squint 00F

sitting on theories on the frontier of extension (2002)

Cal Crawford

Akin to Erik Satie’s advice to the performer of his Vexations to prepare oneself with some “serious immobilities”, Crawford here examines the impossibilities of holding still. For ‘sitting on theories on the frontier on extension’, his first full length solo CD, he generated sounds by sitting on top of a bundle of blankets with a microphone rolled up into its center. This one hour process was his starting point. He did further recordings by putting bodily pressure of various types of microphones: in water, clothing, skin, etc. Pressure was also created by heat, as in boiling water. The title “sitting on theories on the frontier on extension” refers to Crawford’s attempts to create a spatially extended recording from acts that lacked a movement through space and instead focused on increasing the distance of/inside specific points : pressure points.

As with all squint fucker press publications the CD cover exhibits an individual trace, a gesture, an intervention. In this case, each CD cover is hammered on a concrete block, the hit is aimed at the center where the title is printed. The hit mightmiss, partially obscure, or obliterate the title. The pressure points to itself. It boils over, whistles.


  1.        16:00
  2.        04:20
  3.        15:30
  4.        07:55
  5.        04:38
  6.        07:10
  7.        08:58
  8.        01:39
  9.        06:59

|CD+MP3 $6|

|AIFF $3|

|MP3 Free|



erp.terra.pl Issue 12
przemek chojnacki

Born in California, presently based in Montreal, Canada, Cal Crawford (any relation to the (in)famous Cindy?) aka speech.fake is a new, and promising, figure in the world of lowercase music. “Colorless in Small Amounts” (Throat 4 3″ CD-R 2002) makes a good introduction into his stuff. The twenty-minute track is a suite composed of painstakingly assembled and arranged various rumbles, drones, organic crackles, electronica, and last but not least, silence. You need to prick up your ears (or turn up your stereo) not only to actually hear the sounds, but also, more figuratively, to follow the thread which often disappears under the audibility line. A demanding but rewarding thing.

If you don’t know how to make each copy of your release individual and unique, you may as well put the cover on a piece of concrete and hit it with a hammer. This is what was done to Cal Crawford’s debut, the discs itself luckily kept away from both the hammer and the concrete. Generally, “sitting on theories on the frontier on extension” doesn’t show any radical changes to the sound, comparing to the above 3″ CD-R, save for some white noise in the opening piece and the silent pauses being proportionally longer. Upon closer inspection, one may find the sound matter here to feel more organic and its particular manifestations top be apparently disjointed, which brings us to the question of the album’s concept and background. The pressure applied to the poor sleeves of the album doesn’t seem just a whim of a blasé artist anymore when you learn that it corresponds with the pressure involved in the recording of the sounds: the microphone, rolled up into a bundle of blankets, was sat upon, pressed into skin, clothing, and even underwent an ordeal of boiling water. No horizontal progression (nor ideal immobility) can be achieved in this way so Crawford sets his magnifying glass to the instances of pressure-generated sonics. A fine work, one of those that can’t be fully appreciated only by what you hear.
All Music Guide (2003) François Couture

With this first solo album, Cal Crawford proves that he can hold his ground on sound art in the company of Christof Migone, Leif Elggren, Koji Asano and the likes. Sitting on Theories on the Frontier on Extension is a typically obscure release from Squint Fucker Press: visual presentation is reduced to a minimum (and yet manages to include a unique element, each cover having been hammered on a concrete block) and no details are given pertaining to the what, how or why of the sounds on the disc. The nine tracks don’t even have titles. The press release is more generous though. “Sitting,” in this case, refers to Crawford resting his behind on a pile of blankets with a microphone rolled into the middle of them. This one-hour recording served as the source material for this album, augmented by other similar recordings involving water, clothing and skin. The results are puzzling and unrecognizable. Microscopic sounds form crackling textures that are interrupted by stretches of silence. At times it evokes a contact microphone taken hostage in an ant farm; at others you’d swear it’s the sound of the fish tank air pump and filter heard from within the fish tank. As in Migone’s Crackers (assembled using only sounds of cracking joints), the source material rarely gives away its true nature, but its range of metamorphosis is slightly limited. Clocking in at 73 minutes, the album runs out of ideas halfway through, but still makes for a provoking experience.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Squint Fucker Press is a small label from Canada, run by Christof Migone and Alexandre St-Onge. Their releases are truly a work of art – not greatly designed, if designed at all, but the hardly readable writing on both CDs do not make things easy. I was glad I got some extra information on a piece of paper. Also musicwise, Squint Fucker Press, likes the more extreme and conceptual approach. How about Cal Crawford’s CD, which uses ‘sounds generated by sitting on top of a bundle of blankets with a microphone rolled up into its center’. That was a starting point: later on he made other recordings of various types of microphones under pressure: in water, clothing, skin and even boiling water. They are all ‘attempts to create a spatially extended recording from acts that lacked a movement through space and instead focused on increasing the distance of/inside specific points: pressure point’. It all sounds like a mouthful, but the muffled, crackling sounds captured in the various tracks on this CD are quite nice. If you don’t know the story behind it, one may wonder what it is all about as none of the sounds on this CD seem to be related to anything we know – maybe then, in some cases, for static hiss coming from the radio, but as we know it’s not. It’s a strange release, a lot of times it hovers somewhere down there, in which we don’t hear anything at all, sometimes it’s just soft crackle and occassionally, yes, it’s more audible. Captivating release.


Amateurs de musique expérimentale, si vous croyez avoir entendu tout ce qu’il est possible de tirer d’un son, avoir assisté à toutes les expériences imaginables, attendez-vous à repousser un peu plus loin les limites, avec ce disque qui parvient à des distances, des profondeurs probablement rarement atteintes dans ce qu’on nomme « musique expérimentale ». De ce point de vue, ce disque est excessif, et ce malgré sa minimalité radicale : la minimalité y est en excès. L’objet : neuf plages chacune assez longue, très souvent silencieuse, chargée ici et là de bruits blancs ou d’un son qui évoque le souffle du vent dans un micro. En réalité, le site de Squint Fucker Press nous apprend qu’il s’agit de sons générés par des pressions diverses sur le micro, par l’eau, le souffle, la chaleur aussi, les vêtements, la peau et même un tas de couvertures. Lorsqu’on monte le volume pendant les zones silencieuses, à la recherche du son soudain absent, on entend dans la microscopique ténuité résonnante tapie au fond du mix quelques chuintements, résidus d’une vie sonore réduite à son presque rien. Un atome de moins et l’on tombe dans le silence complet. Une musique à l’échelle de l’atome, en quelque sorte. Toute la musicalité développée par le disque tient à cette microscopie, cette micro-audibilité ou micro-auricularité, à la limite du silence, au bord du seuil entre ce qui est et ce qui n’est pas : un son caché dans des territoires interdits, zones d’où on ne pourra pas le débusquer. Presque rien, c’est aussi, dans les espaces les plus audibles de ce disque, un son pur augmenté de quelques harmoniques ou parasites. Une sinusoïde et quelques déchets sonores, drones, sons parasites, fragments de saleté qui viennent conférer une rugosité organique à l’abstraction. Une équation simple, des inconnues non identifiables, non digitales. Tout le problème est alors de savoir, en tant qu’auditeur, comment se situer par rapport à ce travail qui semble débouter toutes les habitudes de perception, toute la grammaire implicite de l’acte d’écoute. Entre grosse blague (conceptuelle) et œuvre ultra-théorique (conceptuelle également), la frontière est mince. Aussi ténue qu’entre le son et le silence. Je penche plutôt pour la seconde option. Si plaisir du texte (musical) il y a – car la sincérité d’une telle œuvre ne garantit pas le plaisir – il réside moins dans l’œuvre elle-même que dans ce qu’on peut penser de l’œuvre : posture par excellence de l’art conceptuel, à laquelle on souscrit (ou pas) selon le goût plus ou moins marqué que l’on éprouve à l’égard de ce genre d’essais. Je ne saurais me prononcer : à la fin, il faut bien admettre que c’est le disque – et pas moi – qui a le dernier mot, le dernier silence.


Cal Crawford is a performative scientist, an investigator of phenomenological minutiae, a squint artist.