceive the sound surrounding us very much, so when I hold a sound walk workshop, participants often say, “I was really surprised that so many birds were singing in the city. I didn’t realize it at all!” 

On the other hand, artists and engineers have sensitive ears. When I create a recorded work or a soundscape, I design it while thinking about the subconscious effects for both regular and sensitive ears.

Personally, I am interested in not only sound but also other waves and frequencies – electromagnetic waves, sunlight, infrared beams, inaudible sound (for human beings) and so on. The senses and “ears” of human beings in the future might be able to catch the frequencies which we can’t capture now.