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How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World (Pitchfork)

Posted on 2016-11-07

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“Now, Teibel’s concept—the soothing sounds of nature, or at least a synthesized facsimile of it—is quaint, the wallpaper of therapy waiting rooms and spa foyers. At the time, it was entirely new. Here was something you could hear but weren’t necessarily supposed to listen to. It wasn’t a sound effect, but it wasn’t music, either. And while it professed to contain the ocean, it had none of the purity or taxonomic specificity you’d expect from a field recording (never mind Teibel’s contention that the ocean could use a little work). Here was nature not as it is, but as we hope it’ll be, the lullaby of waves without the sand in our trunks.

The album’s novelty proved to be both an opportunity and a burden. Steve Gerstman, one of Syntonic’s first and shortest-lived employees, remembers traveling across the country by train, making his lonely pitch to stores. “The first obstacle is that it’s not music,” he said. “So if it’s not music, why would they carry it, and why would people buy it?”

—From How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World by Mike Powell

We have enjoyed immensely this meticulously researched longread from Pitchfork on Environments creator Irv Teibel. Which is good, because—as author Mike Powell mentions at the end of this brilliant piece—“the Chicago label Numero Group has been working on retrofitting Environments for a contemporary context.”
We’ll have more details soon, but in the meantime, please check out this fantastic piece for an overview on the incredible story of the life of the ad agency man who started a (mostly) one man empire, selling the sounds of the natural world like no other before or since.

 


 
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How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World (Pitchfork)