CNV43 | 28.10.2007
01 . Live Sleep
ALL FILES (Download)
I've contact mic'd the upstairs bedrooms (while the rest of the family was sleeping) and various parts of the house, including the windows/backyard.
the idea was to do a live, real-time mix, processing the sounds of the sleeping family/house, and gradually separating/ lifting off...first to outdoor sounds, then to local radio sounds, longwave...mediumwave...shortwave....then finally to a live radiotelescope feed.
This idea of a gradual takeoff from a sleeping bed to deep space is based on a childhood fantasy of mine: that my bedroom would separate from the rest of the house and blast off into the cosmos when i was sleeping...a recent re-discovery of some of harris burdick's dreamlike magical-realist drawings provided the final impetus for the piece.
liner notes by Michael Trommer
Michael Trommer presents one long piece of static and noise that originates from the sounds inside his house, the immediate outside and then into deep space. It's noise music but with controlled volumes and pitches. An interesting work from a skilled composer.
Help!! a concept album!! Trommer had a thought, a vision; constructed a setup with which he might capture it, built it and let the process unfold. That's concept art (in a nutshell, if you want to know it all read [ this text ] by Sol LeWitt). In the past decades we have seen many, many, many conceptual performances going haywire. So, I am always a bit sceptical about setups like this one.
What was that thought, again? The liner notes: "The idea was to do a live, real-time mix, processing the sounds of the sleeping family/house, and gradually separating/ lifting off...first to outdoor sounds, then to local radio sounds, longwave...mediumwave...shortwave....then finally to a live radiotelescope feed." And how did Trommer proceed? Liner notes: "I've contact mic'd the upstairs bedrooms (while the rest of the family was sleeping) and various parts of the house, including the windows/backyard."
The conceptual journey takes 57 minutes. We start with a lot of hissy frequencies with a soft crackle in their midst. The hiss is a constant in the early parts of this work but Trommer fades lower frequencies and more sharply pitched higher frequencies in and out and thus creates something that at first hearing isn't that interesting. Gradual changes make me sleepy and gradually changing recordings of sleeping people even more. But after some 15 minutes the sounds that are picked take a sharp turn, when the incoming sounds move from the sleeping inside world to (as I suspect) nightly outside world. The static and stationary hiss remains but it sounds as if a train grinds to a halt and after a few minutes we hear bell-like sounds keep ringing for a while while at another tempo downward glissandi move on. At 24 minutes another change: the hiss is partly subdued, the higher frequencies dulled. At 26 minutes: voices... and again a train?... with other bells... I think I hear loops; yes, definitely. The sounds become more edited, not just contact mics picking things up.
At 30 minutes we are away on a different journey. The sounds are no longer hissy or zoomy but a series of quickly repeating clicks/bells fades in and out, left and right. When sounds are added, they are reverberated. Somehow reverberated sounds are imprinted in our brains as the audio iconographs of sounds from space. In my brain anyway. Angelic sounds, reverberated (large hall or deep space setting) are accompanied by synth bubblings, reverberated (small space pod setting). Trommer definitely has left his contact mics alone, I guess. We are now listening to adorned radiotelescope feeds. The angelic voices have disappeared.
Onwards the composition, (because on afterthought it is not really a concept work but definitely a composed one) the work consists of hiss, the sound of quasars rattling, synthmumbling, static. This could have been a terribly noisy racket but Trommer keeps things in check. He concentrates on the right balance of high and low frequency sounds and does so quite successfully. I don't know if I understand exactly what he means with 'live sleep' (the title) because it is not 'live' at all and we did not hear anyone asleep. I guess that's a personal association.
[ Jos Smolders ]
Childhood fantasies are among the most private things in the world. It is therefore a most bewildering sensation, when you find out someone else has been having the same dream. “This idea of a gradual takeoff from a sleeping bed to deep space is based on a childhood fantasy of mine:”, Michael Trommer says, “that my bedroom would separate from the rest of the house and blast off into the cosmos when I was sleeping.” Oddly, I thought of the very same thing when I was little, imagining my room to be caught inside a giant bubble, which would float silently through space. While many, many years made me all but forget this incredibly intense picture, Trommer came across some of “harris burdick's dreamlike magical-realist drawings” and decided he wanted to turn them into a musical reality. “Live Sleep” on Con-V is the result of this endeavour. To achieve an outcome as close to a “possible” (i.e. scientifically imagineable) event, he placed contact mics all over the house as well as the backyard, while everyone was sleeping. Part of the gradual transformation on “Live Sleep” is therefore organic, while the other stems from the starry-eyed cells of the composer’s imagination. To be sure, this is a trip not easily forgotten and a great example of what drone music is capable of. From the thick, breathing wall of sound that opens the action, to the sweet, cricket-like hummings of the middle section and the scraping noises of the finale, this almost an hour long spheroscape barely touches the outer rim of consciousness. It all ends with a live radiotelescope feed, which doesn’t sound alien at all. Whether or not this feeling of familiarity and security is as universal as childhood fantasies remains to be seen, though.
[ Tobias Fischer ]
CON-V EDITION | 2015