a Nowhere Mountain project
January was a site-specific film projection created to be thematic, moving wallpaper.
With a soundtrack.
Created for the AIR exhibit at SOHA Gallery in St. Louis
This is the third video project now that I’ve done with Dave Madden, who makes music under various aliases. He’s a musical mad scientist and it’s always exciting to hear what he comes up with after I send him the visuals. The music he sends back is always thoughtful and amazing and never what I would expect.
His soundtrack to January is no exception, it’s perfect.
about the music
by Dave Madden
In 1998, I attended a concert of traditional Tibetan music. There is
a great deal of staccato sounds, pauses, blasts of energy and patience
involved. During my late undergraduate days, a professor of mine
invited me to help perform one of his pieces. My role: tap my fingers
on a china bowl to simulate an echo. That sound and (tactile) feeling
always stuck with me. Flash forward a few years when a yoga teacher
stroked an enormous ceramic singing bowl until the tone completely
filled the room. This all lead to an obsession with music that either
is or sounds controlled by randomness (i.e. wind chimes, water
dripping from a roof) and physical space.
So, eleven years ago, I squatted down for an hour in the aisle of a
Restoration Hardware and picked out seven thick, glass vases based on
their pitch; each produces a tone in the pentatonic scale. I have
bowed these, knocked on them with knuckles, hit them with mallets, put
a microphone in them to make wild feedback, and thought, this year,
that it's time to retire them. On my way to donate them to Good Will,
I made it as far as the front room before repenting of my decision.
There are still plenty of projects in them!
Over the years, I have augmented these guys with other vases, junk
percussion I find on the street, more professional gongs and less
professional cast iron pan lids. Whenever I go into my studio, all
this stuff is staring at me, like "so...is it our turn?"
Like I said, I always have that sound of the china bowl in my head.
When I saw Mark's movie, I couldn't hear anything else but the gentle
plod of fingers on glass; Mark will recall the iPhone demo I sent to
him right after he sent over the film. I started with that and built
out an ensemble of vases, gongs, cymbals of various sizes, some old
field recordings I never used (you can hear that toward the beginning,
where a car drives by in the rain), a guitar recorded on an old
cassette player, a cheap child's bow and my lids mounted on a 2'x4'.
As I have almost always worked solo, I multi-track a lot of recordings
and fling them across my audio like paint - I get all my best happy
accidents that way. I also love the marriage of studio tricks with
crappy recordings, and use a lot of reverb units, pitch bending
devices and software (i.e. Reaktor, Audiomulch) to create depth and
interest. When I'm in my basement studio, none of this seems very
Romantic or mysterious because I can see all the wires and mirrors
behind what I do - and I've been doing it for so long that I'm used to
the labored process. But I think what I did here augments the allure
of Mark's work and it is always exciting to work with him and his "you
should do what you want" approach.
-Dave Madden (aka: nonnon)