From The Editor

Growing up is scary. No, not just that. The rare moments when one is truly conscious of the process of growing, aging, and developing balance on an edge between existential exhilaration and pants-messing horror.


I’m now 42 and I thought that the fear of change, having to deal with new concepts, uncomfortable levels of emotional depth, attempted understanding and empathy, and trying to categorize an accretion of knowledge, was essentially over. The basic skills of being a human should be in place, and so life is a simply a matter of  playing in the wiggle room and getting down to your work.  Therefore, the energy of being human can be put solely into art until you grow old and die.


Obviously, it’s just utopian, this idea, and as the realization of its impossibility dawns on me it is easy for the u- of the idea to slip into dys-. However, in moments of infinitely sunny idealism, I’ve recognized a few areas specific to ageing that have provided a constant source of joy. One of these is the willingness to enjoy the work of others: to let go and revel in the idea of handing over the reins of projects that you were, previously, too neurotic to let fall from your steely grasp.


So in the growth of an individual, also in the growth of a publication. After 16 issues, it is finally time to move from the single curation of a quarterly journal toward making Sound American more discursive—less singular and more communicative. This year, the publication will feature short pieces curated by Experimental Sound Studio’s Chicago-based Option Series and 9 Evening plus 50 headed by avant-garde angel Julie Martin and the Iliya Fridman Gallery. And, in larger scale, this glorious “letting-go” is the subtext for the first issue of 2017.


So, it’s time to slap myself in the face, resist my inner control freak, and give an issue of Sound American over to some guest editors. I’m easing into it, featuring the Mumei Publishing team of Heather Frasch and Ryoko Akama, along with their own recent guest editor Audra Wolowiec and their vision of Sound American Issue 17: Networks of Listening.


Audra was, in fact, the impetus for this new generation of guest-edited SA issues (which will occur about once a year now). I was, and still am, so illuminated by her “How I Listen” piece for our 13th issue that I was convinced to look beyond my own point of view and ask others to take part. Audra suggested Heather and Ryoko, whose fifth version of Mumei she had helped to edit, and free rein was given. This first experiment has been a joy, and I think the results within signal a long overdue outward turn of the publication’s gaze.


Heather, Ryoko, and Audra have created an issue that maintains Sound American’s original mission to dare readers to openly explore new and uncomfortable topics in their own more and less critical approaches, and they’ve done it in a fashion that challenges my own ingrained sense of the linear narrative in new and exciting ways.


For me to attempt an overview about this issue would be to negate the point of having guest editors, but, before I depart on some administrative tangents, I will give one piece of advice: This is not a one-sitting issue. As you may be able to tell by the layout of the index page, the articles invite comparative and relational readings over time. Even if you are able to read all the text, listen to all the music, and look at all the images, come back and do it again. You will be rewarded.


Finally, two pieces of business. First, thank you to all who purchased the first Sound American book. It is now sold out, but it will be made available again next year when Sound American, Volume 2 is released. There will be other items for sale in the next months, including a new CD of Alex Mincek’s (formerly of  Zs) visceral and provocative chamber music and a special first-time meeting of cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, who recorded a one-of-a-kind redefinition of the great American Songbook (LP released in December this year). Please stay tuned for more information about these new developments and thank you, again, for all of your support.


The sale of products puts SA in a peculiar place. I have always been proud of how open and honest the publication has been, both in what content it puts forth and the way in which it does it. When money enters the equation, that transparency becomes more difficult to maintain. It has been essential to me, since the journal started, that funding did not dictate the content. I have strayed from that concept, only once, allowing an outside agency to fund an issue as an experiment, and it is a decision I still regret.


To that end, SA will be rolling out the first quarterly “transparency page" in the next few weeks. The page outlines all sources of revenue into the journal: all money from sales, donations, gifts, and granting sources. There will be an accounting of what the money used for the past issue went toward, including web hosting, honorariums to participants, fees to copy editors and for licensing streaming music, etc. And, for the first time, I will tell you what the next issue has in store and what the budget will be for the money you may be giving to the journal over the next three months. It is my hope that this transparency of funds will continue to uphold the honesty and integrity I’ve tried to instill in the project from the start while helping those readers who may be thinking of donating to SA in knowing exactly where their contribution will be spent.


It’s time to grow. It won’t be easy, if life is any indication, but I have to believe that the results are worth it. Please enjoy, share, and think.