Animal Music: Team of Jeremy Roht, West Dawson, Yukon Territory Audio-CD, 50 minutes Aquarius Records, San Francisco, California: Big Bear, Dusted Magazine, Brooklyn NY:
recorded by Oswald Wiener and Helmut Schoener
Booklet, 8 pages
Linernotes (english/deutsch) by Oswald Wiener
Photos and Drawing by Ingrid Wiener
"The peculiar enjoyability of this music, which in contrast to much contemporary human music stands the test of repeated listening, forces one to the conclusion that, at least to the dogs, an abstract esthetic experience constitutes the 'figure' of their play."
"Right now I can almost hear the groans of the 60% of AQL readers that will think we are absolutely nuts in our enthusiasm for this recording. First they try to convince me to buy a cd of some damn elephants banging on trash can lids and blowing on harmonicas and now they want me to buy this? Okay, those of you who groaned can now move on to the next item on the list... Now that they're gone the remaining 40% can talk dog music. This disc is, in the simplest of terms, a recording of a Mr Jeremy Roht's sled dogs made on location in West Dawson, Yukon Territory, Canada. Like the Thai Elephant Orchestra, this project attempts to explore the possibilities of music produced by animals. Unlike the Thai Elephants the music these dogs were creating was being done regardless of human interference and, in most cases, in spite of it. When the two producers of this disc approached Mr Roht about making such a recording of his dogs, he was suspicious thinking that they were working for the plaintiffs (his neighbors) gathering evidence for a case against him. Fortunately they were just as excited about the notion of the dog music and set out capturing the dogs' spontaneous performances. What they probably didn't expect at the outset of their project was that the dogs themselves might not be so forthcoming in sharing their repertoire with outsiders. Turns out that dogs, unlike elephants, are generally quite shy about bursting out into song around humans. Undeterred, the cd's producers -- Oswald Wiener and Helmut Schoener -- went about devising an "Automatic Dog Music Recorder" to clandestinely capture the canine chorus anytime night and day. A photograph of the ingenious bark-activated device hanging from a birch tree appears on the back cover. Even better though is the hand drawn, exploded-view schematic of the A.D.M.R. in the accompanying booklet. The chorus of dogs definitely seems to have its lead vocalists and harmonizers and after a while one can hear the motifs of the leading parts being expressed in stretto as though in a fugue, but then also inverted and even, dare I say, in retrograde form. When we play this cd in the store people invariably chuckle at first, but many -- if they stick around long enough -- tend to agree that there's more going on here than just howling to be heard. We even got the professional advice from our friend Cowboy -- a Husky / Akita mix (and the dog of local customer Cayce who you may remember from Aquarius Video #9). When we put the disc on, Cowboy instantly perked up his ears and listened for about half a minute before chiming in with his own variation on the song's theme. I think it's important to point out that Cowboy didn't just immediately start howling, which would imply an autonomic response, but listened to the tune for a while to find the appropriate key and melodic accompaniment. It was also interesting to hear Cowboy's variation in how it differed in timbre from the pack, which had been singing together for years. Looks to me like Wiener & Schoener could put together a comparative series of recordings of dog musics from different packs around the globe."
"This is a totally haunting, but exceptionally musical record. There appear to be actual structures happening in a lot of the sections. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. Who the hell knows? It's super-hella-beautiful and engaging to listen to, though."
Animal Music: Team of Jeremy Roht, West Dawson, Yukon Territory
Audio-CD, 50 minutes
Aquarius Records, San Francisco, California:
Big Bear, Dusted Magazine, Brooklyn NY: