Monday, February 22, 2016

rotational riff: field recording b/w breathing blues

giving away the fucken secrets, but that’s okay and that’s part of this mirror showing, have to be able to know how to turn it and know what to look for.

best sound of the day was the neighbour scraping away at the smallest bit of ice forming that wasn’t quite snow and wasn’t quite ice yet, and it made a softer sound than you think, knowing that the shovel was hitting fairly pure at the spot of contact. 

anything can be recorded and listened to later, the role of the receiver is to discern what makes sense and what is interesting. the verite style of kitchen sink recording/reporting, put the mic in the room or in yr pocket, forget it’s there (or realize it’s there the entire time), go back and see what you got, add to it or leave it be, all these possibilities are finger-tip selections away but the soul or spirit of the piece (or future piece) has to create a theme or narrative. and maybe that narrative vision is simply letting the reproduction of the time/place be that thing itself, that’s the object that comes out of the speakers, as it was recorded. that water lapping against the side of the boat is more than good enough, the rainstorm as well, birdsong and tree branch sway are great sounds too. 

we can insert ourselves into the picture, taking away from the purity of field recording and into a more processed or treated sound design, maybe it’s records being played in a room with a tape recorder catching muffled conversations and glass tinkling, cars driving by in the near-distance. but we can’t let ourselves and our everyday movements be that important to be listenable all the time. if it’s an experiment in ‘sleeping’ style camera-capture, sure, i’ll go along with it, won’t want to listen more than the novelty it grasps at, but if we’re aiming for a deeper listening, a more attuned listening, the environment and our direct surroundings offer a plenitude of dynamic and interesting elements, sometimes it’s best to get out of our way. 

but i’m not a grumpy old man, and i try not to be a generalizer, rarely do, and the more we get of field recordings and more non-musical collage enterprising, the more i can hear when it’s seriously captivating and when it’s a person just sort of fooling about. and i get to be that judge, and both have their place. i’ve tried my hand at and will continue to look for odd stuff when i’m riding the subway or when i’m in a crowd or in my backyard or near water, i’m always ears for trying to tape what’s happening around me. and i know when it won’t translate. i’m so impressed with the musicians and recorders who can get all these great little moments/slices of life, the tiny little fragmentary transactions or vignettes building towards time standing still. and the long form buzzing industrializational machinistic crap all loading up around us all the time, equal parts drone and depression, leaving footprinted matter of philosophical origin/rootedness. and i think i’m coming back around to the everyday mundane, the conversational impasse, hums and air-clatter nothingness, beckett-like emptiness in single stated drift/rift. an existential moving past the sounds and music and likeability, moving into the real and the documented and the almost fictional drama that can turn into. has to have a place.

the surprise, having things unfold in a realer time, out of nowhere, things emerging and fading away into the taped-over past, life moving along with the gears and wheels and digitalization of recording the now, waiting patiently for something to appear and waiting patiently to have nothing be the chair in the center of the room with the bulbs and windows sending out hazey and tick-tocking frequency. the house settles and the furnace flames. the return of the long takes. you don’t need to be a ‘musician’ to go out and record. that’s rebellion to the cause right there, the full-on subversion of musicianry is getting started with nothing in mind. bottom center blues. you don’t need that guitar. maybe somewhere right now as i’m thinking/typing someone’s out on a street in busking-time, playing tape recorders and a cellphone filled with voice memos of the world around them. maybe the recording is when they were at that very spot the day before, fucken with our perception of time and how we come to it and how we can change it and adapt it. it’s time under modification. extended technique with the second hands. 

the great diarists of sound are the ones who accumulate libraries and archives of detailed and specific situational geography-like mapping banks. quadrants of days and motions and winds and water levels. like trying to write out all the dreams you remember when you wake up and before you forget, the first real artistic move is getting things put to tape. run the microphones, run the machines, let them roll for long periods of time. you can skip around on play-back (and this ties in with the earlier thought of knowing when to edit and when to know what you have is boring) as the excited listen is a great thing to do with headphones and an open mind. take some notes, like figuring out the first part of the lucid dream, the magic is placing vision and circumstance to the recordings. note-taking is the new score, time-mapping the design. 

one of the great things in life is to just listen, just sit and listen to what’s around and moving and clicking away. take it in. let it all pass by and come anew. find the meditation standing by the passing train with the handhelds in yr grips, arms getting tired while you listen deeper than you ever have before. hearing the slowest of whistles forming underneath the trebled and motoristic thickness in sharp shrapnel-sounding harshness. too close and the whistle gets swallowed up by the sheer weight of it all, too far away and the whistle is the top-end sheen of the brighter tracks squealing along with the occasional horn call-out. catching the catching out. without jumping aboard and turning the audio into novel/book shape. just sit and listen. turn yr body into a part of the device doing the work. but get outside yrself. but if need be, keep yr body and self in humble get-along with the proceedings, be a part of what’s about to take place, but have it be one part of what’s becoming action. blues isn’t just playing or singing an instrument cold to hot, it’s having what builds up and is inside with all the other bullshit from the day to day, everything involved now, heavy shit right beside the boredom of it all, but it all comes out in hollering moon-pointed real-being, it is yrself being put to the test, yrself being put on the line, everything on the table, even if things are being shielded or held back, that’s the you-thing that is the blues, it’s you, nothing more to it. and as much as it’s wholly about you alone, and finding what that you is, it’s about being a part of something much bigger, a spirit flowing through from way long ago and will just blow right by you too into the long-off future. it’s the universe tuning up (or detuning depending on preference) and matching instrument and voice and sound and life and the personal with the moving parts of traditional ecstaticism. 

a history of things being blown open, dimensions crossed, everything bleeding together in perfect story gather colourization. the blues turns into yellows and reds and greens and the action painting is the scattered mind trying to empty and make sense of it all. so blues is life and life is always happening, but it isn’t always blues. there’s a formula in there somewhere, but that takes away from the mystery and the aspirational/apparitional real-nature. nature has the blues if you look long enough. we can create it, or we can let it all flow right by in the eternal river logging the universe’s minutes in a glorious broken stop-watch miracle. but miraculousness is humanity’s way of letting us remember stuff. that people before us, and long before us, worked their damndest away at finding momentary peace. and art and the art of discovery were the guides shaping the notes along the way and they’ve either ended up at the dump or in the water at our feet lipping against every single coast. and long story short, recording any of this won’t mean a blip at anything, and our lives aren’t ever that important to be fully recorded, that’s far too dystopian-novel on that angle, and our collective and individualizing blues are just one short and sweet way of laughing at it all, and the creative act of getting out and seeing what sings (sounds) is sometimes all we’ve got/need when in that moment. the long takes of momentary pause and collection. recollecting invisible and oral traditionary heartsong. maybe we sing it or maybe we play it or maybe we hear it and maybe we record it and maybe we share it and maybe it passes by. we’re open to place and shape and echo, our noise-making sounds/selves are trying to stay free, things coming to and things being sent out, trying to be present/silent to hear it and to match it.

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