Various Artists | Ringtones

Touch | CD

As our attention spans shorten and our ability to focus for any significant length of time collapses in on itself with every fragmentary advert, the opportunities to explore shortform increase. Touch take things to logical extremes with 99 contemporary ringtones; the perfect accompaniment to our hyperdistilled digital lifestyles.

If you've ever suffered synthesised versions of S Club 7 within the tight confines of claustrophobic commuter spaces, now is the opportunity to savour the sweetness of revenge by inflicting a Pita ringtone on your fellow travellers. Clocking in at four seconds, 'ichiban' is typical, albeit short, Pita material: mangled, melodic, certainly attention grabbing.

Gilbert and George, Ryoji Ikeda and Fennesz also contribute, sitting comfortably alongside less established names in what amounts to a refreshing snapshot of contemporary sound (art) with the added benefit of possible future functionality. Disappointingly, Thomas Brinkmann is the only musician to contribute an actual ringtone (the rest being ultrashort compositions or ringtone 'possibilities').

Brinkmann's 'score' - 18 lines of code with, I suspect, one typesetting error - renders a minimal loop which, when keyed into your mobile, veers from 40 BPM funk to 225 BPM jungle depending on your choice of tempo. As the only composition to truly explore the narrow dynamic range of the mobile phone its interactive approach suggests the possibility of doing away with the CD altogether, an avenue that would be interesting to see explored further via the Touch website…

With so much on offer, it's difficult to pick personal favourites, but one contribution stands out: DJ Guacamole's 'A Concise History of Californian Rock Music in Under 5 Seconds' - the essence of music for the easily distracted 21st Century mind.

[CM]



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