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Various Artists


Remember how irritating those sound-effects LPs of the ’70s were? Well, welcome to a new millennium of irritation with the splendidly jarring 99 tracks of Touch: Ringtones, none of which were generated by the mechanism in your Nokia. From Vivaldi snippets (bits of The Four Seasons isolated courtesy of Bigert & Bergstrom) to the sound of spraying water (Cecilia Heisser’s “Molar”), these minuscule sound moments can be programmed into your phone to either raise or lower the grrr-factor of passers-by when you receive a call. The clips are deliriously diverse and playful: The World of Gilbert & George contributes languorous spoken-word entries, Rosalind Waters captures a pristine eight notes from Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” coloratura aria, Homage to Pan Sonic offers the sound of a hissy, scratched record, and Regina Lund tapes a desperate-sounding woman moaning “Come, take me, take me now”—which ought to wake up your seatmates at the Kennedy Center. Lovely moments abound: AER’s resonating “Arctic,” alku 2000’s gongy “El Ringtones es el Challenge,” Disinformation’s fuzzed-out “Live,” and Ikue Mori’s enviro-friendly “Trickling,” which is about the furthest thing possible from the angsty rustling of A Ringtone From Under the Floorboards’ untitled mininumber. Perhaps best of all, Marcus Davidson toys with his assignment in “Ringer’s Revenge”—a regular ring followed by a gunshot. Of course, context is everything: Touch isn’t counting on Ringtones to be a headphones album, unless its constituency is extremely high at the time. But in the absence of any new Sun Ra records, this is the perfect CD to put on at the very end of a party to frighten away the hangers-on, intrigue the hard-core, and frighten the shit out of the cats. —Arion Berger