feedback Tag

William Basinski @ Pop Montreal

September 15th, 2017 – 17h POP Box (3450 St Urbain, Montreal)

In the context of this year’s Pop Montreal Festival Symposium, I have been invited to engage in a public conversation with avant-garde composer William Basinski .

Click here for more information on the Pop Symposium, taking place September 14-17, 2017.

Creator of the widely acclaimed album set Disintegration Loops (2002), Basinski is an intuitive composer of ambient electronic music who works work magnetic tape loops to access dreamlike acoustic spaces.  He once described himself as investing incredible amounts of meditative energy towards improvisation and locating the “timeless, amniotic bubble” of sound one could float within. A bubble is an apt metaphor for these sounds: expansive, swirling voids that physically emanate from thin slips of magnetic tape.

Among other topics, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to speak with Basinski about the physicality of sound, both in the sound producing bodies (the magnetic devices he charms into circles and feedback-song) and the receptive media bodies (us leaky humans).

Take a listen below to Basinski’s soundcloud account in order to experience his processes in tape loop and delay systems, found sounds, feedback, and shortwave radio static.

Echo Grey

Echo Grey is a composition for four voices, feedback musical instruments, and tape part (which features the sounds of a broken image file).  World premiere at Vancouver New Music with Andrea Young, Marina Hasselberg, Sharon Chohi Kim, Micaela Tobin, Michael Day, Braden Diotte, and Erin Gee in November 2016. It has also been performed at Open Space Gallery (Victoria), and Neworks (Calgary).

The mythological character Echo exists only as a shade, a reflection or bounce. Movement between words or utterance, the Echo’s mythological voice exceeds the signal itself and speaks to a deeper engagement with materiality.  In Echo Grey, I composed a series of vocal patterns that emerge directly with breath as raw material, the movement of intake and exhalation made audible through mechanistic patterns that are impossible to perform perfectly. The choir’s collective attempt at mechanistically engaging with an impossible repetition eventually negates the signal: all that is left is the lungs and vocal vibrations of the individual who gasps, cries in defeat, and whoops in ecstasy.  These human voices are simultaneously punctuated by the feedback of microphone and amplified instruments, and a tape track composed through process – a bouncing of data back and forth between visual and aural softwares that eventually results in nothing but glitched statements.  This tape track is analogous to the squealing proximity of the sender to the receiver in the scored feedback parts, which is analogous to the back and forth of the breath of the singers as they perform.  The colour grey in the work’s title is inspired by the back and forth motion of a 2HB pencil stroking endlessly across an empty pad of paper.

 

BodyRadio

(2011)

Four-part score for electronic voices in organic bodies debuted as part of New Adventure in Sound Art’s Deep Wireless Festival of Transmission Art, Toronto, Canada

Body Radio is a composition for four performers that reverses the interiority/exteriority of a radio, which is a human voice in an electronic body. Small wireless microphones are placed directly in the mouths of the performers, who are each facing a guitar amplifier. The performers control the sensitivity of both the amplifier’s receiving function and the microphone’s sending function in accordance with the score. The final sounds are a combination of inner mouth noises, breathing, and varying pitches feedback controlled by the opening and closing of mouths.