Barking mad? Music just for dogs

PATRICK BEGLEY
Last updated 07:30 02/08/2014
Sydney Morning Herald

If you need somebody to review an album which only dogs can hear, there's only one way to do it, isn't there?

Michelle Shocked
SILENT TYPE: Michelle Shocked's latest album is aimed at a canine audience.

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It's a case of dog whistle politics in the music industry. 

US singer Michelle Shocked has thumbed her nose at digital music heavyweights by releasing an entirely silent album she claims only dogs can hear.

Inaudible Woman comprises 11 mute tracks named after prominent executives and a journalist who reported homophobic comments the singer made last year. 

Targeted executives include Patrick Donnelly, vice president of Sirius XM satellite radio, Robert Walls, vice president of Clear Channel Communications, and David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google, owner of YouTube. 

"I decided I was going to make a high album, in fact the highest album ever made, just so my friends Spot and Rex can hear it, not audible to human ears, and to raise money for my fall tour," the Dallas-born songstress tells fans in a video.

The album, which shows a dog wearing headphones on the cover, is available for download on website CDBaby.com for $US9.99.

But Shocked, 52, also wants fans to use streaming service Spotify to generate enough revenue to fund her touring. 

"If you stream Inaudible Woman for your dog all day on repeat while you're at work, it will generate four dollars," she said.

"So any city that streams Inaudible Woman more than 300,000 times means I can play there for free."

It is a ploy Shocked has borrowed from funk band Vulfpeck, who this year asked fans to repeat-stream their silent album Sleepify to generate money for touring. 

Music magazine Billboard reported the band made close to $US 20,000 (NZ$23,530)  in two months before Spotify removed the album in April without specifying why.

Fairfax Media has contacted Spotify with questions about Vulfpeck and Shocked. 

By releasing Inaudible Woman, Shocked is again courting controversy after she an anti-gay rant at a San Francisco concert last year in which she blurted: "God hates fags".

Many gay fans felt betrayed by the singer, who had spoken about female lovers without identifying herself as a lesbian, before she eventually became a born-agin Christian. 

Music journalist Chris Willman, who wrote about Shocked's outburst, was among those who earned a track-name mention.

He saw the funny side of it, paying 99 cents to download "Chris Willman": one minute and 15 seconds of pure silence. 

Shocked is not just following in the footsteps of mute funksters Vulfpeck but a host of other silent musicians. In 1952 experimental US composer John Cage released his 4'33'', a three part composition performed with a closed piano lid.

Before Cage, French artist Yves Klein wrote a composition including 20 minutes of silence while Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff created a movement containing only rests.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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