There are countless forms of musical collaboration, and one of the most intimate would be the situation when one musician processes, live, the sounds of another. Such activities date back at least as early as Brian Eno’s role during live performances by Roxy Music, and today flower in the realms of microsound and the electronic fringes of free improvisation. To take one musician’s sonic emissions and, as they occur, reshape them is something akin to being a live-action dramaturge: interpreting in real time. Back in November of last year, British musician Simon Whetham, who has a specialization in field recordings, was preparing a performance at the adventurous Prague gallery Školská 28. Scheduling and shared interests put him in touch, thanks to the gallery’s director, Miloš Vojtěchovský, with Michael Delia, a U.S. musician who resides at times in the city. Their performance, which was recorded and later made available for free download as an MP3 file, involves Delia on various unspecified instruments and Wethem on field recordings and the processing of Delia’s efforts.
The performance is both earthly and spectral, the sounds modest and rudimentary, but their effect often ghostly and otherworldly, little tinkling utterances turned into suggestions of visitation. Whetham’s processing provides the fulcrum of these two extremes, as he takes Delia’s small sounds and abstracts from them fluttering, echoing extrapolations, which for all their inspired interpretation are still appropriately modest in scope. At the best moments, it’s as if Whetham is finishing Delia’s sentences.
More on the performance, which took place November 20, 2010, at cronicaelectronica.org. Performance announcement at skolska28.cz. More on Delia, though the site seems out of date, at mad.lemurie.cz. More on Whetham at simonwhetham.co.uk.