I, too, have returned from AWP, exhausted by the experience. I fear that I have little to report of interest beyond the social gossip that such an occasion usually affords—but in the interest of generating some comments about audio-works of the avant-garde, I am going to include the links to the works on my playlist for the panel entitled "Listen to This"—a panel originally advertised to include Kenneth Goldsmith, the proprietor of UbuWeb, but that instead has included me, serving as his avatar. I believe that my selections evoke the spirit of his website, and I encourage you to check them out….

1. Karawane by Hugo Ball (as performed by Marie Osmond)
Listen to Marie Osmond perform, from memory, a Dadaist poem for the TV-show "Ripley's Believe It or Not"—and believe it or not, her rendition of this work has become strangely canonical for any contemporary practitioner of sound-poems.
2. Rotomotor by Anton Bruhin
Listen to Anton Bruhin spend half an hour, reciting a series of German words, in which each word differs from its predecessor by only a single letter—and hence be amazed by his echoing lexicon, which seems wholly inhuman in its motorized intensity.
3. The Most Unwanted Song by Dave Soldier (on behalf of Komar & Melamid)
Listen for half an hour to a song composed by Dave Soldier in response to market surveys conducted by the artists Komar & Melamid, who have created a "popsong" that incorporates all the most despised elements in any piece of music.
4. Kenneth Goldsmith sings Jean Baudrillard
Listen to Kenneth Goldsmith (the proprietor of UbuWeb) sing, verbatim, a lengthy passage from America by Jean Baudrillard—and hence be amazed by the fact that Goldsmith can compete with the prior track for being the most "unlistenable."
5. Blaf by Jaap Blonk and Radboud Mens
Listen to Jaap Blonk collaborate with the deejay Radboud Mens in order to generate techno-tracks of dance-music, using only the buccal output of the human voice—a project that showcases the precise, robotic intensity of Blonk in performance.
6. Angel of Death by Slayer (as performed by Dokaka)
Listen to Dokaka (the Japanese beatboxer) perform a cover of a notorious heavy-metal song, recreating the sounds of every instrument, using only the sounds of his own voice—a project that sets the outer limit of athleticism for most sound-poets.

Originally Published: February 6th, 2008

Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and of Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök has created artificial...

  1. February 8, 2008
     Nick T.

    Christian, thanks for reproducing the list (and for being on the panel). The Dokaka has been haunting me since New York, partly because I am wondering simply at how the human body, the voice, can create that range of sounds, but also wondering if you might talk a little as to Dokaka's choice of song, which you briefly touched on in the panel. Why Slayer? I have my thoughts on this, but perhaps you know more about his choice?
    Also, the Osmond, which I've seen her perform on YouTube, is certainly one of the odder videos tracing around that site. How did she come to it? And why has this piece become canonical, as you say, for sound poets? Is it the vehicle, the context, the conjunction of the two?
    At any rate, a fine selection.