By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
It's fitting that this disc, which functions as the latest issue of the 52nd City literary magazine, bristles with different styles and genres. Like most literary journals, Sound thrives off of a multiplicity of forms in an effort to capture the diversity of its creative community. While the bulk of these songs, snippets, poems and field recordings are from St. Louis artists, the disc starts off with an interview with free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman on the subject of sound, conducted by KDHX (88.1 FM) DJ Josh Weinstein. Coleman's belief that "sound doesn't have a grammar" sets the tone for the rest of the recordings: They range from the absurd and belabored (Aaron Belz's short story "Andy's Mom's Velveeta Log-Shaped Tupperware Container") to the short and sweet (Heidi Dean's acoustic-pop "Single Again"). There is no attempt at unity across these 23 recordings; instead, this disc hints at what the broad topic of sound means to the artists and writers.
For K. Curtis Lyle, it's an opportunity to perform his poem "Nut Check" with Dave Stone's skronking saxophone adding punctuation and urgency; in Tom Weber's "Feeding Yogi," an amplified recording of him feeding his cat highlights the noise of our mundane routines. Remember, though, that the CD is entitled Sound, not Songor Music. While some of this city's best-known musicians and songwriters appear here (including RFT freelancer James Weber Jr.), their tracks don't always show them working in their principal medium. The most ambitious and revealing section of Sound is Eric Hall's "The Phil Sessions," a sound collage of various musicians performing in acoustically unique spaces. Fred Friction clacks spoons and warbles in an echo-y portion of the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Jason Hutto sings and strums in chorus with a passing railroad train. The nine tracks that comprise the "Sessions" gradually reveal the ambient sounds of the city and the impressions they leave on its working musicians. Christian Schaeffer
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