Jo Thomas
Alpha
12" (E82)




Jo Thomas is a London-based composer and a tutor in Electronic
Sound and Music Culture at the University of East London.
Her compositional work is primarily focused on the human voice,
microsound and technological artefacts. It explores the semiotics
of the audio ‘glitch’ as an expression of freedom, failure and
human rights. Her music is frequently performed live and often
in a traditional electroacoustic setting (multi-channel diffusion),
where the emphasis is on exploring spatial acoustics. She has
written electronic works in the studios of INA-GRM in Paris and
EMS in Stockholm. Alpha is her first release.

See also
Jo Thomas (E142)
Outposts
Out of print

Edition of 200 copies

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Reviews

[Alpha] is a work with [a unique] aesthetic. Its three tracks
burst within the vinyl and lead you to a universe not unlike
that of Tetris; above you, geometric forms made from crashes,
feedback, buzzes and whispers. Luscious and delectable.
(French version)

Pierre Cécile at Le son du grisli

The three compositions included on this vinyl-only title span
the past ten years, including Glitch, Dark Noise and a new piece,
Alpha. Though Thomas’s work is to all appearances purely elect-
ronic, she is predominantly interested in such physical world
elements as imperfection, mistakes and the nuances of the
human voice, and she incorporates these into her work in
various ways. The appropriately titled Glitch, a complex sound-
scape that wobbles, whistles, squeals and explodes across a
vast range of sonic textures and frequencies, makes use of such
audio detritus as clicks, tape hiss, distortion and the by-products
of the granular synthesis process that are normally discarded.
These bits of noise added to the computer-generated signal give
the piece a warmth that might otherwise be missing, at times
pushing into grating, sand-in-the-gears territory. Dark Noise
is more architectural in intent, with particular attention given
to the physical placement of sound sources and the way they
combine to create a virtual space (though it must be said that
Thomas’s use of sonic architecture [throughout] is excellent).
The composition develops more slowly, subtly and systematically
than Glitch, with little percussive sounds rattling over a dark,
swirling undercurrent of low-pitched wind, and the occasional
intrusion of a highly processed female voice. Alpha is inspired
by the writing of the American post-feminist academic Donna
Haraway, best known for her Cyborg Manifesto. The piece uses
as its raw material electronically altered recordings of mobile
phone calls (some of them extremely low-fidelity) by both
women and men — Thomas’s multi-sexual response to what
she sees as a female-centric orientation in Haraway’s cyborg
theory. Alpha is the most musical of the compositions on the
LP, with nearly discernible pitches played on what at least
appears to be a keyboard instrument or sampler. But as usual
Thomas throws wrenches into the works at every opportunity:
the otherwise placid piece breaks down repeatedly, is interrup-
ted again and again by distorted glitches and discordant metallic
sounds, and from time to time goes completely silent for un-
comfortably long periods. Which is both imperfect and perfect.

Dave Mandl in The Wire