the assemblage IS the story
In an ongoing effort to make my art and my life as close together as possible, like always, during the month of October 2018 I carried with me at all times in my pocket one of four Sony ICD-PX470 stereo digital dictaphones and recorded sounds of my day to day life.
I recorded sounds while walking my dog Stanley (including our encounters with human neighbors, squirrels, crows, and other dogs; airplanes and helicopters overhead, automobile traffic including emergency vehicles), miscellaneous sounds from my job, restaurants, grocery stores. I also recorded spontaneous and random thoughts, reflections on and readings from books and articles, plus emails I had sent to Leslie Singer. I also recorded interactions with family members.
I held two Apartment Music shows during the month of October, and I recorded sounds before and after the shows, as well as in-between the performances. On October 25th two of my nephews arrived for an 8-day stay with my brother Mark, Stanley and I. During those days we spent a lot of time at my mom and dad's house, because Mark and his sons were busy constructing the yearly McGee Halloween Extravaganza. Mark transforms my parents' yard into a haunted graveyard. This year's theme was Freak Show. Lumen K joined the project as a participant, playing the part of a fortune teller. I made numerous recordings on Halloween night, which included the sounds of Halloween trick or treaters getting the bejezus scared out of them! Plus Lumen and I played iPhone synth and voice-changing apps through belt-clip amplifiers. Costumed in a black cloak with a hood I played the Korg Monotron Delay battery-operated analog synth and helped create a spooky ambience to the Freak Show.
Early on the morning of November 1st I connected the four dictaphones to a Behringer mixer and set all four on continuous playback, the mix of which I captured in a direct transcription as the event unfolded. All of the recordings that I had made during the month of October assembled themselves into simultaneously juxtaposed layered constructions that I hope would make Richard Hülsenbeck proud. I started out with no preconceived ideas, no story I wanted to tell. Letting the assemblage happen IS the story you hear here. Afterwards I divided the 75-minute assemblage into six parts for the listener's convenience to give them access points, and slapped the six parts upside the head with titles.
Most artists with any amount of good sense ALWAYS maintain a cultish MYSTERY about how they create their art. It would be anathema to many people I know to describe in this much detail how they did what they did to make their artistic creations. With me it's different. The mystery comes not from me withholding info on how I did what I did to get these results, but from your perceptions as a listener as you listen to the assemblage reveal itself to you. You create it as you listen. It is my greatest wish that these assemblages will bring you lots of amusement, happiness and fun as you experience the month of October along with me. Art like life, lifelike art.
Very enjoyable, as usual! Wondering how you like the digital recorders as compared to the old microcassette recorders, and if you might comment on your reasons for switching.
William, excellent question. For the last several years my microcassette recorder model of choice was the Sony M-470. It possesses a wider frequency response range than just about any other handheld microcassette recorder, and possesses a high degree of reliability. At one time I had four of them in use and operation. Now only one still functions. I faced the reality that to keep on replacing the M-470s as they died would eventually become hideously expensive. I had a source on eBay that was selling them as New/Refurbished for about $120. No manufacturer is making new recorders or tapes, so we are faced with a finite supply of gear and media. Also, quite frankly, I got tired of not being able to record bass sounds and high-pitched sounds. I did a lot of research into digital dictaphones. I tried out two different manufacturers and models, but didn't like either. Eventually I discovered the Sony ICD-PX470. Note how similar the model number is to my beloved M-470 microcassette recorders. I have found the ICD-PX470 to be the perfect recording instrument for my needs. It costs only about $50 and can hold more than five hours of stereo WAV files on the onboard memory. It is easy to use, once one thoroughly reads the operation manual! It gives you multiple options for file format (I always use WAV), microphone sensitivity, and more, and it is super easy to drag and drop files to a desktop computer. I now own four of them! The recordings it makes are super crisp! The onboard stereo microphone does a great job of capturing small and subtle sounds. Plus it does a great job of realistically recording a wide range of sounds in daily life. The ICD-PX470 is smaller and lighter than a microcassette recorder. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to transition away from cassette and microcassette.
Thanks for the info, Hal! I wanted to ask you about this because I have a small pile of semi-functional and non-functional microcassette recorders in my studio which I lament the loss of. I hate buying stuff online and finding blank microcassettes locally was getting to be impossible as well. So...it seems the end of an era! Too bad, but I'm glad to hear there is a digital device which is a suitable replacement. I guess most people would just use their smart phones these days. I don't have one. Not because I'm old and resistant to technology. I love technology! I'm just really poor and smart phones and associated plans are expensive. I do have a small android tablet which I've used for field recordings but it's not as convenient, or fun, as a dictaphone. I might look into getting one of the ICD-PX470 devices.
William, in addition to using the ICD-PX470 for field recordings I use them to record live shows. I recorded my two most recent Apartment Music shows with a PX-470 with good results.
I have also lamented the scarcity of cassette recorders (micro or otherwise) in local second-hand shops. Lately a good majority of my recordings have been done on my cell phone. I've got that Sony ICD-PX470 recorder on my Christmas wishlist for sure.
I like your approach to mystery. Each listener will have a different experience of the tape. Since the human mind focuses on one thing at a time, each listener will focus on different sequences of sounds. Each listening will be different. One cannot step into the same river twice.
Hal, the assemblage Is the story is an incredible opera of epic proportions beautifully condensed and synthesized into a breathtaking 75 minute joyride. I’m so very honored that In My Blood got included. I feel like Bob Dylan when Jimi Hendrix covered All Along the Watchtower.
Thank you for the kudos, Leslie Singer!
Listening while I ride a bike. I can not describe the experience with words!
Don’t fall off your bike!
Furthermore, I H-A-T-E bikes, and skateboards and golf carts!
Hahahahahaha. Do not worry Dear Stanley. I was on a stationary bicycle (although I must confess that I have fallen on some occasion, I must also confess that I practiced skateboarding in my youth). Say hello to Hal from my part!
Adam J Naworal
Can't wait to hear this!
Leave a Reply.