splitting bits, closing loops: sound on sound


this compilation was related to an issue of the leonardo music journal, and is volume 13 of the journal’s CD series.

the disc includes tracks by agf, m. behrens, dat politics, alejandra & aeron, francisco lopez, stephan matheiu, institute fuer feinmotorik, janek schaefer, scanner and stephen vitiello. it was published by EMF and curated by philip sherbourne.

o.t.r.: 6:46

o.t.r. was originally created for an exhibition, and a companion piece was also recorded called s.w.o.t.r. here are some notes about the tracks, written in 2003:

a few years ago, my mother gave me a small stack of 45’s that were her favorites as a kid: chuck berry, the platters, etc. when i began listening to these, it was not only the music that i was attracted to, but to the surface scuffs from repeated listenings and years of wear and tear. for o.t.r. & s.w.o.t.r. i used a recording of ‘over the rainbow’ by the dimensions as my source material. what you are hearing are the processed sounds of the surface noise at the beginning and end of the record – along with some of the first and last notes. i was inspired by the noise as a kind of physical history of the object. the experience of listening to a vinyl record is not only a durational experience but a physical experience as well (for the action of placing the needle on the record in the beginning and picking it up at the end is a kind of performative moment.)

in these pieces, i wanted to explore the unintentional sounds that frame a song on a 7” record – to emphasize the sounds of the object’s surface during the ‘before-song’ and the ‘after-song’.  in the final seconds, when the needle is trapped into a rhythm is born out of a locked groove, the clicks begin a process of disintegration, where the memory of a just listened to song begins to decay beneath the constant clicks.

like the aging process of a human being’s surface,  a well played piece of vinyl is generally also peppered with wrinkles and scars in the form of scratches, scrapes, chips, and detritus. these soundings, caused by mishandling (or over-handling) begin to transform the object’s surface into a new persona – a kind of “second face” as if a new one was built upon the old one (like an episode of the twilight zone, where someone places a mask upon their face and when they take it off the face has somehow changed).  in the case of a 7” record, too much handling transforms a song into a series of disturbances and interruptions. nonetheless, somewhere beneath the unintended noise the song still exists (although covered in dust).

as i listen to the needle trapped within the final groove, the quiet repetitive clicks are not only lilting, and comforting, but are the exact same clicks my mother would’ve heard as she fell asleep listening to one of her favorite records. as she sleeps, her ears absorb the minimalist rhythmic sound of the needle stuck in the last groove as if a lullaby – endlessly circling the record label until morning…