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The Sociophonic Key

by Brian Harnetty

  • Digital Album
    Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Limited Edition 7" Vinyl Single
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Limited edition of 500 numbered singles pressed on black vinyl. Covers printed by Igloo Letterpress in Worthington, Ohio. Cover illustration by Jay Pluck.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Sociophonic Key via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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When Brian Harnetty was commissioned to work with the Sun Ra/El Saturn archives in Chicago, his goal was to develop a series of conversations with Sun Ra through the many recordings in the collection. On one level, the resulting pieces combine these diverse materials to create a sonic collage. On another level, Harnetty uses these elements to reveal multi-layered stories, drawing out the many connections and complexities of the Sun Ra archives.

For this 7" single, entitled "The Sociophonic Key," Harnetty has created a stand-alone work drawn from "The Star Faced One," a 2010 sound installation at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. Despite the variety of samples used many subtle relationships are heard––both literal and fantastic––from Sun Ra rehearsing a group of children fading into an answering machine, to the intensity of a gospel preacher alongside the Arkestra’s invitation to join them in outer space.

"It is a huge, rambling collection of recordings that are only loosely held together by the presence of Sun Ra," explains Harnetty. "There are rehearsals, live concerts, lectures, TV shows, and so on. I spent most of my time listening closely, as a fan and out of curiosity, searching for correlations, links, and routes of connection." In the end, these recordings create networks of reference and dialogue that both point to the past and imagine new futures.

Brian Harnetty is a musician and artist from Ohio, and his work involves overlooked elements of sound. Many of his pieces transform found material––including ?eld recordings, transcriptions, and historic recordings––into personal sound worlds. For the past several years, this has led to a focus on projects with specific archives, including the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives in Kentucky. Mojo called his last album, Silent City, a "bewitching folk collage," and Paste described it as "an other-worldly album that demands—and deserves—undivided attention in a darkened room with some good headphones."

"The Sociophonic Key" is available as a numbered and limited edition on black 7" vinyl. The artwork was created by Jay Pluck and printed at Igloo Letterpress in Ohio.


released June 19, 2012

This project originated as an Interpretive Commission from the Creative Audio Archive at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago in 2011. The original recordings are from the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection in CAA; ESS licenses the use of the original recordings and protects their copyright. For more information and access to CAA online catalogs, please visit www.experimentalsoundstudio.org

Illustration by Jay Pluck


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Modern Music: Vinyl, Cassette and Digital

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