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

A Rainy Night in Japan

Courtesy of Rambalac


You hear the cars before you see their lights. You hear the footsteps, a deep, constant pulse in contrast with the pointillist rain. You hear the pressurized air, when it comes into view to clean off the lens. You hear a small thudding, somewhere between footsteps and raindrops, this being the sound of the rain hitting, no doubt, an umbrella or a broad-brimmed hat. You look for a reflection, a shadow, to confirm this inference. This is the Rambalac video “Rainy backstreets of Japan at night 5.” Rambalac has nearly half a million viewers on YouTube, admirers of often hour-long, unedited footage of long, winding walks that are, like this one, generally set in Japan. Sound is a byproduct in these videos, a part of the document, but more frame than focus, more color than subject. Still, here the crackling — the sort that always, oddly, sounds more like fire than rain — is very much a centering component. One can be tempted to just watch, and sometimes I do have one of these running, perhaps at quarter speed, on a side monitor as eye candy, but the full audio-visual experience is where it’s at.

Video originally posted at youtube.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Gahlord
    [ Posted June 8, 2021, at 8:59 am ]

    This combination of sound/video/walk brings to mind a bunch of sound walk things, like a remote version of them almost. A friend of mine, Wren Kitz, told me of a project he worked on over the winter of 2020 where he took the same walk each day recording the audio. The layers building up compositionally, though I don’t know if that was intentional at first–the part of the walk near traffic, the part of the walk through crunch leaves (then quiet snow), the part where that dog barks. His cassette recorder was a dying old one so lots of mechanical texture as well. But anyway, fantastic link and video and things to think about. Thanks.

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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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