Lullatone: Computer Recital
Audio Dregs

Computer Recital is 40 minutes of gentle sine wave tones that perpetually reconfigure themselves into simple lullabies and music box melodies. Don't confuse Lullatone (Shawn James Seymour), however, with Ryoji Ikeda, another sound artist whose music is well known for its employment of sine waves. Comparatively speaking, Ikeda's music is cold, severe, and clinical, whereas Lullatone's is intimate, inviting, and warm. It evokes the remembered (or more likely reimagined) ambiance of a child's bedroom, with musical bells chiming in a mobile hovering over a sleeping infant's crib. That the inner photograph shows Seymour playing a child's multi-hued glockenspiel dovetails perfectly with the innocent and playful mood of the recording itself.

Most tracks adhere to a common template whereby multiple layers of treble sine wave melodies interweave. That “My Second Favorite Song in the World” begins in an almost Reichian manner is no accident, as much of the recording deploys a similar strategy of cycling patterns favoured by minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. While the sine waves do maintain a consistency of tone throughout, they sometimes resemble gently played kalimbas and percussive bells. Other instruments are added subtly to broaden the overall sound. An understated drum pattern emerges on “Resound,” and heartbeats and heavily processed vocals by Sookmi Park appear on “Tracing.” “Make This Sound” incorporates a clicking rhythm pattern that discreetly hints at a clicks'n'cuts connection.

Computer Recital is the kind of recording that will only impress if one listens to it in accordance with the stringent terms of reception that it implicitly sets forth. Otherwise, one will hear it as too repetitive and too unvarying in its mood. One will bemoan the absence of instrumental contrast, will become impatient with its incessancy, and will lead one to argue that 40 minutes of such gentle sine wave noodling is perhaps 30 minutes more than is necessary. While all such criticisms could be argued with legitimacy, they also evidence the adoption of a misguided mindset in broaching Lullatone's delicate music.

September 2003