The latest from the excellent Chicago-based broadcast/podcast Radius may be its most quiet yet. “Recording the Spirit Level” is Dan Tapper’s excursion into “very low frequency”” (VLF) signals. As the site explains:
These signals are generated through electromagnetic fluctuations, or changes in magnetic signals produced naturally by the ionosphere, including lightning strikes and the Aurora Borealis. Collected using a homemade loop inductor, the raw magnetic sounds collide with interference produced by man-made technology to illustrate the relationship between humanity and the natural world.
The result is more akin to the soundscape of remote pond life than to an industrial grid, or perhaps more to the point a shallow pond near a single whirring electrical post. It’s all light glitching, amphibious burps, amid a low-level hum of nuanced communications effluvia.
The great things about listening to Radius, which is organized by Jeff Kolar, is the way each project provides a different aspect of the myriad ways that radio signals can provide the starting point, rather than merely a means to transmit, artistic practice.