Challenge: Noise Challenge #4: The Soundtrack |

By: Mike


Radian- Subcolors (Chimeric, 2009)

I still am worried about how I would approach this challenge. My first stress evolved around what do I want to listen too for this extended period of time. My mind flew through my music library when I decided I would use Martin Brandlmayr’s electro-acoustic trio Radian. Austrian percussionist/drummer Brandlmayer has been pushing buttons for me since I heard a duet recording with guitarist Martin Siewert and how I travelled through Switzerland with the disc on repeat.

Don’t get me wrong Radian’s release Chimeric, 2009 has been a favourite of mine especially when it pops up on shuffle. I’m always at first taken a back. There is a wondrous beauty to their dis-fragmented sound construction.

The First Play

As I stated above I was familiar with what they do but they seem so fresh everytime I hear their music. So I’m off to a doctor’s appointment and I know this is the time to start this challenge. Public transit and wait times always allow for listening fodder. I’m thinking even before I start listening how do I approach this? I place on my headphones and start off to the streetcar. The project begins. The music starts and the guitar is torn apart, not in a metal way but against the assumptions placed on what you are to do with a guitar. An unamplified strum, clicks and pops of an effects pedal about to be pushed, wait, I’m not supposed to hear that! Then the pedal is pushed and the sound one might expect from a guitar is released. I’m startled, where is the finesse, it sound like a mistake, but as I listen it isn’t a mistake, it is a readymade. Small sounds start to occur, pings maybe bells, processing then Brandlmyer drags a brush across his snare, Crisp, clear and distinct. A Bass drum and there is a rhythm. Wait a rhythm an unlikely character to show up in this escapade. This not a usual tool to be found in their sound kit, I thought.  The rhythm is haunting and infectious.

I want you to know time is not a factor in my listening choices or the sounds I create. So, this was a pleasant surprise. Feedback loops, stretched sounds, processed noises combined with all the wrong sounds scared even more than the initial apprehensions as I have now committed to this soundtrack challenge.

I walk past west end houses all compact, two floors if anything like mine its two bedrooms, possibly a third in the basement. The area in which I live is all paved over. There are few lawns or gardens just driveways. It is a working class neighbourhood. The driveway hold the vehicles needed to work, pickup trucks and mini vans fill the driveways most of the time, but it is midmorning and most have left for work. I reach the bottom of the street and the streetcar arrives promptly. A class of elementary school students is entering the streetcar I have to assume it’s a school trip. I take a seat by the window. There are not many riders and at this point I have listened to Sub Colours a number of times and I’m definitely disappearing, Immersion is almost there. The streetcar starts moving towards my destination.


The Eighth Play

The sounds are mesmerizing as I’m still totally surprised when things appear in the music. It has started to become affectual, shivers run up my spin and at times subtle and unknown noises act as specters and set my arm hairs standing on end. My mind is trying to come up with a concept of how to demonstrate this work of art into a work of art. How can this be my soundtrack and how am I to react? While concern is definitely multiplying my mind starts to escape the fear through an analysis of what I was listening to. How close are the microphones, I swear I can hear the snare drum breathing. Everything you are not to hear is evident. It makes my skin crawl in such a good way. I try to find where everything I coming from, who is creating this symphony of joy. It is intriguing,. I’m so lost in the noise. I am as Deleuze and Guattari call, The Body Without Organs. It’s a location where immersion is so deep that you lose track of time, place and yourself. Fuck, where did that come from, again I’m taken a back by a sound that I have heard now almost countless times and I was caught by surprise. That brush being dragged across the snare drum. So crisp so clean, I can hear every indentation, speck of dust and grain in the drumhead as the snared is caressed. Hints of a drone or is it feedback, it is so subtle quiet like a train travelling by in the distance on a warm summers night. I try to dig deeper, how is it done. I’m in love.

I’m at the first subway station along the streetcars route and everyone is leaving the streetcar. I guess it has been short turned. Time to go back for once it came. So I’m a bit lost. Not physically but so entrenched in the sound running from ear to ear engulfing my brain. I have to remember where I’m going and not let routine become my instinct and walk to the subway. I head over to the eastbound streetcar stop and wait. There is a small line up mainly passengers from my streetcar then I realize the class trip that also was travelling on my streetcar, have disappeared. How did I miss that I was even close to the back exit of the streetcar? Well, the next streetcar boarded us and off I went on another part of my journey. I sat down and bye I was gone. Engulfed in the power of beauty.

Mike Hansen

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