20.07.2012, Words by Ruth Saxelby

Chairman Kato's Focus Group mix

A couple of years back Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism, wrote a wonderful short essay for Dummy about the joys of collective listening and its ability to liberate us from digital distraction. In it he brought up the listening parties of the early 20th century and said: “I hope that it will be possible to reinvent those kind of listening practices in the twenty-first century. Can we rediscover and develop modes of listening that are intimate yet public, collective but anti-social?” Step forward all-round creative chap Chairman Kato who recently held the inaugural Focus Group event at which eight people – including London producer Blue Daisy, Juno’s Tony Poland, The Quietus’s Josh Hall, photographer Meg Sharp and me – had been asked to submit three tracks to play to those gathered in a back room of an East London pub on a rainy Sunday evening. We also had to justify our choices in written form which was published as a programme. At first, as Mark Fisher recounts in his piece, it felt a little strange to be sat in silence in a roomful of people, all just listening. But that soon faded into something akin to peace: the simple pleasure of listening. There was nothing to interrupt, nothing to distract; we were free to focus – see what he did there? – and soak up all the goodness. And there was a lot of good music but don’t take my word for it: Kato’s popped the whole 2-hour session on the internet (minus the interval) and you can listen below and download the programme over here.

Follow Chairman Kato on Twitter for updates on the next Focus Group

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