Kerry O'Brien: Listening as Activism: The “Sonic Meditations” of Pauline Oliveros (New Yorker)
Her eccentric sound exercises—what she once called “recipes” for listening—briefly went viral. One score reads, in its entirety, “Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.” Like much of her work, Oliveros’s “Meditations” posited listening as a fully embodied pursuit—a posture of attending to sounds and to the world. But her “Meditations” are more than quotable texts. They began as sound and body experiments within a women’s group. Recounting their early history offers a look at the roots of Oliveros’s body-centered politics; in the midst of America’s current political chaos, her “Meditations” make a timely case for listening as a form of activism.
Peart’s time was closer to what a drum machine would do than a human. I’m not saying that made for “good” style in and of itself, as real groove is almost never right on the beat. But, it was unusual (not to mention difficult), and in the context of how technologically powered popular music would become in the 80s and beyond, oddly prescient.
Of course, progressive drummers like Can’s Jaki Leibezeit or Neu!’s Klaus Dinger had already been compared to machines, emphasizing either metronomic precision, mechanical repetition or both. But Peart’s factory-grade perfectionism was applied to decidedly non-minimalist, highly-structured music; night after night, to arena crowds. Rock critics called Rush “dinosaurs”, but they were on far better terms with the digital age than many cared to admit, if they realized it at all.