WHAT IS MEMOIR OF SOUND?
Memoir of Sound is an audio memoir of Carolyn Fok aka CYRNAI, who as a studio-based artist amassed materials surpassing 100 albums. Works include demos, electronic music releases, sound design/crafted pop and dance music, experimental, field recordings, and childhood stories dating back to 1976.
‘For over a year, Memoir of Sound required focus unlike any project, a quiet endeavor of meticulously editing and remastering song by song’ – Carolyn Fok. In addition, each album cover showcases her paintings, drawings, photography, and graphics.
As a result, Memoir of Sound is a profound testament of Carolyn Fok’s colossal forte in Sound Development. It is a recollection of life phases, reflecting influences at the time, and through technologies ranging from reel-to-reels, cassette tapes, DAT tapes, ADAT, mini-Disks, floppy disks, through early Apple Computers in the 1980’s, i.e. Mac II’s through current .
Memoir of Sound is the largest, comprehensive, exclusive collection of music and sound by Carolyn Fok, perhaps the largest of its kind, spanning 4 decades. And, may be the largest of its kind for a female composer in the area of electronic music.
Of note, Carolyn has maintained an equivalent and prolific nuance of materials that parallel in writings, diaries, and art that grew alongside sound and music. All of her work could be said to have been designed to ‘use my whole life in order to create its meaning and it was meant to deliver a story of human life and time.’
CAROLYN FOK BIOGRAPHY
Carolyn Fok is one of the most original recording artists working in any genre today, a conclusion which is inescapable to anyone who is smart enough to spend time with this amazing recording,” Wind & Wire.
‘But the music!’ Well, technically, it’s of the caliber of Brian Eno, Kitaro and earlier Tangerine Dream. Rather ambient, new age, techno, classical-theatre music seemingly written for a voice which seldom shows (there are a few vocal performances from Fok on the disc). Lovingly realized soundscapes of differing momenta and introspective traffic patterns.’ – The Muse’s Muse, Ben Ohmart
Carolyn Fok works have spanned nearly four decades since 1976, majority of it previously unpublished. She is perhaps best known for pioneering a form of experimental music intertwining her ‘handcrafted’ sound designs, real life, and popular rhythm constructs. She composes, produces, engineers, remixes and masters all her designs with synthesizers and percussion, and uses any instrument and sounds from piano, guitar, to gongs, as tools to an art canvas. Yet none of these tools rely purely on electronics as fuel, but instead turns to her constant inner voice and reclusive explorations simultaneously journaled in diaries with the same critical mass.
Carolyn’s music and sound began with recording stories on a tape recorder at age 9, 1976 in a New Jersey house. Intrigued with a 70’s drum machine that her father built from from scratch, and his multitrack recorder, she developed a self-taught songwriting approach—later experimenting in a vacuum in the suburbs of Walnut Creek, CAin high school. Around this time, she explored the scattering of musical instruments her father left in the living room, and discovered his Teac 4-track reel-to-reel—which set off a lifelong fascination with sound design. She also discovered his hand built flangers and analog delays, which were used in many recordings.
In early 1982, Carolyn created the stage name CYRNAI, and released Charred Blossoms vinyl / EP, in 1986, distributed by Rough Trade. Also, in 1984, Carolyn won a scholarship to The Academy of Art College San Francisco and moved into a family property which provided an excess of space to develop art and music, and located across the street from the college that lasted 17 years after until the building was renovated to commercial businesses, 2003. However, the space was mostly decrepit for years and a long insidious time of isolation ensued, yet the pursuit of creativity became an equally insidious endeavor that built her persona.
Noted recently by Tape Farm’s sound engineer while transferring CYRNAI tape reels to digital “Each one of the tapes that I’ve previewed is a project in and of itself. No one tape was recorded in the same way as the one before it.
” She released 1985 Parts of The Insomnic Wheel on Ladd/Frith label on cassette, with various compilation releases. Then 1986 ‘Hypno-Seizure’ (co-released with Dan Joseph, Sdie B), and two versions of “To Subtle-Drive” 1989/1990 cassette. She also simultaneously played in numerous San Francisco punk and industrial bands (from 1983-1991), including Treason, ASOM, Trial, Brainrust, Rhythm and Noise/Sound Traffic Control. At age 12, having moved constantly growing up, Carolyn began playing guitar at church recitals, then joined San Francisco bands.
In 1996, Carolyn released her album CYRNAI “Transfiguration”, featuring avant-garde guitarist Elliot Sharp, included a full-length CD accompanied by an 80-page book of paintings, illustrations, and writings. 2001 Carolyn Fok’s debut The Listener followed, and included contributions from electronic chamber music pioneer Tim Story, won OMNI Intermedia and AXIEM Awards for sound design, and landed on critic’s Top 10 lists. In 2011, Carolyn digitally released Magic Realism, including guest GRAMMY-nominated guitarist, Joaquin Lievano. Although she has been featured in publications including Electronic Musician, Keyboard and associated with Industrial music 1990’s, she collaborated with other varied electronic based musicians Kevin Kendle, Jack Hertz, Von Haulshoven, etc., she has been an intensely private musician, artist, writer.
Ms. Fok is also a renowned painter who had become exclusive to Asian galleries and buyers, after earning a BFA Degree in commercial illustration, and winning awards by New York Society of Illustrators. Her work won First Prize at the Philippe Charriol Foundation’s (Hong Kong) annual competition, leading to exhibitions sponsored by Movado Watch Company, and shows alongside original masterpieces by Van Gogh, Chagall, Dali, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Monet, Rosenquist, and others in Asian Art conventions.
“Memoir of Sound is the mother of all projects,” she exudes. “It’s a lifelong project where new material is continually added, then becomes a part of the chronology.”
For vinyl fans, check out CYRNAI 6-LP box set of officially released albums, plus unreleased works from 1980-1990 :
– Carolyn Fok
Welcome to Memoir of Sound.