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Christian Carrière’s Sacred Space Exploration

Using a no-input console

If the sonorous spaciousness of this track by Christian Carrière has a heavenly resonance to it, there’s a specific reason for that impression. Not only was the audio recorded at a church, but the recording process entailed exploring the characteristics of that space itself. The location is in Montréal, Québec, at the Église Sacré Coeur, which is approaching its 150th anniversary. Carrière explained to me via email that his project originated in 2019 as a consideration of “the acoustics of sacred spaces,” the plan being to use, as he described it, “the pure tones generated by my polyphonic no-input console.”

A no-input console is one in which the sound emitted is nothing but the inherent noise fed back through the console itself, resulting in unique, often alien-seeming tonalities, such as the ones heard here. Carrière has been at this a long time. Here’s a video, dating back nearly a decade, of him performing some of “Fratres” by Arvo Pärt, the Estonian composer, using a no-input mixer:

The tones heard in “Sacred Acoustics T004” are externalized in the heart of the Église Sacré Coeur on a system of speakers, and then the sound is recorded, capturing the echoing effect that the architecture gives shape to. Explains Carrière, “The idea was to tune the tones of the console to the resonant frequencies of a given space, thus emphasizing — and playing with — its inherent acoustical properties.” The sounds are glorious, pulsing and swelling and sinuous like an otherworldly choir.

Track originally posted to Carrière’s SoundCloud page. More from him at christiancarriere.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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