unperson - Spiritual™ [Cassette]
Catalogue No.: OOH034K
Release Date: 05 May 2023
01: Spiritual™ - unperson
02: Spiritual™ (Instrumental) - unperson
03: Spiritual™ (Acappella) - unperson
►With its hypnotising collage of electroacoustic mutations, Spiritual™ sees unperson offer a long-form, experimental piece that explores the sonic worlds of corporate welness media
►Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, artwork by incepBOY. Extra-limited edition of 50 pro-dubbed cassettes housed in a clear double case + healing incense cone. Includes download code
Manifesting as a mock guided mindfulness experience, the work aims to highlight issues such as faux spiritualism, over-emphasis on competition and commercialism, critiquing the encouragement of self-sedation, self-pacification and appropriation of cultural values. Within self-help media discourses, these issues orbit around a reinforcement of the neoliberal status quo that positions stress as self-imposed. In Spiritual™ the role and employment of sound in mental health media are investigated and scrutinised. Careful spatialisation, superimposition and layering help to produce an immersive, hyperreal listening experience that highlights and satirises problematic facets of mindfulness media.
Recordings of various sound matter possessing the extrinsic sign value of modern mindfulness and relaxation; resonating bowls, bells, breaths, nature, birdsong and rain are transformed into visceral sound objects that contain the essence of their original form yet weave in and out of the reality-abstract continuum. With this, the work plays with notions of the familiar and unfamiliar. Disembodied voices lead the listener through a hypnotic maze of hyperreal sonics. Intricate, tactile sound material that echoes the modern phenomenon of ASMR merges with trance-inducing drones. Environmental field recordings combined with synthesised simulacra conjure the sensation of being situated in a liminal space. Sound is used as an abstract intrinsic force, that carries the listener out of a stable sense of reality, as well as a semiotic device that combats this drift from reality and brings the listener firmly back into the monotony of 'real' life. A grapple between grounding realism and escapism is present.
The narration navigates the listener through this struggle, the voice mirrors the post-modern sentiment of the disobeying, sentient machine. Firstly it appears familiar and human but gradually it decays and suggests an increasingly questionable rationale. The voice distorts and reveals itself to be nothing more than another instance of technology designed to control and subjugate critical thought. It is important to make clear that this work does not aim its critique at mindfulness or meditation in and of itself but towards the corporate institutions that attempt to commodify such practices, whilst stripping them of their cultural and geopolitical contexts. Sonic aspects of these practices have been hijacked, used fetishistically as distractions from the contexts of malaise and as lures towards the sustaining of a pacified, individually conscious self. This piece aims to reclaim the power of sound, not for control or manipulation but as a vehicle for eliciting critical thought, as a means of engendering communal, shared experience and, importantly, as a conveyor of parody and humour.
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