When a musician interrupts the flow of posted songs on SoundCloud to introduce a simple field recording, the question is one of intent. Is the real-world sound intended as a pause, as a reflection, as a palette-cleanser?
This is the situation with Devin Underwood (aka Spectra Ciera), who makes his music freely available at soundcloud.com/specta_ciera. To at least one of Underwood’s listeners, the intent had more to do with a revelation regarding influence and aesthetic: “This track explains your dub tracks like no words could,” wrote a fellow SoundCloud homesteader, referring to the deep dubby tracks that Underwood has posted. “Great little moment captured.”
The track in question is titled, simply, “Rain in the Attic,” and that is, presumably, exactly what it is:
It’s a field recording of a cozy confine during particularly sonorous inclement weather. Of course, one cannot only listen to the rain. For one thing, we don’t really listen to rain; we listen to what it sounds like when the rain hits something, in this case the roof, perhaps a windowsill. We also listen through rain, in this case to what seems to be a passing plane. That plane is, I imagine, the “little moment” mentioned above, when the sound of the rain becomes a captured instance. That moment-ness (very different from, really the opposite of, momentousness) is what makes Underwood’s track a composition: the conscious framing of sound, the recognition of a special congruity of real-world variables. Great photographers frame with their lens, and that is the procedural equivalent to exactly what Underwood has accomplished here.