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Sova Labs presents Tony Andrews

This lecture of the Sova Labs series is a discussion with the seminal sonic-thinker and founder of Funktion-One sound systems, Tony Andrews. We will be covering the philosophies of sound such as: sound and spirit; deep listening; sense hierarchy– hearing as a marginalised sense, and the pursuit of sonic-fidelity to facilitate ‘a transcendental event’ – a shared altered state of consciousness that can lead to societal change, as historically demonstrated in Tony’s intrinsic influence on the UK’s 80’s rave scene and subsequent counter-culture.

 
- Hello to everyone again, and welcome to lecture two. This is the "Perception, Philosophies, and Poetics of Sound." With Sova Audio Labs, brought to you by Sova Audio Labs and myself, AboutFace. Really, really excited about this one. It's the second lecture of our series in discussion with seminal sonic thinker and founder of Funktion One, Tony Andrews. Absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Tony about some of his sonic philosophies. And we'll be talking about the transcendental event. We'll go into that in more detail later. We'll be covering philosophies of sounds, such as sound and spirit, deep listening, sense hierarchy, whether we potentially have a, hearing is a marginalized sense, and the pursuit of sonic fidelity to potentially facilitate a transcendental event. Really looking at shared altered states of consciousness, how they can be cultivated, and potentially whether there's a link to societal change. And as some music historians state is linked in with Tony's intrinsic influence, such as the turbo sound in the 80's rave movement, moving into the nineties. A little bit about Tony, for those of you who don't know, which is unlikely. Tony's an award winning, highly regarded innovator, designer, and manufacturer of, I've got in my notes says high quality, but I would say kind of landmark sound systems. He is responsible for founding two international loudspeaker companies, both Funktion One and for the sound geeks here, you will definitely know what Funktion One is and Turbo Sounds. Tony's landmark developments includes the TMS Free Turbo Sounds, the TMS Four, the flashlight and floodlight systems and the critically acclaimed Funktion One Resolution Series Evolution and Viro systems. And if you look into the, the Viro VX system online it's just mind blowing. He's also done some really groundbreaking work with base speaker technologies. Tony was an early user of ambisonic surround sound Glastonbury first of all at the experimental sound field in 1992. And Funktion One, I mean, from my personal perspective has been apart of my life since I was around 14 years old, being bundled into a car going to Lydd Airport. And there's another story that would maybe have time to get into, but really Funktion One is regarded as a seminal loudspeaker. A kind of pioneer in the best sounding night clubs, you know, such as Berghain, Output, Cielo, Space Ibiza, Octagon in South Korea. That's quite a new one, isn't it? It's relatively new.

- No it's been there awhile.

- Okay. It's new to me. And the CBD in Guangzhou, Concretes and Motion Bristol. But really in this lecture, what I believe is important is looking at Tony's ideology, ideological reasons for his innovations, his philosophies of sound and his intent behind his innovations. Not only impacting a legacy, or even an epoch of loudspeaker technologies, but also wider societal influence, which, you know, I've read a fair amount of from my personal experience would argue he has had a societal influence as well as such as his turbo sound in, in the eighties and moving through to the nineties. So I just want to give Tony a very warm welcome we're all a little bit like we're fanboys here. So, so welcome. Very excited to hear more. And we're just going to start off with one sound example and then we'll get into it..

- Can I just say thank you for all that. I've forgotten half of it myself. It's good to know I've got track record.

- Nice.

- So what was that, Tony would you like to explain what the music example was and why you selected it and what it represents to you?

- So it's Joe Smooth Promise Land.

- Is it 1997?

- I think so. Let's just say a late eighties. It sums up what I think a lot of us understood to be within the shall we say the house music of the mid, mid to mid nineties, mid eighties to mid nineties, I guess. Although he did actually kick off a bit earlier than that. See, there's a Zen about dancing there's a zen about rhythm. And so if you like it, it's a spiritual focus with, with an engine. And I think to me, that's what the rave scene represented. And I can recall many times, well, at least over a certain innocent period, shall we say where people were all together having a good time dancing the tunes were great. People were lifting up and he got to a point where, where everyone had, well, a lot of people had whistles and all the whistles would start going off and you could actually feel the whole thing lifting. Nobody, but clearly it wasn't orchestrated. It just, there were certain moments where we would just going for the sky as far as I was concerned. And so, so that track, the Promise Land is what is on the other side of that feeling that actually the whole thing's lifting up. We don't quite know where we're going, but let's hold on and see where it arrives at. And, you know, we made some progress at certain times towards that. Same thing was going on that kicked Glastonbury off.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- There was a feeling that there was something we had to almost stumble into and we'd find ourselves in a new state of consciousness.

- It's a similar thing, do you see kind of parallels between, you know, the fifties and the counterculture, which cultivated following Stan Grof' work with psychedelics and the introduction of these and Leery. and then the overall movement. And then obviously a lot of the things that happened. Was it similar or did it feel different to that? Do you have any kind of parallels between those two?

- I think I'm just going back to what I said, I think it was, shall we say a communal higher objective with an engine and that's the, that was, for me, that was a difference having gone through the sixties as well.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- It was very much in the time it was quite Grateful Dead orientated. It was about the spacing out. It's about spacing out together, but when you get the dynamic of the body and you know, the, I mean The Groove was going on. The Groove has been developing forever. I mean, first time somebody started banging a log, I guess was, you know, it's inherent to us. And a lot of my friends at the time said, well, this is this isn't, these aren't real instruments. This is electronic music. I said, so where did you draw the line on that? So it, as soon as you pick up a stick and hit a log well you're using technology of a sort. So, so is that wrong? Of course it isn't. So anything works. Go back to the very early seventies. Dub as a function of electronically manipulating tracks had already been laid down with some exceptional results I might add.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- Joe Gibbs comes to mind. So that track represents that to me because it's a recognition that there is a place to get to, we, we need to evolve out of our current condition and it's not going to be by any political dogma because we don't even know what it's called yet.

- So do you think the Promised Land is a temporal state we can achieve through these kind of shared experiences. There's not a kind of concrete concept. It's something that's there that we're continually reaching for. And we need to occupy that this.

- Seems to be cyclic periods where we get a bit closer, or should we say the spontaneity of the time, the innocence of it allows it to emerge because everybody's just dancing and that's sort of getting into a Zen condition. And then things start to, you know, the communal consciousness, maybe we'll, we'll develop a consciousness, we're all part of it. But I say, I'm trying to describe what I don't really know yet, but I just know it's a direction to walk in or even run. And that's what's been driving me 50 years.

- I think it's really clear what you're saying. And I think there's a lot of parallels with when you talk about spiritualism and linking in with that, but with the Taoists spiritual precepts, you know, the Tao is something you can't explain, you can't categorize, you can't speak of. It's something that you experience. And it's, I think there's, I think what you say resonates a lot with what I've read within that. So yeah, very powerful. I guess I want to move the conversation slightly now towards, I'm just going to put up a quote for you, which is just up here. Now this is kind of looking out from another person's perspective for looking at some of the social commentators and the quote is; "Rave culture provided a forum that allowed British youth a chance to engage with cultural debates regarding an individualism collectivism entrepreneurialism and morality in the process of exploring and contesting, these key tenets Thatcherite political dogma that held sway throughout their upbringing." I mean, it's a pretty wordy, hefty thing to unpick that. There is kind of what you're saying is it created this kind of fertile ground, these elements between the Thatcherite kind of politics, which was out there at the moment, which drove people to go and seek these communal kind of experiences. But I guess linking in with your experience, not with the kind of theoretical stuff that's read, what to you, Tony is the role of sound in facilitating shared altered states of consciousness and what could that potentially lead to in relation to societal change or to cultivate unity and solidarity? Do you think that can influence, forget about the political sphere, but in collective consciousness?

- I think he has been. For some while. I mean, big audio is quite new. We've only had it 50 years and it's been noticed by, but some of the, well, everything I said earlier, you know, that I'm not the only one who's noticed this. And as regards the, I mean the rave culture, I mean, it was just brilliant music, you know? I mean, initially they were taking the best bits of a James Brown track and duplicating it. So, I mean, it was just a full on groove. Was it, George Clinton said? free your mind and your ass follow. And so if you, if, you're on a groove, body's happy, mind starts to go places. If other people's minds are going places, then maybe it's the same place. It's, there are many layers to the material plane. I mean, it's not just the outside of half of everything that you see. It's actually composed of energy and there's so much space. It's not either, there are no particles, it's all fields. It's all fields of energy that all pile one on top of another, you get down to string. An amazing fact about size of things. So if you go, if you break an atom apart, a simple one, like a hydrogen atom, you've got a proton and an electron. And if the proton was the size of a pea and it was in Piccadilly Circus, the electron would be somewhere in Surbiton for a split second. And it would be the size of a mustard seed. So that's how much space there really is in everything. And then if you start boring into what makes a proton and you go through the quarks and bore down even further, and apparently it's vibrating strings. Well, if I've got one of the vibrating strings that makes up the parts that make the parts to make a, a single proton. Was the size of say a tree. And it I knew where you were on, you were standing on this proton and you were trying to see the electron it would actually be beyond the visible universe.

- [AboutFace] Wow.

- It's fields of vibration and there's many, many levels. And actually the, the matter itself is a fucking miracle frankly. Because it not only comes out of practically nothing. It carries on being so that we can, we can live and go through things. And time, time exists. Time is probably a function of the material plane.

- This touches very similar onto some of Henry Bergson's Mind and Matter and he.

- [Tony] Sorry, that was a long way about from the Thatcherite thing.

- Yeah, yeah.

- I mean, nobody thought bloody hell, this is all a bit straight jacket. It's time we did something. Things just happen. And house music coming out of Chicago in the early eighties and people like Jamie Principle, Frankie Knuckles. It got over here and we certainly have I a tradition of taking something that the Americans and using.

- Over here we adopted it a lot more than they did.

- Exactly. That's what I was saying. We have a tradition of doing that with their music and realizing what it is and expanding it, and then it re-exports in it that. I mean, that happened with blues in the sixties. So it's, we, there was this fantastic music to dance to, and what more freedom is there than dancing? And even better when you're dancing with other people. And you're all just enjoying the hell out of it. And that is when these sort of things can emerge. And thank God it arrived. You know, when it did. Looked at later you could say, well, yes, it was a massive antidote to materialism.

- It was a requirement almost at that time. But I think the facture is a dogma and all of the kind of things that Thatcher brought in at that time, punitive and...

- Free Market.

- Free market mentality. All of the different criminal justice acts, were all a response to the rave movement. It was almost, you know, the rave movement happens because it needed to happen. And then the conservative government were continually trying to respond to that, to limit it happening. So in that case, the rave movement, you know, changed the political landscape in some way. You could say. But I guess kind of linking in with that. I know turbo sound was really important. I mentioned at the start about my first experience at a rave when I was 14 years old at Lydd Airport. I believe it was on, remember the, remember the 5th of November, that's how I remember the dates. Being bundled in and snuck into this rave. And then seeing on flyers subsequently, they were actually using turbo sounds as a promotion tool. So, which was quite interesting.

- And it was for us too.

- Did you have any knowledge that they were doing that?

- Yeah, yeah, yeah we did. In fact we added it up one day and there wasn't that much equipment in the country. The hundreds of thousands of watts. West marketing for you, isn't it? Exaggeration and half truth. No, we were pleased because it was what we made it for.

- Yeah. It was part of a Trident know that people like Bill Brewster state was an interactivity or caused a dialogical relationship between the quality of sound, the loudness of sound, the people, the music and the drugs all together in that moment. And what he says here is it cultivated, along with the punitive nature of Thatcher coming in, of this kind of fertile breeding ground for a counter cultural movement. And there's a couple of things here. He states about the disenfranchised youth, rejection of individual freedoms. There's the Section 28 of the local government act, which meant that no school in the country could openly promote homosexuality. And the rave movement kind of become a political movement and a threat to Thatcher's conservatism. Who was continually then kind of reacting to. And then obviously into the nineties in 1994 famously Section 63 of the Criminal Justice Act, which give police powers to shut down events characterized by the emission of succession of repetitive beats, which is pretty crazy. I just want to ask you a question in relation to that, because know, I'm really intrigued to hear your opinion. But can you see any societal similarities now at this current time in relation to the eighties and nineties, moving into the mid nineties in relation to our present day restriction on public liberties. In relation to our present day removal of the rights of protests, removal of being together in, in these kinds of spaces and then austerity led government. Driving more in-work poverty. Do you think 2021, 22 could again be a fertile breeding ground for an increase in these kinds of raves? Which they have been happening. I don't know whether, you know. But there, and it's not obviously in same way, but there's been a massive rise in free party happening again. Do you see any kind of link between now and what was going on in the late 80s?

- Yeah, well, I mean, you know, we, we want to get together and dance together. To good sound. We like base. We like big fat base. It, I mean, it's, you know, it's the same human need to, to get together and dance together. I mean, we've been doing it for eons. It's absolutely right. And the suppression of that, nevermind the, well, I mean, it's all the, you know, remove of the right to protest. It's just outrageous, but where else would you expect from a paranoid viewpoint on life, which is, you know, the politics of selfishness for God's sake. And look where it's got us. Cause I'm afraid it's a complete failure, the whole thing in that regard. And so, you know, and as things start failing and people start realizing that things are, you know, there's an alternative way of looking at life. There so laws will come in to try and suppress any, any thought outside the, the normal stuff. But to take away the right to protest to me, it's just outrageous. But I mean, if you, if you, well, I mean, you know, these, these, these people are mendacious and probably a lot of them are are sociopaths as well.

- Yeah I think that would be more than fair comment.

- So I don't know why we keep putting them in power, but there it is.

- I think the, when you,

- Anyway, that's not what we're about here.

- No, no, no, but it's really good to get your opinion on that. I mean, we're only touching on that in this, this little bit anyway. I think there's more valuable stuff we can chat about, but it was just a really interesting parallel between the two times when I was very young, the first time around, but now, I mean, and being involved in the scene quite heavily, I've definitely kind of noticed these and I'm looking forward to raving more in the future and seeing how that kind of progresses over the next three months.

- I mean, as far as that goes, a change, shall we say a difference between the late eighties was everybody, everybody was in any clothes they felt comfortable in and just going balls out to dance. A lot of what I see these days everybody's on their phone.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- They're not being here now. And that is an essential part of the story if you're going to get anywhere.

- Yeah. Cause we speak a little bit about deep listening later on, and that's an interesting parallel of what we're going to talk about actually about engaging with something on a deeper level, rather than a, this kind cult technology cultivated, lack of attention, or lack of experiencing things on a, on a deeper level like audibly, and philosophically. But I want you to bring the term, the Transcendental Event. Cause I watched and read a lot about you in preparation for this. And I love this concept, this term that you use the Transcendental Event. And could you just explain about that and how you think it can be cultivated and whether you think it's happened?

- Well. I mean that particular phrase actually comes from Terence McKenna who used to speak of the transcendental event at the end of time.

- [AboutFace] Was that the stoned ape theory all around the same time.

- Could be.

- [AboutFace] We can go into that later.

- He's quite hard to listen to Terrance. But I mean man, you know, he's a great thinker and an explorer. But once.

- [AboutFace] I guess what's your context?

- How do you, how did I get there? Well, I mean, you know, we used to, we used to sit around listening to music together and, and it was something, it was something he did. And you know, you felt that there was, you felt that you were in touch with everybody. So, and you know, this was, I mean they used to call people who had some space. He used to call them heads here.

- [AboutFace] Yeah. I've still used now in house music, all the heads will know for example.

- Okay, good.

- [AboutFace] That's kind of used now as a term.

- And it was people who had awareness that there's more to it than just the outside of half of everything that there's energy flowing through everything and we're all part and parcel of the same thing. And you know, I mean we are of the creator and when you realize that it's very important to remember that so is everybody else. And it's just where, what state, so we're individuated aspects of the creator with amnesia and it's a game that we all engage in to give each other experiences of one sort or another. Let's try and make them nice. As my wife's often saying to me, be kind. And I think that's probably a damn good message. All the great people who've come here to try and should we say, wake us up a bit. They've all been saying that one way or another.

- [AboutFace] Yeah, absolutely.

- So.

- No, that's, that's, that's great. I mean, just moving away I guess from the, the transcendent or the transcendental event.

- Moving away from that. So it's, it's possible that if the conditions are right.

- How do we get there Tony?

- How do we get there? Well. Just take the first Glastonbury in 1971, when Michael Leavis would, did have a festival in 1970, but the, it was the London underground. It was involved with the, with the 71. And it was genuinely because people thought, well, we got to come together in a field somewhere, enjoy our music. And maybe something really deeply spiritual could occur. And not much has changed since that. That concept. Sound systems are nothing like they are now at that point, but that. How do we get there? I think, I think there needs to be an awareness of it. I mean, you know, it's so undefinable that, that, I mean for a very long time, I've not even spoken about the deeper motivation and, but I just, somehow it's different now. I think, think we do need to know that this is a possibility because how much more time have we got left in this particular ballpark? I mean the writing is well on the wall at the moment.

- [AboutFace] 40 years now, before climate breakdown. Yeah.

- Blimey could be the next 10.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- It could be just around the corner. We don't know, but there's, you know, we only need all the methanes to come out of the sea. It's already coming out of the permafrost.

- Three degrees we have, once we hit three degrees, then the algae, which provides a lot of the oxygen that we breathe, it absorbs most of the carbon as much as the rainforest. So we're very close to that. And I think, yeah, we definitely need.

- If we're going to continue as a species we have to take our evolution into our own hands. And I think communally, enjoying each other is all we, all we have to do, there's no angles, get the, get the selfishness out of it. That's really probably the only sin in the, in the universe, you know, and I'm just touching on politics for a second. Capitalism is the politics of selfishness.

- [AboutFace] Yeah.

- It's about we better hold onto this because those people over there are going to come and take it. Or let's see how we can exploit these people who, who are not, who are exploitable. Where's the common good? Those, those that understand should, should make sure that those, that don't get a fair chance doesn't seem to happen. Is this the law of nature? I mean how do you justify the capitalist thing?

- Well, only those with, I guess, could justify those most benefited from it, but with regards to capitalism and exponential profits and living in post industrialism and consumption are all, you know, the main factors of anthropogenic climate change, ultimately. So I guess you could say that the answer to that is it's the same people coming together and changing that ideology as opposed to, you know, trying to make people act in a certain way to reduce their carbon footprint, for example. But yeah, I mean, I think there's just, yeah.

- [Tony] How do we get there?

- I guess, I guess moving it towards this transcendental event with regards to sound. Because I do believe there's a role of sound fidelity and having an impact on someone's experience of music. But I mean, what I want to ask you is what is fidelity's relationship to cultivate a transcendental event and what is sound fidelity at all stages of the chain and how does that all impact?

- Okay, well, I guess fidelity is important and by fidelity, it means adhering to the truth. When a sound is pure, you can really open your mind to it. You can really accept it. It can become part of you, you can become part of it. When it's, I mean, cause I see sound quite often and when it's covered in jagged distortion, you don't want to go anywhere near it. Nobody wants to jump into a briar patch or you know, but a nice inviting sea on a very hot day, different matter altogether. So distortion is like that in, in my mind and it is a vexation to the spirit. I know that's something I've said, but it hurts. It shuts you down. My long suffering wife will tell you that there have been many times I've gone into a club and, and, and I'm just, God, I have got to get out of here. Cause this is a, this is a, this is so grievous. I can't, I can't, I can't stay in.

- That's common with synesthesia because I'm a synesthete as well, but I kind of hear colors and see colors and hear sounds and it's textures. But it's interesting. Cause a lot of the studies with synesthesia show that they have more of an emotional response to certain frequencies or sounds, and also they're all diversities. So the levels of hearing are much higher and much more sensitive and that kind of justifies the field that you're working in. But so you previously used to be, you mentioned there is links in quite well that you stated distortion could be thought of the twisting of truth or sonic lies. I just wanted to mention that because thought that's an amazing, amazing quote. But what is the sonic truth to you? I tell you what,

- I've...

- Sorry.

- Go on.

- I'll tell you what we'll do, slight change. I'll get you to answer that after we're gonna listen to something, cause we're just going to play a, a music selection, which you selected, represents the sonic truth for you. I think that will be, if you're happy with that?

- [Tony] I'm fine with that. Thank you.

- So much dynamic range. I mean you're not used to it. Gentle plucking that guitar, yeah. It's very powerful for me. So yeah. Coming back to that original question before the slide then I guess, would you like to just announce what the song was and how

- it relates to sonic truth

- Yeah.

- It's Temptation by Diana Kraut and it's something I use when I'm really critically listening.

- It's like a reference track for a sound system or?

- Yeah. Yeah. I mean I do, I do do my development by listening, mostly listening to music. We're guided by technology, but in the end it's going to be a human that's listening to this. And over the years I've learned to trust that what I feel is okay. A lot of other people will probably agree. So that's, so that's a nice...

- [AboutFace] Understatement.

- It's good to know. But you've got in that track, you've got a whole bunch of things that are actually really helpful when you're trying to do that. Firstly, the recording's brilliant. It's a female voice, which is actually quite often harder than a male voice and she's very emotionally engaging. So there's a feeling you get when you're, when you're, when you're listening, which if I don't get it, I know something isn't quite right, because it's definitely there in the recording. You notice the brushes and the transient, the edges on those. I mean, they're perfect. They're really crisp. And in fact I mentioned brushes cause it's, it's a, it's a drum kit, you know, it's guitars, upright bass. It's things we're all used to. That we know the sound of anyway.

- [AboutFace] You could hear the tension on the pick of the guitar.

- Yeah.

- You can know how thick that pick is because the range is so good. So.

- There's a lot of detail in yeah. And I mean, I've followed a voice, but it's just, you know, everything she's expressing in the song is hearable. So, so I, I use it. I'll use it anywhere. When I'm choosing the system, when I'm in the workshop in the lab and listening to things. Trying to take that next step, which I'm pleased to say is still happening. So that's what that track's for. It's completely natural. And I do believe it represents if you like, a recorded sonic truth.

- Yeah. I think it demonstrates in the actual music really clearly as well, so.

- Yeah. And, and there's a dummy, there's other fondly recorded tracks, but I I'd say to anybody, who's interested, you need to be able to emotionally engage with the music. It's not something over there. It's something that, can you let this become part of you? Do you want to be in, do you want to be in?

- Enveloped by the physics of it.

- Exactly. And that's why distortion is such a problem because it's, you don't want to get involved. And sensationalism and brute force and ignorance is not the way forward.

- So what would be your comment on likes, for example, the Japanese noise scene, Merzbow these kinds of people. Do you have just such a physical reaction? I mean, to them, I guess that distortion is used is almost weaponized in a way. But what's your opinion on those sort of, I mean, obviously the use of distortion for harmonics on a guitar is very different from the use of noise.

- I'm like, I'm a big fan of Jimmy Hendrix for instance. Yeah. So.

- The controlled use of harmonics as opposed to full on.

- Yeah. On an instrument specifically to do that. As a, you know, as a blanket, a death over the whole, over the whole track. No.

- I'm with you, I'm with I'm with you on that. I'm with you on that one. But I'm of, I guess, linked in with that I want to kind of bring in this concept of sense hierarchy. There's some more, if you Google sense hierarchy, there's a little bit of writing on this, it's fairly new. But I mean, from your experience, not from the world of academic stuff, do you believe there's a societal sense hierarchy? And do you think maybe our sense of hearing is marginalized or still marginalized?

- Absolutely. No doubt about that at all. I mean it starts when you're young in the classroom. You know, where's the consideration for any acoustic treatment? And, you know, if I mention acoustic treatment, the saline is one of the most important things. So we, we evolved without, we don't have teeth and claws. It's probably half the reason we stood upright. So we could be aware of stuff coming. But half the time it's dark. And maybe even when it's light you're, you're in tall grass or you're in, you're in a jungle. So hearing's everything. It also happens to be 360 degrees. Is this the moment to talk about the fantasticness of human hearing?

- [AboutFace] Yeah. Yeah. That'd be good.

- It is. A good friend of mine, Peter Lennox at Darby University. We have a shared interest in ambisonics. Told me about an experiment they'd done with some students whereby somebody was blind folded and put in, in the middle of a circle. And there had a source, a sound source, which, you know, small speaker, which they could move. For nearly everybody could sense when something had moved one or two degrees.

- [AboutFace] Wow.

- Is all you need. And when you think that at least on paper, the way we're appreciating in that movement is the, the inter oral arrival time. The difference between hitting and this year on that year. And I guess the weird shapes of it, cause nature wouldn't do that if there wasn't a reason. Had to do with being able to pickup things above as well.

- And just to clarify ambisonic and correct me, if I'm wrong, is height perception as well.

- It can be okay. It can be. And it was, that was, that was Michael Gerson. And it was actually done in the seventies. Okay. And surround sound is nothing new. The big obstacle generally with surround sound is the speed of sound is very, very slow, but anyway, getting back to it. So we, we really developed, shall we say our vector, a location of where a sound was. Because, well, whenever you hear a sound, you instantly pretty much know where it came from and that isn't magic. There is a process. And to do it to the degree we can do it it uses an awful lot of brain power. So the anyway, doing the trigger, trigonometry, doing the sums, it seems that we're able to discern separate events in audio, down to about 15, 18 microseconds. We're not talking milliseconds, we're talking microseconds. Which you could do some more sums is about 2000 times the speed, you know, shall we say speed of perception. With the visual sense. Because if you go faster than 28 or 30 frames per second, you don't see the joy. It becomes a continuum. To do that with audio, you got to go 2000 times quicker. You've gotta be below 15 microseconds for the, for the brain not to measure it. So that's a huge amount of processing. And, and this explains why, when you're in your typical minimalist, I don't know, wine bar with highly reflective surfaces everywhere.

- [AboutFace] Marble glass, everywhere.

- And within a matter of minutes, I mean, for me, I can't even go in there in the first place, particularly, but I've actually said to people, if we're gonna have a meeting, we're gonna have to go outside because this is, this is absurd in here. It's just way, because it's survival, we're forced to process it. Therefore it, tires you out because we didn't develop in hard wood rectangular boxes. Most of the time we're outside where it's free. And I love sound outside because there's nothing, nothing sending it back to you. Because reflections, smear, smear the, the story, so there's secondary arrivals. Shall we say. Well when your hearing is that sensitive and it is for everybody, you, I mean, it's going to drive you mad and it does. It's very wearing because you, you keep having to try and workout what the hell is all this stuff is. And I think it's a very big cause of, of even more stress. It's all part of the stress of modern life. And getting back to where I, where I started at school, where it's really important that everybody's focused and, and on, on what the teaching needs.

- [AboutFace] It's distracting all these reflections.

- Well, it makes things unintelligible.

- Because the voice can't be heard clearly, and not only that, but you're having these...

- You lose interest.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they're just putting up a slide.

- So it is marginalized. And it's, and it's absolutely wrong because we, it gives you a sense of place. You know, you could walk, you can be in a reflective building, you bet your eyes shot and you walk outside and just the whole ambiance changes. So it's actually criminal. How, how badly respected our sense of audio is.

- I've passed out twice in two venues because I suffer from claustrophobia when I'm in enclosed place, it's linked in with triggers from my autism. So I've had two experiences where it's been a flashing lights, very noisy music, what you said before, you know, so not necessarily whole harmonic content in the harmonic series and not being able to move from that space and I've collapsed twice. So I could certainly totally relate with that, but just to put up a Tony's quote, which is a brilliant one, there. Bad sound is a vexation to the spirit. Which I thought is, you know, really clear and leads us into the next section.

- But your point was, why is fidelity important?

- [AboutFace] Yes.

- I hope now that we've covered why that is important. What we haven't mentioned is the arrival of digital in the nineties, which was absolutely terrible when it started. Just the worst stuff ever, it's only in the last few years with the arrival of Dante, you know, and I'm not on anybody's side with anything, I'm about good audio, that we've begun to get what, what digital was supposed to be doing. But I mean the height of analog in the late eighties, there's some bloody good albums from that time. And it's taken us a long time to get out of, emerge from just the digital nonsense has been going on for.

- The abuse of the formats liking. I mean you have control of the loudspeaker and set up and all the processes DJing, but when you've got someone that's coming in and playing music or presenting it and not using the full capability of digital formats is, I mean, it must be really frustrating for you and what you do.

- Totally.

- Especially in those clubs that I've mentioned.

- I'm not a patient man, but I've had to learn some. That's for sure. But it's, I mean, digitals getting all right now and it's marvelous what we can do with it. But, you know, Gurdjieff said something interesting. Knowledge is like money. You can lose it. And I felt, I did genuinely feel that the peak of analog was the late 80s and we'd been through a very, very bad period for maybe twenty-five years. Where it's on stage so it must be great. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's not great at all. It's actually really, really wrong. And it's a lot to do with clocks, take the AAS standard that everybody, you know, this is what everybody uses. We avoid it like the plague. I mean, I know in isolated cases it's been known to work okay. It's big problem is it sends the timing information along with the packets of audio. And that's not the way to do it. Thank God Dante's got us out of that one. Now everybody needs to pull their socks up when using the right chips and getting it right. We need to come back from, well, I would say was a digital disaster almost. And it's just, it's the same old thing. Everybody thinks digital is the new trendy thing. It must be great. It's not always true.

- But there's a massive revival back to vinyl and...

- Thank God it's always some awkward buggers who won't let go of it.

- Yeah I mean, all my collections vinyl. I mean, there is a, you know, there's, there's a, there's a different discussion to have outside of this with regards to, you know, viability environment or, and all the rest of it. But ultimately when you move, if you take this in the context of a nightclub, say Berghain, when they originally go from playing a record and the fidelity related to the music on the record, as opposed to move into CDJs and people were playing MP3s, it's just mind blowing the difference in technical fidelity between those two things. And it's literally like, it's a huge jump, isn't it?

- Certainly and the bigger the sound system, the more, yeah. It's like, you could take a picture, you blow it up, you can start to see all the pixels. So actually when the sound system's bigger, things have to be better.

- The DJ's out there, make sure you're downloading your IF's and your webs. 24 beats, the max, the CDJs go to right now isn't it? On sample rate?

- Yeah. I mean, if you want to put some numbers there, I mean 48, 48 is not bad. 96 better. If you got up to 192, then I don't know if there's that much mileage in it in terms of the, the, if you like the amount of information that you have to sling around when you, when you're at that resolution. So a reasonable compromise is say 96 at 24 bit. And you, you know, you can't hear the, the AC or the joy.

- [AboutFace] Doesn't sound like it's in a washing machine.

- When you get speakers where you can actually hear a CD zay genus the very top, then you know, you've got good speakers.

- And these speakers sounded pretty good earlier.

- Can I just link in with this fixation with a spirit quickly? Is there a correlation, do you think between sonic and spiritual dissonance? How we raise our sonic consciousness?

- Quest for the truth. Judge things on a human voice, one, you know. So especially if you've got, you know, like a friend, you know what they sound like, record it, put it through the system. Does it come back and still sound like your friend? I mean, every good sound engineer needs their reference tracks. Cause you need that emotional engagement and you need to know it's really, really good. And also look for transient. Cause that's a very interesting thing, transient, it's the first thing that, you know, I mean spent like a sharp knife. It's very easy to make it blunt. And with, with, with audio, if you've got intact stages, you, you get the excitement and, and in nature, lack of transient, smearing, and intactness of it it means that sound must be near you. And if you want it something involving or to be, feel close, that's what you do. You make sure that your transients are really intact because it's the first thing to suffer a distance. High frequencies, as we know, we've got a fraction of the energy of, of base frequencies. So I mean, why not? I mean, just a couple of basics about audio. In light we've got one rainbow. That's it, we've got the rainbow. That's what we see the electro..

- [AboutFace] Electromagnetic spectrum.

- Thank you, electromagnetic spectrum. With audio, we have 10 of those. So based on the, the ability to vector locate.

- [AboutFace] In octaves?

- Yeah. So we got 10 octaves compared with one rainbow at 2000 times the resolution. And now tell me that it's not a very, very important sense.

- So that's an MS 101 in a grand piano. If you're looking at number of keys, cause that's two octaves, isn't it?

- So getting back to the size thing again, good base frequencies, probably about 10, 12 meters.

- Yeah.

- High frequencies where you're down to probably half a centimeter or a centimeter. So there's orders of magnitude, differences. You'd expect when you're traversing 10 octaves. So that's another reason why it shouldn't be a marginalized sense and all that. And I mean, somebody told me once we do three years architecture on an afternoon thinking about acoustics. You know what I mean, that says it. That might be changing. It bloody needs to. But that's yeah, that is marginalized.

- I think it's in that case and some of they have moved it they've moved it along slightly, but it's still, I think definitely marginalized.

- And, and, and it's the feeling, you know, the ambiance of a place is, is the feeling. The difference between the pizza place, where they want a big turnover and it's noisy, someone puts a fork down, everybody, the whole room hears it. Or you went somewhere classy where they got carpet on the floor, curtains, you know, it's quite different and you can speak more eloquently. You can, you can speak with much more nuance when it, when you're in a, in a, a cacophony of reflection. It doesn't matter how you speak really because it's just a noise within a bunch of other noises. So I think the message is for stillness. And when you meditate, I don't know about anybody else, but I know that if I, if I just focus on nothing, what I tend to do is listen. And I feel this sphere of listening, going out and out and out. That's been one of the things of lockdown how quiet it's been. You find your mind stretching out until you find something. And then when it's already noisy in the, you know, average urban life, you're crushed back into your head, which isn't where your mind is. Your brains in there, but your minds out here and that's, so when you, when you meditate in a silent place, that's where you're going.

- Well this brings us nicely into the next section. And I just wanted to kind of speak about with regards to the human listening and acoustic ecology. So I was just wanting to ask you about with regards to human sound, is it important in a loud speaker to, to have a natural representation of sound or like Nicholas Bourriaud sates in Relational Aesthetics, have humans evolved to require some spectacular, rigorous recommendation to have a meaningful impact? I mean, I know we talked last time about shield and objects, sound object placement, and about how sensationalizing through films and media and things like that have maybe shifted the perception of sound into the spectacular realm. It'd be interesting to ask you that question.

- Yeah it is a very interesting question. Well, we certainly, I mean, we don't evolve. We're not that different. I mean, no one's given up on breathing yet. I mean, we've been doing that a long time, for instance. So it's more conditioning. Have we been conditioned to expect spectacular? Possibly. People quite often think that audio is about how much EQ you can use. I don't really know why. My experience says that actually what you want is even. Just like, we look around the room. If, if for instance green was overemphasized or, or in the end, you get, you get fed up with it, with everything, you know. Any one of the spectrum colors was overemphasized. Now what you want is that as, as all of nature only works when it's balanced and, and so sound needs to be even. When you, when you're young and starting, we used the, I don't know because it's all changed in 50 years dramatically, but it used to be a loudness button on, on Hi-Fi stuff. And everybody would press that because it's more bass, more treble. Fine. When, you know, if you're at the limits of things, you wanna, you want to know what the edges are. But in the end that doesn't work because you do need the mid range. You need the, you need voices, you need all those percussive instruments that not quite base, but they're certainly not treble. And you know, so much of what I hear out there is dodgy base and shrieking two to five K.

- [AboutFace] Overloaded.

- And all the rest of it is being ignored. It's like you're playing with three or four colors rather than a whole spectrum. It's so sensationalizing in sound, you can do it. You can, you can. They used to have a thing called an oral exciter. How nice is that?

- There's a few plugins that you can.

- But in the end, most of these things just get annoying because everything's got this same color on it. And, and, and really truth is, is pretty transparent.

- [AboutFace] The truth is simplicity.

- It is, it's simplicity, it's simplicity, transparency, and probably a load of other good adverbs, we can.

- You're making this really easy for me, cause that comes really beautifully as a segue into this next section, I know we're over slightly. But we are such a unique opportunity to have Tony. I hope you stick with us, but so the next sound example, we just want you to play. And if you can use some high quality headphones to listen to this. So just to let you know what that recording was, it's a recording in the Wampis Territory in Guayaquil which is about, near the border of Ecuador in the Amazon Rain Forest. And it was taken in my own project called Los Bosquesinos. Where I had developing ongoing art and music projects with an indigenous tribe. And we are exploring co-research and the elimination of roles in research. So no research researchee, more of a collaborative democratic system of ethnography. So if you want to jump online and have a look at my website, my post-graduate thesis is on there. If you want to read a bit more about that. But as Tony's quickly nipped off, I just want you to kind of go into a little bit of research about this, but in undisturbed parts of the Amazon Rain Forest animals develop niche calls that reside in isolated frequency range. So as Tony was explaining earlier, and he only is instinctual, informed instinctual comment about harmony in nature, and the natural sounds. A research that's done by Bernie Krause. I highly recommend that you have a read of some of his books, especially his Nature Orchestra. He found that in undisturbed parts of the rainforest, like you heard that recording, is it's the one piece of never allowed any artists or outside our researcher to allow, spend time with them before I was the first. So that was an undisturbed part of the rain forest and what Bernie Krause says, he calls it the biophony and the biophony is the collective sound scape or the acoustic ecology, to coin another phrase by Murray Schafer, is the collective sound produced by all living organisms. So the natural ecology. He also categorizes geophony, natural sounds from the environment that aren't coming from a living animal, the Wampis believe plants are living, that's a whole other conversation. But he also speaks about the anthrophony, if I can get it out. Human sounds. They're often chaotic and not in harmony with the biophony. So what he found across all these range of species is they're occupying their unique frequency range. But not only that, they're linked.

- [Tony] A unique layer.

- Yeah a unique.

- In the spectrum.

- In the spectrum, but not only that, they're also resonant frequencies that are harmonious. So they're not very dissonant sounds as well. So there is a, almost like he calls it the, the nature nature's orchestra, it's like having a complete orchestra. And then when you put humans in that is just disrupting the whole, the whole thing.

- Of course.

- So it'll be interesting to kind of come to you on that because you did. I mean, you linked that really, really, really well. But does evolutionary nature and physics inform evolution of loudspeaker design? When you come on in, this is a lot of this is instinctual. It's almost intuitive for you. It's coming from a pre-cognition. I get that impression. Obviously you're highly educated in these fields as well, but does this kind of evolutionary nature, does it inform your loudspeaker design and evolutions in any way? When you look at the isolated frequency ranges of the animals, for example, does that influence when you're developing loudspeaker technology? Or was it just in harmony with that concept?

- I think it is just it's in harmony with that concept. I mean, I think quite recently they found what, was the first bone flute that was 30,000 years old at least.

- Was that in, whereabouts was that?

- I bet in Africa. But there's something about the diatonic scale that was already starting to appear in this instrument. So there is, well, there is within us, all these things are, I mean, we're built of. It's just our little tiny egos that kind of convinced us about nonsense really. I'm having a brain faint. No, but this is an important point. So their diatonic scale, it's a natural progression. And nature.

- Diatonic scale, their frequencies are doubled aren't they? So there is a link, there is kind of like a mathematical harmony as well as.

- What's really interesting about it though, is it's not completely linear is it? Two places where I think there's a flat missing or, or something, this is why things turn into their opposite.

- So we have a tempered scale and in Asia they have an untempered scale because it is an equal everything isn't equal temperament in the music.

- No.

- But we've obviously adopted that. I mean, that's maybe outside of this a little bit, but it's linked in with it.

- But they, their sense of what's harmonic, what isn't is intrinsic. . And I mean, when I, when I'm evolving, if you like, a base speaker, I'm going for what makes me physically feel the best. And I suppose that ties in, actually. I'm just listening to what my body's telling me, because he hasn't got any axe to grind in any particular way. It wants to feel as nice as possible. And, and I get that feeling from base. So I tune for a good feeling. I mean, we'll measure it, make sure it's not going completely out of order, but generally speaking, that's what.

- That's so interesting because of when you look at you interlinked that with the spiritual perspective, when you look at meditation and Nirvana and things like that, they're all about accepting things, accepting the breath and letting it kind of envelop you. And it seems like you kind of almost use that as a way to develop speaker design because you're, you're, you're accepting and in something, and then you're interpreting you're feeling.

- Yeah. Well, and the audio molecules are being vibrated and the cells.

- You've trained your cells in that feeling.

- Yeah, when it, when it, when it's right, it's definitely knowable.

- Can I just point everybody just to have a quick look at the slides here. This is just to wrap this section up, but Bernie Krause says that when you record an unhealthy ecosystem or what he calls a biome one that has been slashed and burned, for example, the voices tend to be faint and chaotic like an untuned orchestra without a conductor or score. So the, some of my own research that I'm doing next year looks at FFT analysis and sound localization to find out the illegal mining happened in, in the, in the rainforest. And so when you cut down sections of the rainforest, the acoustic ecology changes so much that you can locate that, that part. So there's all sorts of problems with Europeans coming in for mercury on the ground to get also to get gold. So I'm currently working with the Wampis in sort of portable technologies to help detect that cause it's affecting child's development and stuff like that. But again, more information is on my website, if you want to read about that. I'm a little bit conscious of time. I'm just going to skip forward to this final bit. Cause I think it's really important about all states of consciousness, which we've been talking and deep listening, you know, in order to really have this altered state of consciousness with sound or to have this experience like Tony's having in some respects when he's doing his speaker development, it's, it's, it's a focused kind of accepting and listening. I just want to have a quick chat about Pauline Oliveros, which the quote up here talks about deep listening is a practice intended to heighten expand consciousness in sound, in as many dimensions of awareness and attentional dynamics as humanly possible. And then she says, deep listening comes from noticing while listening or listening to my listening and discerning the effects on my bodymind continuum from listening to others, to art and life. But she just to kind of skim over this, she states that there's two ways of listening, focal attention, clear, detailed to an object of attention. So that would be, for example, in the piece of music before you would pick out the guitar like I did, I guess, because I'm a guitarist. Global attention is diffuse and that's when you know, Tony speaks about this open feeling is letting everything in, but what's important is the space time continuum. So not only the sound listening to, you know, the piece as a whole, but the space in between the piece and yourself. And I guess the analogy I'd use is looking at a painting up close, taking 10 steps back, looking at the painting, but then the space in between the painting. And it might sound a bit abstract, but that's really what Pauline Oliveros is speaking about when the space time continuum. So then she speaks about these four sensations. When you listen, deeply feeling which Tony talked about. Sensation, that's that body sensation. Thinking is one part of it, which, you know, there is some debate within that, but intuition, and I think I'm definitely agreeing with Tony about this pre-cognition experience the sound in a deep way, as opposed to overly thinking. The thinking is a kind of stage, which you would maybe explore more after you listen to it. When you write in a journal, a sound journal, which we'll get you to do, but this again, we'll, we'll provide these slides a little bit later on. If you want to read a bit more about this. But just to finish really, I want you to do a very quick, deep listening experience. We'll do a very quick short, closed eyes breathing exercise. And then when you're listening, we want you to look, you know, focally or go globally if you want. Consider these following statements. Are you aware of any direct sensations sustain sensations in your body when you listen to music? Are you engaged in a daydream when you listen to a music? So are you intuitions present you with an imaginary situations or dreams? Are you aware of any feelings as you listened? Feelings develop over time as opposed to emotions, which are immediate reactions. The thinking part, we'll just look at that after. Cause we want to follow more Tony's perspective on this, about, you know, more of a feeling and intuition. But after the piece ends, I just want you to write down one sentence. It's not for us, it's just for you. So you don't need to be shy about it because when you listen deeply and then reflect upon that it can really harbor some powerful feelings and allow you to connect with it on a deeper level. But so for this part, if you can please put on your best quality headphones and short close eyes for a pre deep preparation to listen to a piece of music that Tony selected, especially for this, please keep your eyes closed. And what I want you to do now is if you can close your eyes, have your headphones on. So legs on the floor. Your palms are resting gently on your thighs. I want you to inhale for your nose for the count of six, take a deep breath. One, two, three, four, five, six. Hold for the count of four, one, two, three, four. Keep your throat relaxed. Exhale gently out to the count of six. One, two, three, four, five, six. And now return to your natural breathing pattern, witnessing the breath. At he sound of the signal listen intently for the interplay of sounds in the whole space time continuum. So, wow. So just again, if you want to write a sentence down, think about your feelings, your sensation, intuition, whether you had any kind of dream like visualizations. I had a blue moon that turned to red very, very, very short period of time. I don't know what that was, but I got lost in a bit a bit of that sorry. I'm a bit distracted now, but did you want to just tell us about that piece and you know, the reasons for selecting it?

- Yeah. It's a brilliant band from the late sixties. It was very, very to the point actually.

- And it's family, it's family.

- Yeah the band, is family. And I mean, it's one of those rare albums that nearly every track is good.

- I found it quite hard to find actually, but I've been a family experiment, is it? No, I can't remember. We'll find out and let you know.

- I partly chose it because of, shall we say the political side of things that you'd introduced. I thought well I listened to the words I said, well, there it was, you know, that was back in the late sixties. You know, the politicians, the government is all a load of nonsense. Does Mr. Chairman Lao, who happened to be the Chinese ambassador at the time, is the Eastern block really straight or not? And are all the heads in Asia Minor? But the real important thing is we only wanted turn the whole world on and that's what the hippies believed. If everybody got high, then, then they'd see a better way. And, and Hey, Presto, we'd all be in Nirvana.

- Turn on, tune in and cop out, or we say.

- Dropout to tune in to our, whatever. I can't even remember now it's so long ago. But there's music is definitely the vehicle for better thinking. It's also, it can be a vehicle for worse thinking, but we don't have to go there. And that's partly why I chose that. And also I think that the, their music needs a bit of exposure. It's it's been totally forgotten. It's bang on the point. And so that's why I chose it. And if you deep, listen, you got the words. Did you, did you, by any chance do any Q on it?

- [AboutFace] No.

- Okay.

- [AboutFace] Maybe the space or had done something. It's volume as well, perception can change. But I didn't touch it as no.

- I thought the words that would be part of good for what we're doing is we only want to turn the whole world on and put the people back on the road to reality. Because we know in reality, we're in this fake, reality created by adverts. It's bloody Jackanory is like, it's it's nonsense. You don't need all this stuff. You don't need to be trying to get what you are all from over there. It's right here with you. You don't need the Kardashian's bum in your life.

- I totally, and on that note, I think it's a perfect time to end. Absolutely amazing. As insightful as I thought it would be. Tony. I've been looking forward to this for quite some time. So I thank you. Great.

- Well thank you for giving me the opportunity to, to, yeah. To just talk about stuff.

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