Southbank Sonics: Morley And Resonance

Hello You. Welcome to another irregular update from the slightly chaotic life of a South London Sound Artist. And there’s currently quite a bit going on here in ‘the land that Thames forgot’, so I thought I’d best hammer out a quick missive and bring you up to date sharpish.  As well as my usual in-studio activities sparkling my magic professionalism all over various radio programmes, I’m currently teaching two classes at Morley College in Lambeth, on Sound Installation and Creative Field Recording respectively. As you’ll probably have figured out by now, both are subjects very close to my heart, but even I’ve been surprised by some of the discoveries the groups and I have made together so far. For example, have a listen to this re-interpretation of Alvin Lucier’s 1969 work I Am Sitting In A Room, produced with students from the Sound Installation course, using nothing more than the classroom, a PA system and a couple of hand-held digital recorders:

I’ve made resonant frequency pieces numerous times in the past, of course and each one sounded different, but this was certainly the fastest and the most immediately distinctive to date. Not counting the ten minutes I’ve just spent EQ-ing the results, the whole piece came together in well under half an hour. As the classroom was air-conditioned, filled with computers and situated next to a busy road above the Bakerloo line, we guessed afterwards that these factors were what gave it those deep bass tones, which needed to be significantly rolled-off to prevent speaker damage as we went. What gives it the snarling mid-range frequencies is anyone’s guess!

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The Field Recording group has also proved most stimulating (for me, certainly – and my students as well, I hope!), particularly the evening when we went on a Soundwalk around the Waterloo area, armed with various microphones, coil pickups and at least one rather oversized portable reel-to-reel tape recorder – guess who that belonged to?! As ever, carrying clunky recording equipment around on a busy Friday night proved a bit of a faff; but who cares when you discover material like this recording made just under the railway bridge by Lower Marsh? This is being played back at half-speed, but otherwise completely unmolested! Isn’t that wonderful?!

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In other news, it’s’ fundraising time once again at Resonance FM, the greatest community arts radio station in the world and my spiritual home since 2004. Your help and support is needed more than ever in 2018 as the station now needs £100,000 to fund an evacuation of its Borough High Street studios and the seeking out of new premises – by no means an easy task, given the eye-wateringly ridiculous rents currently being charged in the capital. However, Resonance’s army of volunteers, programme makers, engineers and loyal listeners across the globe have never disappointed yet, so I’m confident that they’re in with a good chance of hitting the magic figure. Do please dig deep, folks. Speaking personally, I can think of no other institution that has given so much to the cultural life of London on such a tiny budget, and the world would be a sadder, sorrier place without it – especially in the current climate of cutbacks! 

Details of how to get involved can all be found at http://Fundraiser.Resonance.FM, where you’ll find a programme of live events occurring all this week in various venues across London, as well as an online auction of desirable objects and experiences up for grabs. I’d particularly like to draw your attention to two events at Iklecktik on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th respectively. The former features, amongst other delights, two of my favourite artists in the shape of veteran sound recordist and improviser Max Eastley, and Dan Wilson, the composer and instrument builder whose Misadventures on the Scorn Cycle was one of my favourite LPs of last year.

The latter event is a Club Integral night featuring a number of artists each performing for 13 minutes, including Bob and Roberta Smith’s Apathy Band and my Foggy Self, giving the tape machines their first outing of 2018 (with the exception of Maddalena, who was with me on my aforementioned Morley Soundwalk and appears to have enjoyed it so much that she’s now functioning even less well than before). Hope to see you at one or both – and that no further damage to the machines is incurred, otherwise I’ll be needing to organise a fund-raising programme of my own!

This original work by Bob and Roberta Smith is just one of the man covetable items up for grabs.

Plus there’s Dexter Bentley’s annual marathon ‘Pay As You Go Hello Goodbye Show’, where once again the long-serving denizens of Resonance’s Saturday lunchtime slot auction off airtime at the rate of £10 per minute. At the time of writing there’s still a few slots available on next week’s programme, February 10th, that are yours to spend as you please – perhaps something from your back-catalogue? A poem? An extract from your memoirs?  Whatever you fancy, basically – head to HelloGoodbyeShow.com for details of how to get involved and listen again to part one here.

As for me, I’m hoping to announce some special items of my own to be added to the auction in the coming weeks, but am currently finalising details and so hoping to make an official announcement in the coming days – watch this space. In the meantime, here I am popping up as a guest on the Lucky Cat show, attempting to drum up some fundraising business while eating spicy mushrooms and playing Licorice soul. Thanks again to Zoe and Lina for having me!

 

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