edited by Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter, Hannes Liechti – Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World

Seismographic Sounds

Norient Books, ISBN: 978-3952449608, English, German, French, Italian, pages 504, 2016, Bern

In order to grasp the most sensitive aspects of contemporary life we must relinquish simplicity. In working to apprehend an ever-changing and interdependent global landscape, a complex but powerful beauty emerges. This book is definitely a contemporary one, introducing the reader to distinct music, sounds and videos across the world. Formally it is a catalogue investigating music production and consumption in dozens of different countries, with a “changing geography of multi-layered modernities.” The book features an intriguing selection of short texts, interviews, quotes, frames from videos (music, animation), design artefacts, and a lot of photographs (with a high percentage of elegant studio photographs). In five hundred pages there’s a lot of opinions and information. We might argue that this is consistent with a classic “smartphone experience,” with our attention jumping all over the place/the planet in a continuous flow. But even though you can start reading it almost anywhere, there’s a perceivable structure that helps the reader. The graphic design is rigorous, even with interludes of blank page spreads (pausing the flow for a moment); every text is attributed with a minimal biography; and the sections that the book is divided into are clearly consistent. Spanning dozens of countries and micro-scenes/trends, Seismographic Sounds is a condensed encyclopaedia on one side, and a fast documentary on the other, dishing up complexity in current music culture in a very enjoyable form.