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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

The Doors of Perception / The Perception of Doors (MP3)

The otherworldly horror inherent in everyday sounds

Sonic source material exists anywhere and everywhere. Often the most ordinary sounds yield the most fantastic results, and not only because their content is so ignored as to serve as a secret well of audio fodder. Perhaps the main reason everyday noises can yield alarming results through experimental electronic audio processing is because by focusing on these sounds, the composer employing them simultaneously exposes the noises elsewhere, and in turn asks what is inside of those sounds. If, for example, the supermarket doors that serve as Ambienteer‘s quotidian muse in a recent track can yield the sort of anxiety generally associated with a Francis Bacon portrait, what of other doors: the locked one that leads to the bedroom, or the mechanical one enclosing the garage, or the hinged one that covers the front of the oven?

He explains his process on “Automatic Doors” as follows:

This v.experimental piece is a recording taken 5/3/2012 of the automatic doors of a supermarket in Addlestone, Surrey. It’s a really amazing sound yet I can’t think why they’ve chosen such noisy, if harmonic motors.

I’ve simply layered three versions of the recording, each warped a little in pitch, to thicken things, and slightly effected the overall mix with some eq and a little reverb.

I hear a sound that reminds me of childhood days playing in tower block lifts, with the sound of the wind whistling through the elevator shafts in which we travelled along with the clunks, clicks and the singing electrical motors.

The result is a quietly harrowing tour, the rattling of chains as if in some paraphysical prison. Often a fade-out can sound at a track’s end like an easy way out for the composer, the close of a piece of music just decreasing in volume until it hits silence. But here, it is as if some nightmare train is slowly pulling away from the station, going into the dark distance. And just as it’s almost out of earshot, there is one final primal whine.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/ambienteer. More on Ambienteer, aka James Fahy, at ambienteer.com and twitter.com/ambienteer. He’s based in Guildford, Britain.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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