Live at ‘Calm & Silence #2’
by Dave Skipper
New track! Background story is below along with a player to listen to it in-article.
- quantity, amount, portion, bulk, required amount
- (Physics) a discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents; an analogous discrete amount of any other physical quantity, such as momentum or electric charge.
- large, sudden, significant
- of, relating to, or employing the principles of quantum mechanics
- a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; the condition of being lost in (pleasant) thought, a daydream
- a fantastic, visionary, fanciful, or impractical idea or theory
- (Music) an instrumental composition of a vague and dreamy character, or suggesting a dreamy or musing state
(Sources: Oxford dictionaries, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, dictionary.com)
Normally I prefer to play live sets through big loud PA systems so that the sounds can have maximum impact at high volume across the whole frequency range. But some venues and some events require alternative approaches and different expectations.
This was one of those occasions.
First clue: the event name was Calm & Silence #2, the second of a new ongoing series of monthly at an odd space in Koenji, Matching Mole. Not time for extreme harsh noise!
Second clue: the space itself functions as a cafe rather than a live venue, with small speakers up in the corners meant for background music rather than for pummelling audiences with forceful soundwaves.
Third clue: unlike most events, this was not performance-by-invitation, and there was no timetable shared beforehand. Rather, artists could self-invite to play at the event, and the whole setup and vibe was geared to maximum informality.
Fourth clue: this time I was one of only three artists, so there was more than ample time for extended set lengths. For noise sets I usually max out at 15-20 minutes, by which time I have said all that I want to. This time I had a full hour to fill, and could even have had longer than that!
Fortunately, this year I have the perfect tool in my modular system to allow me great flexibility and untold potential to stretch out my playing into ambient and gentle experimental territory for extended periods of time. The Make Noise Morphagene simulates and expands the functionality of cassette tape manipulations in digital hardware form. Sounds can be either imported or recorded on the fly (my interest is in pursuing the latter course), and then the resulting files can be slowed down, sped up, reversed, spliced, rearranged, and so on. You can zoom into tiny fragments of sound – grains, which can optionally further overlap with adjacent grains – for endless access to strange new textures and details, which then loop and morph as desired (or not desired!). New recordings can be layered on top, and all manipulations can be captured too, generating dense fabrics and fibrous speckles of sounds of virtually any kind. Inordinately fun!
My set ended after after about 52 minutes, having traversed across several distinct sections. The final 9-minute chunk was especially satisfying, not least because I restrained myself to let the core sound ‘be’ for the full 9 minutes, giving me space to adjust various parameters and subtle modulations to evolve the total soundscape. It is this section that I have uploaded and placed here below.
If you need a descriptive label I guess it’s quiet noise / ambient? But I wasn’t thinking in categories either when playing live or when listening back and editing.
Quantum Reverie. The illusion of self-importance vanishes to a speck of dust. An apparently indivisible slice of time and space is captured and explored like a point in one’s mind. A small grain of sound becomes the basis for a whole multidimensional experience. Space is created to contemplate, ponder, meditate, muse, imagine, and dream. The ghost of dim memories and future yearnings is briefly captured and flutters around in an inverted cage of freedom.
Have a listen, undistracted. Focus – or defocus – with your headphones on. What do you see, hear, feel, remember, imagine, desire? Music gives space for the soul to reveal some of its workings and contents; what is your Quantum Reverie?
(Note: you’ll miss the low-end if you compromise listening through laptop/phone speakers, get your headphones/earphones out and immerse!)
Here was my setup for the gig:
And an action shot!