Turkey: Johanna Sandels’ “Väsen”

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Turkey of the Month (November) AND Year (2022)!!

SANDELS: Prelude. Stugubråt. Isgång. Vulkanisk Promenad. Våg / Johanna Sandels, electronic noises & other crap / Arpaviva AV 001CS

I was afraid that I’d completely missed a Turkey of the Month for November until this gem was sent to me by email on the next-to-last day of the month. Never let it be said that there aren’t enough whack jobs out there who think that whatever noises they can fart out into a microphone isn’t great art. From the publicity blurb for this turkey:

Johanna Sandels is a quintessential multimedia artist working with sound, 2D and 3D art, and installations. The artist describes her process as translating her sculptural ideas and their physical textures into relative sonic textures. Sandels, an artist of striking originality, incorporates a visceral sense of time into both her physical and sound work. Born and raised in Lindingö, Sweden, Sandels co-founded the F4entropy collective and the Konst Kollektivet Kontakt. Sandels uses magnetic tape in her sculptures and has created a numbered edition cassette of Väsen to accompany this release.

Well, three cheers for her. If you thought Monica Pearce’s Textile Fantasies was bad—and trust me, it was—then, to quote the late Al Jolson, “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” This so-called “music” is REALLY nothing. Just reverberant, ambient sounds produced by electronic tape, the sort of noises that engineers used to use to control electronic feedback. Väsen is nothing BUT electronic feedback. You even get electronic spits and crackles in the midst of the overblown garbage that emanates from your speakers if you have the nerve to listen to this trash. It’s so bad that it makes Textile Fantasies sound like Beethoven.

And how does Sandels justify this utter rubbish? Well, let’s let her explain:

Fascinated by the force of time and the impossibility of capturing the moment between being and becoming, I collect sounds through field recordings transforming and exploring these contrasting soundscapes. I try to sculpt a hybrid form of artificial / natural sounds linked to movement and transformations, later manipulated.

For this album and accompanying cassette, I am experimenting with the idea of traversing steered by a sonic vocabulary made up of contrasting textures, a soundscape where contrasts mark and magnify a fleeting hybrid space in between.

Resonance and the effect of a collectivity is a crucial aspect of my creative process and the ’weaving together’ of textures and different languages to nourish each element. And the way each space in which it is listened to will also impact the piece.


Portrait of the Artist trying to drown herself

I would modestly suggest that the best “space” in which to listen to this stuff is in your bathroom when you’re constipated, sitting on the toilet, and trying to get it out. Even if these “soundscapes” will not unblock you, they will surely divert your attention while straining to poop because they really DO sound like shit. Indeed, the “soundscape” of the third track, Isgång, sounds in the beginning like a toilet flushing. Later on in this track, it sounds like a vacuum cleaner with a mute on so you don’t disturb those who might be sleeping when you decide to suck the dirt out of your head. The next track, Vulkanisk Promenad, sounds like the guys who empty my recycle bin in the back of their truck every two weeks. In fact, later on in this track, you can hear their voices (softly in the background) as they move the recycle bins onto and off their truck. WOW, what genius! I’m simply flabbergasted! Flabbergasted, I tell you!!

Such imagination and brilliance as Sandels exhibits on this album must surely be rewarded with more than a Turkey of the Month award. And so it shall be. I hereby declare this album Turkey of the Year. As bad as all the others were, this one (sorry for the pun) really does go off the deep end. It is, then, more than a mere Turkey. It is turkey served with rotten tomatoes and topped off with a bag of burning dog poop on your front porch.

In sum, this is just sound – without fury – signifying nothing. But hey, the Swedes think she’s a big deal!

—© 2022 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter (@Artmusiclounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)

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