Monday, August 08, 2005

Control Tower Sound Aftermath

Wow, the weekend is over! Three days of sound art, performance, and what-have-you. Next time I'll do something more modest. And I'll do it sometime other than a weekend in August when everyone is out of town. But despite the low attendance I am happy with the results. It was an experiment and I managed to learn a lot about what my gear can do and what I am capable of putting together live. Besides, I got a lot of positive comments from those who took the time to check out something far from the ordinary.

Some audio samples are below.

For Friday night I performed Control Tower Sound itself. Here is how the handout described it:

"Tonight you will hear an electro-acoustic improvisation using a computer-based instrument system. Spoken word, found texts, sound effect elements, and original music will be processed along with actual aircraft control tower communications from Ireland and Canada. Sometimes sounds will be relatively loud, at other times very subtle. Close your eyes and enjoy."

Over the week the sounds had evolved away from the abstract into more structured pulses and beats. In some ways it was like a DJ gig, as I mixed from one software instrument to another, controlling two independent sets of stereo speakers. At all times I had two instances of Reaktor up on my computer, plus playback of pre-recorded audio files. Additionally I had a microphone for some spoken word injections, often processed through the built-in FX on my mixer.

Oh, and I used my Nord Micro Modular, but only for static, shortwave, and Morse code sounds.

I was wishing I was an octopus. A groovy octopus.

Nothing ever starts on time in Ireland but I had said that this show would be an exception. By 8pm there were Nordish bleeps and ATC voices filtering into the room. But I was still at home, changing out of my soundcheck and gear-carrying clothes. I got to the venue sometime after most of the audience, went up to the computer, and tweaked some very subtle changes for about ten minutes. Then I started the programme of events. Or restarted them. Or continued them. I'm not sure which is more appropriate but I was happy to have a question mark over when exactly the performance began.

By this point I had decided that I would directly address the audience at times throughout the show. I had debated this when formalising the show, but I finally figured I wanted to be as open as possible. I hate laptop artists who just sit their behind their screen, so all you can see is a stupid Apple or Dell logo. I set up my computer elevated to the audience and turned 90 degrees, so they could see what I was doing to some extent. (There will be pictures soon, courtesy Ruth Crean, who did a great job of helping with the show and keeping me sane.)

The show began -- erm, continued -- with the Control Tower Theme, a nice little ditty that I present for you here in its entirety. The MP3 sampling is a bit low, for bandwidth reasons. I am going to be putting together a CD of pieces recorded at the event, or at least re-interpretations of these. Then you'll be able to get nice shiny CD-quality tunes to hear in all their fuzzy wonder.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from Integrated Noise Model which you really need to hear in its full twenty-minute glory to hear how the drums evolve over time with the shifting samples. I am indeed happy with this and other collages that I improvised on the night. I got some very positive comments afterwards, which my tense body and tightly-focused mind filed away for later processing. It took ages to chill out after the gig. Two hours of concentration is a bit taxing, but next time I'll have more confidence in the physical setup so that will be one less worry.

Oddly, there was not one technical snafu or glitch all weekend. Well, let's just say that all of the glitches were deliberate!

While I'm thinking of it, I should quote from my own literature again:

"Thanks to Didier Leboz, Rachmiel Schott, Florian Erdle, Chris Malcolm, Pierre-Andre Soulier, Monolake, Marti Brinkmann, Lazyfish, Uwe G. Hoenig, and others for instrument design. Today you are all part of escalation 746."

More on the rest of the weekend later.



robin said...

I have updated the links to the audio samples.

Anonymous said...

congratulations, robin! wish i could have been there.

can you believe it's been 8 years since we did 4PointZeroT?

miss you!

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