Recently I encountered two sound installations that offer sanctuary from the omnipresent sonic imperium of holiday music, bustling shoppers, and chittering whine of printing credit-card receipts.

Shrouded in black, composer Byron Au Yong's YêJU: Songs of Dislocation is an orrery of memory, an attempt to chart the composer's recollections and speculations about his musician grandfather who emigrated from China in the 1930s. What kind of music might they have made together?

Au Yong replies with scattered sounds of an erhu (Chinese fiddle), rattles, and clattering percussion (including one of those small tam-tams that makes a boingy "pang") mingled with sparse cries, sighs, muttering, grunts, chants, and half-sung words. Projected onto hanging whorls of aluminum mesh designed by John Pai, blurred text, images of Au Yong's nursing home-bound grandfather, and videos of filmmaker Chishan Lin's father capture the fleeting nature of memory perfectly. Go alone and sit on the cushion facing west.

Although Gary Hill's renowned Tall Ships is part of Henry Art Gallery's WOW exhibition, Hill has a much different, low-key piece at 911 Media Art Center's new headquarters south of Lake Union. With a soundtrack by Australian sound poet Chris Mann, Language Willing serves up a top-down, binocular-eyed view of two hands treating a round floral print tablecloth like a DJ's dual turntables. Fingers creep and prowl from flower to flower as if divining a new language from Mann's hums, whirs, chirps, and coos on a gardener's spinning Ouija board. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

YêJU: Songs of Dislocation runs through Fri Dec 31. Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919, Mon-Fri 9 am to 6 pm, free.

Language Willing runs through Sat Jan 15. 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave N at Harrison St, 682-6552, Tues-Sat 1 to 7 pm, free.

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