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

I Am Sitting in a Singularity Listening (MP3)

The loop of dissolution, not accrual

One of the fascinating premonitions of the proposed singularity is when the avant-garde concepts of the past are, literally, transformed into digital processes — when concepts become code. Such is the patch called “lucier.amh”by Christian Haines. Haines has attempted with this exercise in automated looping to reproduce the decay inherent in Lucier’s classic “I am sitting in a room listening.” In Lucier’s original, the sound of him saying the title words is heard over and over, each rendition a rerecording of the previous recording played back in the same room. The work has a signature sonic fraying, as words disolve into syllables and then into noise. Mark Morse has applied Haines’ patch in the following piece to the electric guitar, letting simple guitar phrases devolve as time proceeds. It is an enticing performance, in large part because looping is so often associated with accrual, with layering, with accumulation, but here it is used as a source of dissolution.

This is from Morse’s post on the recording:

I’m normally a bit of an anti-loopist these days, I guess because I spent many years looping and just eventually became a bit fatigued by the sound of it and the playing strategies that it traps you into, etc. Nonetheless these are a few loopy guitar improvisations through one of the example patches that comes with AudioMulch version 2.

It’s a patch written by Christian Haines called lucier.amh, and it’s supposed to kind of coarsely emulate the resonant frequencies techniques used in I Am Sitting in A Room, though here there are no real rooms involved: these are the resonant frequencies of one NastyReverb contraption and five two-second SDelays (along with a bit of “nice” reverb at the end of the chain, added by me, which I realize completely smooths over and destroys any remaining vestiges of Lucier’s intended soundworld, but…I don’t think I was ever aiming for that anyway).

This is a simple patch, but an interesting and useful way to degrade or erode a shortish loop. In each of these recordings I stop playing after about 3 minutes, which is a little too soon musically: if I’d had a bit more patience I could’ve paced the first five minutes better, but the sooner I stop adding new material, the sooner the loop can start to degrade, and that degradation is what these studies were about. So that means that in each study there’s an absence of development from the 3:00 mark to 5:00 minutes while I wait for the resonance to audibly kick in.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/markemorse. More from Morse, whom some readers of this site might know better as (dj) morsanek, at morsanek.blogspot.com. He is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Larry Johnson
    [ Posted July 5, 2013, at 7:04 am ]

    I used samples of this piece for a variation/remix to be found here: https://soundcloud.com/l-a-j-1/room-study-12-variation-remix

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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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