So, foremost, a sound work by me, “The Apartment Piece”, has been released on ((Cave)) Recordings as a split with Chapels. This piece was recorded in Chicago using a variety of techniques and methodologies. It’s exemplary of my ideas regarding sound activity and domestic presences: Wherever I may be at a given time, I tend to place a recorder in a location where multiple sounds from multiple directions can be heard and can coalesce to create a singular listening experience. John Cage actually referenced this idea in a late interview, about which Marcel Duchamp evidently wrote. According to Cage, Duchamp began thinking of sound as not a “time art, but a space art”. From this idea, Duchamp created a piece called “Sculpture Musicale”, in which sounds converge at a point (presumably the listener’s) to create something “… lasting ; producing a sculpture, which is sonorous, and which remains”. This is an idea I’ve often thought about long before I heard the Cage interview or heard of Duchamp’s ideas regarding this. For quite some time I’ve been fascinated with the idea of listening simultaneously to a variety of sounds. This is especially applicable in a city apartment (when one has the windows open, of course, which I almost always do), although it can be noticed anywhere. For instance, from one window children can be heard playing in the park, from another the activities of a neighbour, traffic sounds, birds calling, wind blowing, clouds of leaves rustling, crickets chirping, the train passing, so on and so forth. Many times I would emphasise the sound activity by playing softly the Chicago classical station, WFMT, in one room, a quiet record in another, and some tape containing textural sound in a final room. Or some arrangement of the aforementioned and/or things not mentioned.
For “The Apartment Piece”, I started by playing an unidentified Dense Reduction tape (my sound duo with Travis Bird) and a primarily drone-based tape by Benjamin Galens (soon to be released on Notice Recordings). I recorded this with a microcassette recorder. I then recorded that to a 2-track cassette tape. I then played the microcassette back as well as the 2-track tape, in separate rooms, and recorded it once more with the microcassette recorder. Furthermore, I went about my daily domestic activities such as cleaning and doing the dishes. With this final tape, I began the composition. The tape was Channel 1 in my mixer. Channels 2 and 3 were connected to various outputs of the mixer, and thus functioned as no-input channels. Channels 4 and 5 were contact microphones, connected to various objects such as bricks, a metal box, and an old porcelain insulator connected to a brick via an iron spindle. The contact microphones were often used as interference with the microcassette speaker and microphone and the monitor speakers. There was also an open-air microphone introduced at one point or another. This was all recorded to 2-track cassette tape.
The result was, not surprisingly, very insular and self-contained. Elements of atmosphere and “space” remained, albeit harnessed by unexpected sonic configurations independent from the initial set-up. This was good. This articulates, in a kind of ambiguous way, the mental (internal) and physical (external) atmospheres of the time.
Quote c/o the site Scrapyard Forest. Drawing, as always, by me.