Unsilent Night in the Press
"Now hitting its 15th year, Unsilent Night has
been performed across the world, from Berlin to Tallahassee, and has been
recreated in the studio for a gorgeous CD on Bang on a Can's Cantaloupe
Music label. One of few Christmas albums actually worth buying, the disc
is an ambient wash of heaven-sent shimmer, recognizable as seasonal mostly
for its modulating bells and time-stretched hymnal melodies."
"In what is now a holiday rite, Phil Kline's boombox
Christmas parade starts working its way eastward from Washington Square
Park as the amplified drones and chimes and bells echo off buildings, stop
traffic, baffle passers-by and encourage taxi horns to chime in. The 44-minute
electronic Christmas carol is a slippery, swirling blizzard of sound that
is the sountrack to 'Unsilent Night', an event that began in New York in
1992 and has become a seasonal classic in 15 other cities, from Australia
to the Yukon."
"An annual seasonal favorite now celebrating its
15th year, Unsilent Night is an open procession for an unlimited number
of boomboxes that starts under the arch of Washington Square Park. Musically,
it begins with delicate strains of Phil Kline's composition rising as marchers
turn their boomboxes up to 10 and wind their way through the streets of
the East Village, enveloped in the bubble of Kline's glorious ambient score.
Unsilent Night's pageant ends under the giant elm in Tompkins Square as
the final notes once again reach up to the heavens, offering thanks for
the past 45 minutes of joy and redemption."
"Unsilent Night immerses the listener in suspended
wonderment, as if time itself had paused inside a string of jingle bells."
"Kline's boombox-chorale parade from Washington
Square Park to Tompkins Square Park has become a bona fide holiday tradition.
Kline's luminous, shimmering wash of bell tones is one of the loveliest
communal new-music experiences you'll ever encounter, and it's never the
"A dreamy fruitcake of parts, tranquil even through
"A marvelously fluid, traveling spatial sound
sculpture that disintegrates and reforms at nearly every stop light. This
is a holiday tradition that could give new music a good name."
"Here's a gorgeous holiday-season sleeper from
Bang on a Can's label, a joyous, continuous electronic collage full of
wildly pealing bells and chimes, voices, wall-of-sound textures and more,
as heard from multiple boomboxes moving though the streets of Greenwich
"If an avant-garde Christmas record exists, this
“This is the first necessary classical recording of
the 21st century."
"Phil Kline's postmodern boombox caroling walk
is more than just performance art: It's a demonstration of community."
"From Baltimore to Banff, Sydney to San Francisco,
New York composer Phil Kline's Unsilent Night parades have brought avant-gardians,
pop princesses, and kids of all ages together for communal, electronic
caroling. After 15 years as a cult phenomenon, this fusion of peace, togetherness,
and sound hits Los Angeles. Kline's 40-minute symphonic masterpiece intermingles
with city sounds as participants parade around proudly. Whether you press
play or don't, just being there is enough to get your holidays off to a
stunning, if off-kilter, start."
"One of the most exciting new music events of
the holiday season is Phil Kline's transformative Unsilent Night, which
began in NYC 15 years ago. I’ve had the pleasure of joining the musical
pilgrimage at least 5 of those years and this year Unsilent Night is making
its way to 15 other cities around the world. For a complete schedule visit
his website, and if you're not living in one of the lucky cities, you can
at least still buy the CD."
"It's a 44-minute exercise in musical democracy
and Christmas cheer. It's a tradition for our times, a modern twist on
strolling minstrels and caroling parties. It's an ethereal yuletide composition
performed on upward of 50 synchronized boomboxes. It's Phil Kline's Unsilent
Night. And it's coming to Baltimore tomorrow night."
"Grandma never envisioned experimental Christmas
carols. She is more than content listening to tone-deaf renditions of 'Jingle
Bells' and 'Little Drummer Boy' while greedily sipping her booze-heavy
eggnog and donning her beloved embroidered reindeer sweater. Thanks to
artist and composer Phil Kline you can participate in a holiday caroling
tradition that Grandma won't approve of. This unconventional yuletide phenomenon,
called Unsilent Night, is similar to the infamous Parking Lot and Boombox
experiments performed by the psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips: participants
bring a boombox (or an MP3 player with speakers) to simultaneously play
Kline's ambient carols and walk the streets awakening dormant holiday cheer.
The resulting sound is unlike any Christmas music you'll ever hear. It
is the haunting clamor of tolling bells, the cacophony of inspired voices,
and the rocking wall-of-sound quality that make it more like avant-yule
noise than caroling. Envision Brian Eno interpreting ‘Deck the Halls.’
Kline , who has hosted these gatherings throughout the country since 1992,
helps to create moving musical art and a great irreverent way to celebrate
"Here's something new and cool and possibly moving
and/or disastrous: Unsilent Night. Everybody's invited to bring a boombox
and will receive a cassette, CD or digital file to play at an appropriate
moment in the procession (or something like that). New York composer Phil
Kline came up with the idea of an 'electronic caroling party', and it is
hoped that it will become a yearly custom."
"A crowd gathers, each member holding a boombox
aloft in what looks like mass homage to 'Say Anything' Lloyd Dobbler. At
a shouted command, each participant hits the 'play' button, and slowly
a miasma of postmodern classical music, influenced by the likes of Steve
Reich and Brian Eno, emerges, sound waves oscillating their way into a
tumbling array of unified chaos. This may not sound like your typical Christmas
celebration, but Unsilent Night is the holiday brainchild of a very atypical
artist, New York-based compost Phil Kline, who got his start in the late-1970s
No-Wave music and art scene. Kline says he hopes Angelenos will leave the
confines of their cars to enjoy the sounds of controlled holiday chaos.
'Whether or not I intended it to be a communal event, it does seem to have
that effect,' he says"
"Why can't orchestras set up sound installations?
There's a wonderful composer in New York named Phil Kline, who currently
has a CD called Zippo Songs, haunting music that's especially potent live
( the sound has almost a physical presence in the concert hall). But he's
especially famous for Unsilent Night, which he's presented yearly in New
York since 1992. It's an outdoor ambient music piece for an infinite number
of boombox tape players. From his website: '�It's like a Christmas caroling
party except that we don't sing, but rather carry boomboxes, each playing
a separate tape which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city-block-long
stereo system!' Strangely, I've never heard it (or, rather, been part of
it), but I've been in another boombox piece Kline did, and it was lovely,
both as sound and as an experience. I felt like I was part of a community,
as I walked along the streets with the procession, the sound radiating
all around us. And at the same time, I felt like I was part of the city.
Orchestras might think that Phil Kline, Max Neuhaus, and Jeanne-Claude
and Christo have nothing to do with them, but they'd be wrong. All these
things happen in the same world that orchestras inhabit, in the same cities.
They touch the people orchestras would like to reach. Orchestras need to
show that they're interesting, too. They need to connect to the world around
them, and especially to new and fascinating art in the world around them.
If they can't do that, they're dead. (Phil Kline, by the way, has presented
Unsilent Night not just in New York, but in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Philadelphia,
San Diego, San Francisco, Vancouver, Cleveland, and Middlesborough, England.)"
"En masse they arrive with boomboxes at their
side, waiting for the maestro's cue. Upon word from New York-based composer
Phil Kline, the stereo-lugging public collectively presses 'play' to unleash
a cacophony in the streets. The result isn't some unruly disturbance; it's
a modern-day caroling of sorts known across the globe as Unsilent Night.
Throughout the month of December, Kline's seasonal sound project will encourage
electro-carolers from Australia to South Carolina to gather in their respective
cities and celebrate the season with the simple push of a button. Come
Saturday, it's San Francisco's turn to party with Kline and a brigade of
boombox-bearers for the fourth annual Unsilent Night mile-long stroll in
the Mission District. The amplified sounds of chimes, bells and traditional
holiday hymns are set to reverberate across the urban landscape of alleyways
and neighborhood storefronts for the holiday music street celebration.
'Its a really beautiful experience that anyone can be a part of', Kline
says. 'People don't have to do anything other than show up with a boombox
and hit 'play'. It's free, it's easy and it's an amazing thing to experience.'
Kline, a composer known for his experimental edge, concocted the idea for
Unsilent Night in 1992. Inspired by the work of Brian Eno and Steve Reich,
he isolated varied sounds on individual cassette tapes with the intention
of playing each piece back simultaneously on different boomboxes to create
a portable symphony. The piece, which now runs about 45 minutes and is
available on CD from Cantaloupe, was designed to withstand the unreliability,
playback delay and occasional quavering tones of cassettes. ‘About 90 percent
of people have CD players now, so I make [CDs] available as well, but there's
something about the twinkling, hallucinatory effect of a warbling cassette
tape that I enjoy', says Kline, who distributes the pre-recorded music
randomly to boombox carolers at each event. Initially, Unsilent Night was
little more than Kline and a dozen of his friends strutting through Greenwich
Village with boomboxes playing his cassettes, but that mini orchestral
procession has since morphed into a gathering of 2,000-plus strangers in
New York alone, Kline says of last week's celebration in Washington Square
Park. The New York event is definitely the biggest and it's certainly very
special to me on a level all its own, but San Francisco's Unsilent Night
event is one of my favorites', he says. 'The streets of San Francisco are
a little more intimate and the sound is just amazing. I'd say it has the
best sound of all the cities.'"
FOX45 news story about Unsilent Night, Baltimore,