The Literal and Metaphorical Low Level Hum (MP3)

The Chicago-based radio show the Radius followed up its Art of Failure episode with one focused on the work of C.R. Kasprzyk, which notches back from failure to mere stasis. Titled “07.13.10b,” and nearly a dozen minutes in length, the piece is a suite of hums and buzzes that, as Radius describes it, takes as its source and subject “the mundane portions of our lives”:

These sounds, primarily the electromagnetic fields produced by computers, printers, TV’s, cars, electricity poles, coffee makers, etc., acknowledge the (in)visible place technology has in today’s society. Through close observation of this environment, the music strives for a nonlinear form; an immersion of moments found in daily life that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The result is both survey and tapestry. The individual parts are, with close attention, reminiscent of everyday life, the literal low level hum that gives voices to the metaphorical low level hum of daily activity: the buzz that serves as backdrop to the living room when the TV and stereo are off and the rest of the household is asleep, the fuzzy noise that fills the gap between buses at an urban intersection with more than its share of telephone poles, the nearly subaural undulations that emanate from the restaurant kitchen as closing time nears. But this isn’t just a catalog of field recordings. It’s elegantly arranged in a manner that plays the sounds against each other, setting pairs of quiet moments in stark contrast in a way that highlights their intrinsic differences.

Track originally posted at and the radio broadcast’s site, More on Kasprzyk, a doctoral candidate at Bowling Green State University, at

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