Human experience is weird; it’s full of wonder – and it’s also full of fear. The sounds, for me, should also evoke that.
Jad Abumrad

From reading online, electronic music as a scene seems in a nasty sort of malaise, ranging from existential angst over everything from genre popularity to gender issue crises and pessimistic views of any new technologies. Maybe it’s time to return to why you’d want to make weird noises in the first place.

This is just a teaser for The Pleasure of Sound, a forthcoming documentary that follows Jad Abumrad and Matthew Dear for two days of music making. But the couple of quotes here for me speak to why we’re involved in this field. Jad Abumrad, the Tennessee-born composer and journalist known best for his work on WNYC’s adventurous Radiolab program, says it best, above.

(I may be biased, reviewing Jad’s bio. I was also born in the south – Kentucky – and I’m also of Lebanese-American descent and the son of two doctorates. I even had my first introduction to electronic music at Oberlin College. Funny how these things can go in parallel. I can be a Radiolab fanboy, though.)

I thought back to Abumrad’s quote last night, listening to stellar live shows by NHK’Koyxen, Holly Herndon, and Laurel Halo. Each of these three artists manipulated sounds into the dream worlds Dear and Abumrad describe in the teaser, even against the frame of danceable rhythms and drum machine conventions. Somehow, in those odder and otherworldly timbres and compositions, I hear something that I can’t express any other way – not in words, not even in my head, deeper feelings that only music can turn into sense.

When music and sound give you pleasure in ways that nothing else can, then you know why you’re doing it. I can’t wait to see the film.

The Pleasure of Sound

From WDET Detroit, which also has an amazing-looking series on the connections between Berlin and the Motor City.