A discussion of Smote Feedback/Toobers and Zots, a performance of experimental sounds

Nick Zammuto and I (Eli Kao) presented a collaborative sound work on September 4th in Brooks-Rogers recital hall. A select audience was present. I forgot to press the record button and we performed our work again the next day. I remembered to press the record button and we eventually transferred the DAT recording to CD. A limited number of bootleg cassette tapes are also circulating, severely undercutting our expected disc sales and making me reconsider buying that big, shiny Beep Grand Settler sport utility.

To those in the audience at the performance: I’ll figure out which of the two of you it was, gaddammit! We conceived our work in discrete sections, and developed material into distinct “pieces”. However the presentation is largely continuous, and the transitions gradual. The first section is an introduction for the ear, a listen at sound on a basic level. The material consists solely of “line noise” created by the slight electrical charge of skin on the instrument end of a .25 iThe second piece is subdivided into a part consisting only of sounds created by bowing our instruments, and a part where Nick continues this and I pluck premeditated patterns that progress toward greater and greater rhythmic subdivision and back again. Both sections use a delay/loop. What do we bow, and what with? Nick bows his electric bass with a pair of pliers and I treat my electric guitar to the backside of a hacksaw. The results are eerie sounds of slightly unstable pitch with little or no “attack” noise. Pitch

materials are improvised and then given more structure for the second part. The latter part is largely an exercise in subdividing a set length of time (the delay time on the loop)

with a minor excursion into the realm of displaced patterns, addition of multiple lines, and the resulting patterns (hear Steve Reich’s Electric CounterThe delay/loop is again employed for the next section, with vastly different results. The materials here consist of live radio broadcast, radio noise, and records played at various

speeds (including negative ones). These materials are molded by Nick, who controls the delay/loop and makes the device do things for which it was never intended, while I select the sounds to send over to Nick. We both have an equalizer with which to manipulate the frequency envelope. I love this section because of the pleasure in catching some glistening phrase from the currents of ephemera on the radio. It is

interesting to experience how the repetition will lend significance to, and make you examine, what is repeated.

We leave the delay/loop behind for the final two pieces. Both the fourth and fifth pieces share a common sound material. Nick had a pre-mixed, pre-recorded piece comprised solely by clicks and pops from records. He scored section we project this recording through PVC tubes of different lengths, which lend pitches, overtones and a general resonance to the non-pitched pops and clicks. We accentuate varying parts of the frequency spectrum during the performance. The piece is an effort at productively combining analog (the tubes, the original record noise) and digital (the sequenced recording). On September 4th and 5th we used a set of 12 or so tubes and 2 microphones, which we would rotate amongst the tubes in improvised order. The numbers of tubes and mics are only limited by equipment and budget. For our September performances I cut a set of 12 tubes to correspond to an octave and the major scale contained withinBridge sound installation on and under the route 2 overpass in North Adams applies the same concept. The Harmonic Bridge uses two metal tubes of different length to tune traffic noise.The last piece uses the same pops and clicks, this time altered drastically

by real-time effects processing. We generate sounds not even remotely recognizable as the original pops and clicks through tinkering with delay times, frequency sweeps, feedback loops, flipping the sounds backwards, and whatever else is possible. I feel like a little kid playing in the sandbox when we do this section. It is a different species of improvisation, where the raw material is pre-recorded aOur sound performance, Smote Feedbag/Toobers and Zots, is an sonic experiment and any future collaboration will no doubt change along with the available equipment, techniques, and our own evolving ideas about organizing sound.