In a way, Sounds Central‘s approach to presenting music is related to ideas of European medieval cartographers. Their mappae mundi didn’t claim to depict the world exactly, but rather intended to broach issues they found fascinating, e.g. biblical stories, mythology, or certain knowledge. As a DJ, Paul Paulun’s way of addressing musical phenomena is the mix.

Mappa mundi with Noah’s ark and his sons (detail) by Simon Marmion (1459-1463)

Accompanied by introductory texts and brief annotations on each track, Sounds Central’s concise mixes zoom in on artists, labels, and moments in experimental music: What was happening in New York City during the Sixties? How did music develop in Jamaica from the Fifties to the Nineties? And what about the numerous manifestations of ambient?

With audio essays, Sounds Central traces themes such as Western musicians’ interest in tabla drums, the nature of war, or the climate crisis, which, as Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letter #16 shows, was already a topic in the 1960s.

A Personal History of Music and Sound Art.

In addition, Sounds Central offers documentaries and and series like the Ambient Channel or the Jukebox. They reassemble music history from a pool of different contexts and times – entirely in keeping with the rhizomatic nature of their respective themes.

Paul Paulun has been active as a music performer and presenter in a variety of fields for four decades. Since 2015, he has been taking listeners of the cultural magazine Kompressor on Deutschlandfunk-Kultur on acoustic journeys. The 260 episodes of his series Fundstück (relic) feature radiophonic miniatures that are works of sound art, field recordings, animal music, poetry, or something else.

With Sounds Central, Paulun tells a personal history of music and sound art. It is based on more than 10,000 releases that he began organising in a digital archive at the dawn of the terabyte age in 2012. In 2021, Paulun received a research grant for Sounds Central from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe for curatorial development in the visual arts.

With a grant from the German Musikfonds e.V. in 2022, he developed an experimental approach to coping with the disorder misophonia. It is based on his own experiences both with conscious listening and as a sufferer of misophonia.

NB: The music heard on Sounds Central is usually transferred directly from CD, ripped from vinyl or cassette in 24bit/48KHz resolution, or purchased online as AIFF/WAV. After arranging a mix in Pro Tools, a CD-quality FLAC file is uploaded to Mixcloud.

Recent activities

Sounds Central’s sonic meditation Wild Thyme Music (1) is played as part of the Mindful Social Listening project at the Centre For Ethnomusicology/University of Alberta. The MSL series explores how soundscapes can improve student wellbeing and academic success. (January 2024)

Draped in Orange – Balancing Word and Sound in Poetry

Lecture at Muthesius Kunsthochschule/Kiel (February 2023)

As of October 2022, Sounds Central is exploring the concept of 21st century chill-out with the bi-monthly show Headroom on Athens based Movement Radio. The international online radio station’s program is produced by Onassis Stegi.

Paul Paulun will contribute to Reina Sofía’s radio station RRS. Madrid‘s museum of contemporary and 20th-century art has reorganized its permanent collection to offer narratives and experiences from feminist, decolonial and ecological viewpoints.

Sounds Central showcases a DJ-set at Meakusma Festival in Eupen (Belgium) in September 2022.

With the support of a grant from Musikfonds e.V. for summer and fall 2022, Paul Paulun is investigating some circumstances of his misophonia and developing a workshop program to practise conscious listening. The aim is to find out whether such a listening mode is helpful in reacting more calmly when being triggered by misophonia.

Launched in February 2022, Belgian radio station Studio Néau broadcasts a selection of mixes from Sounds Central.

From September until December 2021, Sounds Central is supported with a research grant for curatorial development in the visual arts by Berlin’s Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

Better than algorithms. DJ and radio journalist Paul Paulun compiles handpicked experimental music collections. Read the article (February 2021)

On the occasion of his 200th episode with radiophonic miniatures, Paul Paulun talks about sonic archeology, which sort of sound art works for the series, and the connection between such relics (Fundstücke) and his speaking archive Sounds Central.

Talk with Massimo Maio, host of DLF-Kultur‘s magazine for pop culture Kompressor (February 2021)

From November 2020 until April 2021, Sounds Central is supported with a grant from Musikfonds e.V.

Introducing the speaking archive at Leipzig’s Seanaps Festival in October 2020 (Paul Paulun being interviewed by Tina Klatte and Maximilian Glass).