Static prevails

Send and Receive, Winnipeg’s annual festival of sound, is on again this week and there’s nary a hook, harmony or hand-clap to be heard. Instead, over a dozen of the world’s foremost sound artists will set about blowing out eardrums and minds with a host of experimental sonic assaults. Crys Cole, artistic director for the festival, says the festival is an important institution on the cultural landscape.

“[It’s] extremely important [ . . . ] because there is truly nothing else like it here,” Cole said. “This said, Send and Receive is unique in the national landscape as well. Sound art is a medium just beginning to be recognized globally and the fact that Winnipeg has been creating a space for artists in this field to present their work, network and share ideas for the past 11 years is extraordinary.”

Cole believes that the festival even contributes to a greater awareness of the arts amongst Winnipeggers, in general.

“Send and Receive facilitates a space for people to listen in ways that they normally would not. It’s a unique experience for the audience and greater community and the ripple effect of these types of experiences is important to the overall cultural and creative energy in a city,” Cole said.

This year’s festival features a vast array of local, national and international acts. A few note-worthy names on the five-day bill include Canadian percussionist Jeffrey Allport, Japanese improvisational voice artist Ami Yoshida and, perhaps the festival’s most widely recognized name, seminal audio experimentalist Francisco Lopez.

“We will have world-renowned Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez here for the first time,” Cole said. “His live performances are something to behold. He presents an immersive sound environment (surround sound) in complete darkness. I have had the pleasure of ‘seeing’ him play several times and it is always a mind-altering experience.”

The festival’s way left-of-centre content might seem somewhat daunting to those whose listening experience has been honed on verse-chorus-verse singalongs. But what constitutes “sound art” is as diverse as the aural experience itself. From abrasive noise freak-outs to ambient soundscapes to found sound collages, Send and Receive aims to offer something for almost anyone with ears. Moreover, it manifests the power of something that permeates us every day.

“Rarely do we take the time to listen, really listen, in our day-to-day lives. We are bombarded by sounds everywhere we are and tend to tune out much of the aural stimulation around us.” Cole observes, “With sound art I find it creates a space to tune back in [ . . . ]. It creates an opportunity to focus on listening, which I find to be very rewarding. As much as audio art is abstract, it allows for a lot of creative response, creative thinking and individual interpretation which is highly valuable to expanding individual experience.”

The year’s Send and Receive marks its 10th installment. To commemorate the occasion, a DVD compilation entitled Send and Receive: 10 years of Sound has been released in conjunction with the festival. The nifty time capsule contains over 10 hours of audio performances, painstakingly selected from Send and Receive’s archives, plus a feature-length documentary crafted by local filmmaker Caelum Vatnsdal.

“The set is an important archive for the Canadian and International sound art community overall,” Cole asserts. “As a medium that is still developing its history and defining itself, a box set like this serves as a reference tool and an important addition to the genre. There are so many incredible artists represented on this set, it’s crazy.”

Send and Receive runs from Oct. 13 to Oct. 17 at various venue around the city. For full festival programming check out