Radio is not only a broadcast medium, it’s a work of art. Radio Art. I’ve loved the radio since I was a small boy. We had a handsome wooden radiogram at home, which glowed with a warm light whenever switched on, as the valves came to life. I marvelled at the names of the stations etched across the screen. BBC Light, Brussels 1, Munich, Moscow. What were these strange alien worlds available at the turn of a knob? I would spend hours listening in to languages I could never understand, strange classical music, weird folk music.
As the years passed I discovered how many artists connected to radio and used it within their works, from John Cage to Karlheinz Stockhausen, from Can to Tetsuo Kogawa. Indeed I used short wave and FM radio signals in my own recordings from the earliest times and of course my very artist name, Scanner, was born from the sounds of the airwaves.
As many of you might already know my fascination with electronic music goes way back to when I was very young, playing with tape recorders, loop pedals, radio signals, and whatever I could get my hands on to make noise. In recent years the resurgence of synthesisers in music has brought a new energy to these sonic possibilities. For those who have seen live shows of mine in the last few years will recognise that I frequently travel with a portable Eurorack Modular Synthesiser case. With this I can freely improvise and surprise myself and the audience with new shapes and sounds.
Meanwhile over in Vienna Ö1 Kunstradio has been producing shows for thirty years of the wildest and more exploratory works using radio waves as their focus. In support of this special celebration I recently created this new work completely live in the studio, without editing.
The work was composed entirely live using a Eurorack modular synth system, utilising live radio signals from the Befaker ARRadio and processing them through the system, in particular an Intellijel Rainmaker, so the simplest sources were then looped, altered and changed in a very organic fashion. When making this I had in mind the work of David Tudor and John Cage, and their use of radio signals always makes me think of Kunstradio! There was a sense of magic as this piece simply appeared in real time, with little preparation or structure.