1. Sphere of interest
Ex Vivo marks a strong departure from 2001's CHI-TAPE, a collage-work based on snippets from the airwaves of Chicagoland. By contrast, Ex Vivo contains computer-based compositions with moods varying from whimsical to grim, and a variety of and textures and techniques.
Click here for a a review of Ex Vivo from the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music, by Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner.
'Mimeograph Recordings experimental composer and sound artist Meri von KleinSmid has released work on Stasisfield, Mimeograph Recordings and has also worked with SoniCabal. Her latest release, Ex Vivo, presents a collection of pieces made from very different techniques, with cut-up vocal sounds, fierce wailing and hissing soundscapes. The sources of the sounds on Ex Vivo are varied and eccentric, for example, "Ethereal Tether" is made from recordings of birds, a Taiwanese tin can filled with water, traffic noise and KleinSmid's voice; "What Happens to the Deep-Sea Divers" was composed using a BBC News broadcast. Each track consists of a consistent theme, explored to its limits and occasionally left for new areas of exploration.
- von R. Dittmann, aus Bad Alchemy Magazin 51/06.
'Humming. Hisses. Scratches. Radios cutting in and out. It's all part and parcel of Meri von KleinSmid's work. Some call it experimental brilliance. I'll just state for the record that it's simply stunning...'Ex Vivo' is Meri von KleinSmid's opportunity to shine as a solo artist. Eight pieces she presents are as unique and individual as eight strands of hair still left on my head. 'Five-Word Farrago' is an experiment of word splicing. Unmodified subsets and micro-subsets of the same five words are taken and modified beyond recognition. What is truly amazing is her longer pieces ' such as 'The Rats in the Walls' and 'What Happens to the Deep-Sea Divers'. The former sounds like some sort of an echo chamber experiments, complete with spooky reverb and lots of coloring. The latter is a creepy composition that uses fragments of a malfunctioning BBC news broadcast. Once again, the piece sounds as if recorded in some massive chamber [maybe it was a cave?] and the echoes and creaks are overtly predominant. If this doesn't scare the living daylights out of you, I don't know what will? Computer manipulations rarely sound this real. For all it's worth, these two CDs expose the wonder of Meri von KleinSmid to a larger listening community.'
'With a batch of sound pieces collected from Y2K to the present, Meri von KleinSmid jolts the casual listener with concoctions that seem like the equivalent of b-movie soundtracks and toy instruments, alongside a whole lot of clever gestural manipulations. Equally blending field recordings with stuttering voice cuts, tracks like "Five-Word Farrago" play roulette with vowels while manipulating basic chord structures with radio waves. From fidgety to ambient, von KleinSmid develops short themes smartly using tones, drones or other left-of-center noises. Her "Idle Chatter" with its simultaneous talking tones, is the case in point, a humorous take on most interactive conversation at the crux of our Internet-laden voiceless culture. The metallic low-rise percussion of "The Rats in the Walls" plays out like an electronic chamber of wind. While meditative, it does question your immediately surrounding space, as a distorted absence of tactile presence. At about thirteen minutes, the track is an obvious stand-alone work that is evocative of most contemporary installation soundtracks. The subject looms thickly in the distance, through layers of translucence. The only drawback on Ex Vivo is the awkward, Gorey graphic layout.'
'This Seattle-based sound artist's classical training comes through in the care she takes in arranging her songs -- or perhaps they're better described as statements, for they are not idly contrived. Ex Vivo features von KleinSmid's carefully conceived critiques on society -- she creates sonic interpretations of emptiness, anxiety and conflict to illustrate her observations on culture, science and modernity.
Many of von KleinSmid's compositions are self-evidently titled. In "Idle Chatter", two high-pitched tones twitter competitively for prominence, an exercise in digital nattering designed to illustrative how very uncommunicative communication can often be. "The Rats in the Walls" is self-descriptive, droning for 13 minutes full of continuous rumbling, echoing and bellowing. The question posed in the title "What Happens to the Deep-Sea Divers" is answered in the track's flailing swaths of sound and seemingly endless murkiness. The tones sound as if they were funneled through countless leagues of distance and distortion. The tracks on which von KleinSmid's intent is less clear -- "Ethereal Tether"'s submerged, distant mechanization, or "Sphere of Interest"'s electronic croaking and whistling -- are not as successful.
Von KleinSmid orchestrates naked, trembling sonic landscapes full of sharp, craggy peaks and bottomless depths. Her work isn't for everyone, but it's definitely provocative.'
'Bewildering, nervous, provocative, soothing... these are words that come to mind when I listen to Ex Vivo by Seattle sound artist, Meri von KleinSmid. Wait, are those monkeys running the software? Is that the ocean pouring into my living room?
Ms. von KleinSmid really knows how to spice this avant garde stew with many moods. From the tranquil tones of 'the Rats in the Walls' to the twitchy and glitchy 'Idle Chatter', This metallic electronic sound is mesmerisingly delicious.'
'Eight multi-faceted works of atmosphere and thunder from innovative sound artist Meri von KleinSmid; each sonic collage/composition in its own way involves, haunts, and provokes.'