Artist: Various Artists
Album: Project: Bicycle (2006)
Eleven electronic / electro-acoustic artists from eight countries unify to pay homage to what listeners of BBC Radio 4's You and Yours radio program have voted as the most significant invention since 1800, beating computers, the internet, and even the combustion engine with more then half the total votes.
The concept is simple: Give a handful of today's most progressive sound designers only one sample to work with. They are able to manipulate this sample in any way they choose, but their entire song most be composed entirely from the single sound byte.
The supplied sample is a studio recording of a bicycle, recorded by Jesse Gander at The Hive Studios in Vancouver. This gives equal importance to the materials as well as the method used in PROJECT: BICYCLE. This, along with the beautifully written essay on bicycle riding and it’s social, environmental, and physical benefits by Green Party Candidate, Sean Orr, offers a deeper concept to the project. With the inevitable threat of peak oil in our not too distant future, it is time we opened the lines of communication to other forms of energy and transportation.
The incredibly international list of artists (USA, CANADA, FRANCE, BELGIUM, GERMANY, DENMARK, ENGLAND, and ITALY) also furthers the concept, illustrating that peak oil, and global warming is everyone’s concern, not just one country or region.
Each artist has chosen to tackle the project uniquely, embracing his own particular style. Whether it’s the playful, electrifying outburst’s of SUN O.K. PAPI KO’s ‘Pizza Boy's Bike’ (Belgium) and AELTERS’ ‘Roulé Brouillé’ (France), or the smoother approaches of WOBBLY’s ‘Flee You' (USA), and ROMANHEAD’s ‘Bicycle Work’ (UK), the various techniques in composition and style offer an incredibly dynamic listen, given PROJECT: BICYCLE’s strict guidelines.
Perhaps the most interesting piece, GREG DAVIS’ ‘Sagres' (USA) is a collection of manipulations of the original sample played back threw a handheld tape player while he rides around town on his own bicycle, pushing the boundaries of music, as well as this project.
PROJECT: BICYCLE is open sourced, meaning the original sample appears untouched at the end of the compilation. This gives the listener a point of reference for each artists song, offering an inside perspective on what each musician chose to do with the supplied sound. It also encourages the listener to get involved on more then an audience level, offering the means to create a song themselves, removing the hierarchal relationship between artist and fan.
Overall, PROJECT: BICYCLE is an important compilation that unifies several ideas about politics and art, activism and creativity. Yet, these ideas are presented modestly and open for interpretation, not relying on a ‘beat you over the head’ approach that can be intimidating. On the most basic level, it is simply a collection of wonderful music by some of the world’s most creative people, with a simple message: have fun riding your bike.