release date: 18 january 2022
listen on soundcloud
In developing this first episode of 2022 I began with a structuralist approach, chaining together a sequence of two minute excerpts lifted from recordings I’ve made over the past few weeks, including filed recordings. microphonic experiments and my ongoing sometimes frustrating, sometimes beguiling explorations of modular synthesis.
That initial sequence of excerpts asked for additions, extractions, stretches and folds, stitches and holds, to eventually bring this composition out of nothingness.
Vaguely, lately, I’ve been notioning about sonic ecomimicry – trying to develop, determine, recognise or discover synthetic sound fields that feel like aspects of acoustic sonic experience when out in a forest, by a river or hill creek, sitting amongst heath shrubs or any other place or context where some remnant of pre-industrial, pre-capital, pre-digital entangled environment persists. Listening to insects, birds, rainfall, wind, distant wave wash – immersed in audio randomness, being in the fluid ever-mutable, frequently acousmatic moment.
I like to think this is not a romantic or nostalgic pursuit. I simply have always enjoyed being away from the noise of other humans, amongst the chatter and action of other sentient beings going about their existences, because I find that interesting, always have, and being as old as I am now, expect I always will – why fight it?
Of course, stochastic sound isn’t at all limited to the diminishing ‘natural world’ – everything that exists – and everything that doesn’t yet or any longer – is in various ways natural. So I do also enjoy and field record the sounds of a building under construction, people milling about in a museum foyer, water dripping from downpipes after rain.
Which bubbles up the enquiry of what it is that’s so captivating about the stochastic production of sound. Is it evolutionary attention, the oscillation between hearing and listening to predict, identify, locate, pursue or flee ? Probably something of that…
But I expect this fascination is also quite personal, culturally inflected.
I have heard it said that we can close our eyes, but we can’t close our ears. Maybe we don’t need to close our ears because that is, in fact, our default audio-sensory mode. Hearing happens, but Listening is opening – like opening eyes to see. Opening the mind doors to be attentive, to change the audio-sensory mode from passive – a kind of continual subconscious scanning – to tune into clear attention, to do the active present work of making meaning from all the noise.
One of the popular cultural figures amplified in the 20th century was the songwriter and the singer songwriter – shapers of music and words into affect. I’m more of a sound writer, an artist enacting irrational enquiry via a kind of free association, drawing with sound, taking time, shaping time, offering ponderable propositions of slippery bewilderment.