Acousmatic Science – Applied

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 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 ecological catastrophe, which, as Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letter #16 shows, was already a topic for artists in the 1960s.

Zooming In on Music and Sound Art

In addition, Sounds Central offers a few documentaries and the approx. 75-hour music stream idle, which combines many different styles and features each project with one track. idle is curated for infinite playback in shuffle mode to reassemble music history over and over again – in keeping with the rhizomatic nature of its subject.

Listening with Misophonia (illustration: Peter Kisur)

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 experiments in 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:

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 in 2023. The museum of contemporary and 20th-century art in Madrid 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

Mix Tapes for the Masses

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

200 Episodes of Radiophonic Miniatures

Paul Paulun 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.

Seanaps Festival 2020

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