Tag: Loz Colbert

Put The Needle On The Record #20 : Los Angeles : 14102019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city.
Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary: All the sounds I heard and found while doing the study of the venue with Cruel Diagonals: clanking chains, slamming doors, creaking doors, ringing metal protective fence sections. Imagining electro-magnetic sounds (I didn’t have headphones) . The sound of the gear being loaded up the aluminium ramp during the ‘get in’. The humming sound of the fridge in our dressing room. The reasurring sounds of humanity, the clash and bang of catering, having breakfast at a cafe, earlier in the day. 

This luggage bag recording was made after the show at the Teragram Ballroom on 14102019. I am walking from the tourbus, around the venue and back. It is late at night, dark, you can hear some chatting from some of the audience still loitering around the venue. This outside ambience is subdued in contrast to the sounds during the day that myself and L.A.-based vocalist / field recordist Megan Mitchell (aka ‘Cruel Diagonals’) spent a few hours recording. We used hand-held recorders, contact mics, electromagnetic coil microphones and standing microphones to explore the sounds around the venue, inside and out. We captured the ‘load-in’ at the back of the venue, as well as boiler rooms, kitchen, a deserted entrance hall and IT cabling rooms at the front. As part of an ‘architecture and sound’ project we were looking to find the acoustic, electromagnetic ‘soul’ of the venue at that point in time. Hopefully Megan and I will do a collaborative piece with these sounds at some point. In any case we both came away with a wealth of sounds from the study. It was a fantastic day to be thinking about and exploring ‘non-musical’ (or non-band created) sound in a music venue.

Put The Needle On The Record #19 : San Francisco : 10112019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city.

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary 10112019: San Francisco. Had to be the walk from hotel to venue. sounds of vagrants, ‘mad’ people ranting to themselves. One throws a grim looking shoe at a passing colleague, draws blood, the colleague pleads “why you do that for?” Rolling luggage in a long walk back from the day room. But also from earlier in the day: an air show – the sound of jets, large and small, as we were running through crowds alongside a park

In this recording, note a few seconds of the delicate sound as we exit motel environment, then we hit the ‘real’ street. There is an early pause in the recording to check my wind cover (there was a fairly gentle breeze that day) and eventually I lose my wind cover somewhere along this street. Heavy grooves in the street on this recording as we trawled through and past many drug addicts and tramps. People seemingly living outside of society and existing in its dregs, with no-one looking out for them. While waiting to cross the street one tramp throws a shoe at someone walking past – and draws blood on her face? The victim calls out “What are you doing?”, while the other rants incoherently at her. Do they know each other? Who knows what was taking place. It seems they are somehow connected, and the pedestrian lights change so we walk on. You hear some car horns, some car engines, snatches of music playing from shops…I remember rolling over some metal grids that covered access to some basement windows, there were many manhole covers and metal panels, and of course the streets themselves which seemed ‘heavy’. This recording is a document of most of the trip back from the day room to the gig venue (The Regency Ballroom). A bonus section of video below covers the last two minutes of the journey, that bring us up to the venue.

A videoed section of Stutter Street, San Francisco.

Put The Needle On The Record #17 (Part #2) : Seattle : Image and imagined sound

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city.

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

We’ve been thinking about styli, architecture, and sound. We’ve been thinking of the city as a record, the world as a playable ‘record’ – so it seems perfect to present this image I came across in a dressing room Seattle. Imagine: what would this recording sound like?

Track 2: Mike Klay (screen print, 2009)

In Mike Klay’s image, a screen print titled ‘Track 2’, the famous landmark of the Space Needle is taken as a literal needle. ‘Needle’ of course as we know is a homonym that also signifies ‘stylus’ in popular culture. Mike playfully imagines the Space Needle as a giant stylus, playing a giant record (or a shrunk Space Needle playing an actual record). If I was looking for an image to feed into my abstract thoughts of needles, styli, city sounds, architecture, landscape and playing the city at the time – then this would be it. It is also worth noting the connection Mike places between landscape and soundscape. The topographic physical landscape is directly above what could be waveforms of sound, or indeed other form of the landscape: grass, trees… It is a beautiful synaesthetic puzzle of architectonic and musical slippage, visual and textural puns.

This image is a great metaphor for some of the emphasis I am placing on exploring sound, architecture, the built environment, and potential styli for the sounding of each. Next we are off to Portland.



Put The Needle On The Record #16 : Vancouver : 07102019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city.

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary that day 07102019: Vancouver. Listened to the sound of the drums sound checking… the natural ‘acoustic’ version of the drum kit is so different to the amplified version, with its booming, boosted frequencies that cut across and fill the room, the drums sound so elastic and bouncy, they sound sonorous and huge once amplified. I remember the muted sound of the lobby I sat in to find somewhere to read a family message quietly. It was the lobby of a car park or shopping centre (you take what you can get)…

07102019 Vancouver

From a street-based perspective: how was Canada different to America? Without thinking too deeply: cleaner, more tidy, less devastated and less ravaged. Also much neater in terms of construction approaches, and appearance. It wasn’t all perfect, but there were just hints of what I can only call a more ‘European’ mentality, with slightly more appealing street materials from which to build. Is this because of distant Anglo/Franco imperial influence? What even is that influence? Wasn’t that influence itself a complex mixture of borrowed stolen and controversial aesthetics? Can these be felt through the streets through history, over the ages..? What effect do key events of the past echo in the construction of cities, publics spaces, and in the demeanour of the people…? How far back does this go, and can it ever be erased? Can we hear it just by listening? Can we see it just by looking? Or is it a mixture of both, and ‘sensing’ the cultural rhythms of the past…

The back of the venue connected to an unnamed alleyway that – starting at Robson Street – seemed to stretch for miles
Glanville Street, Vancouver

Put The Needle On The Record #9 : Nashville : 26092019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary 26092019: Turned up early and got coffee in a diner. The luggage bag recording was of me going to the day room, walking up the hill. I’ve been experimenting with video here and I want people to be able to see the surfaces they are listening to, I think this is best… in some ways it has to be there as a visual thing. The patterns on the road, the objects etc.. and their relationship to the sound and story.. they all relate.

Luggage bag recording: Nashville street 26092019

Arriving and being in a historical place of such ‘traditional’ musical heritage, I made field recordings of the pavement – or ‘sidewalk’ as it is known. Yet in some ways this is the most dynamic form of reportage I could do – to get up close to the material, the story, the real life, as it is now. What is the sound of the street, when you play it like a record? And which musicians have walked these streets I am trawling along now? What state were they in? Where were there careers heading, pulling back from? Nashville is one of the main centres of musical activity and industry in the USA, but also has the most colleges and universities after NYC/Boston, and it is known for its healthcare. What characters have walked these streets in the past? Students, academics, vagrants… How has Nashville and its network of streets been shaped – if at all – by its own musical history and musical ‘legend’ (and legends)? If anything ‘Nashville’, and the idea of a music city lives above the streets as a romantic idea, not on them. What lies on the streets is more the truth of the matter: pavement forms created by municipal protocols and economic constraints; impacted with social and societal encounters leaving traces such as dried bubble gum, spilt drinks of various consistencies, litter, scratches, dents… devastation and entropy lie waiting on the outskirts of what is clear to see..

Outside the venue, the streets look fairly normal. But I wonder what dramas have taken place here? At what times?
Facing the direction of the gear being loaded in.
The legend of Nashville is ‘above’ rather than ‘on’ the streets…

Put The Needle On The Record #7 : Washington DC : 22092019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary 22092019: A hot day: 32-37 degrees C. Slabs (concrete sections) are much closer together. Is Washington ‘more refined’ than Detroit? Some variations on the street such as manhole covers and ventilation grilles. Two pedestrian stops to cross the road. I took a luggage bag walk and saw how the hot pavement slabs (well actually concrete sections like in other towns) were closer together. Some metal grids like the ones I saw in Times Square were there, which cause a dense and full sound like a drum roll. Heard today, the sound of the water in the shower, limpid, unimpressive. And the sound of my luggage bag rolling into and out of the dressing room. 

Luggage bag recording: 5th St, North West, Washington DC 22092019

What could be said of the street surfaces I have seen so far? Some have felt very impersonal and some have felt characterful; some have felt dangerous and some have felt safe; but there is always a story if you have a look and a listen… ‘Listening’ to sounds, but also to the different streams of data and information is a form of Rhythmanalysis. In Detroit, Brooklyn, and Washington the streets I walked were impersonal. What factors lead to this? Is it just financial concerns, practical concerns, or social? Is it historic or technological factors that shape the streets and the experience of walking them? Or, was it just the location of the venue I find myself near? Is my experience being directed by different approaches to music, and to the location of live venues in the city? Venues can be central to culture and invited into urban planning, or they can be pushed away from it. Why was Boston (a University Town) more human and socially responsive somehow? Different communities respond in different ways to street perspectives. What factors shaped those responses, those communities..?

Out on a luggage bag walk in Washington DC 22092019

Put The Needle On The Record #5 : Boston : 20092019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

Boston 20092019


From my sound diary 20092019: “My rolling luggage on the driveway to the bus. Big case, smooth rolling sound, small case, a heavier gritty sound. The silence of the bus with no-one in in. Now back to the grey-er white noise and rumble of moving on the road. Why is this sound more boring? How could I find the sound of bus travel interesting and fascinating and delicious now, like a meal to be savoured ? The sound of the juice dispenser at breakfast, industrial, empty, the soulless delivery of liquid refreshment….”

On arrival in Boston the pavement surface was noticeably more intricate compared to both Detroit and Montreal. It was made up of a smaller size of paving slab, and the street ‘space’ was made up of a mixture of sandstone paving slabs and parquet tiles to delineate different areas. I found this more appealing. We are definitely not in Europe, but the floor reflected culture and multiple social usage. The rhythm is more active and steady as the bag rolls over the slabs, which are equally spaced. The faster rhythms you hear are the parquet tiles. Overall the floor surface was far more delicate, defined, there were different (more expensive) choices of colour and texture, and attempts to make what might be perceived as interesting or beautiful shapes. The way that the floor space is broken up into different ‘areas’ is of note, in comparison to Detroit specifically. Perhaps people and their surroundings, their different uses of street space are catered for (e.g. bicycles, skateboards, electric scooters), and one could pay attention to even the appearance of the street surface. I then find we are in a University town. As I walk past Boston University it makes sense: there is a sense of culture to this street paving. This is a younger environment, it is accepted that the street will be purposed in different ways; maybe the community of individuals and voices fits the unfolding street array…

Luggage bag recording: Pleasant Street, Boston 20092019

Put The Needle On The Record #2 : Chicago : Riot Festival 15092019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary 15092019:

“The sound of the buggy as I got moved around, the distant sounds of festival music, bassy, incoherent. Walking through the crowd, and the man shouting at the top of his voice literally to people to back off. The difference between side of stage and in front of stage. The different mixes and sounds of the bands playing as I moved around of course.”

Riot Festival took place at Douglas Park, Chicago on 15th Sept 2019. Below is the shortest sound clip in this series, but it is the first taste of the luggage bag on American soil – and not. The ‘soil’ of an outdoor festival is usually covered with metal grids or ‘ground mats’ in the busiest areas such as walkways for crew and professionals working backstage. I managed to capture some of this, while in transit.

15092019

Put The Needle On The Record #1

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert.

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. Comparisons beg to be drawn between cities, districts, and individual streets with their unique surfaces: such as St Aldate’s, Oxford; Rui Frei, Sao Paulo; East Congress Street, Detroit; Shibuya-Ku, Japan; and Stutter Street, San Francisco. Visual patterns of the manifestations of these streets are recorded also as they appear as images, and sometimes scrolling in movement, as video footage. Rather like the relationship between music, history, and fashion, luggage bag recordings explore the relationship between street, sound, and architecture in passing and in movement alongside traditional and emerging walking practice theory (e.g. Wunderlich, 2008; Edensor, 2010; Springgay & Truman, 2017).

At the same time I have been using Lefebvre’s notion of rhythmanalysis as a mode of enquiry, as a way of analysing these luggage bag recordings, as indeed it fuelled my curiosity for making them. With its evocation of both analytical (cerebral) and sensory (bodily) modes, rhythmanalysis offers a fresh perspective for the experience of, and the study of, sound in architecture and the urban built environment: rhythmanalysis presents itself as a fascinating mode of analysis for all field recording practices.

From my sound diary 14092019:

On the road to Detroit 14092019

“In general the bus has the drone of rubber fast over tarmac, gladly muted by sound proofing. I wonder if on different days, at different speeds, the drone will have different pitches, so if you recorded each of them, you could almost construct the entire frequency range of a keyboard made up of different days.”

I’m starting this collection of wheeled luggage recordings with the sound of the tourbus hurtling across American tarmac, from 15th September 2019. It was during the first few days of the tour, I was up early, there was no-one about so I recorded some sound of the bus in motion. It can be hard to stand up on a moving bus, so the recording device gets knocked about (as do I) trying to find a central spot to capture the sound. You are in a large, heavy vehicle that reverberates with the sound of its own movement through air, the terrain below, and of course its own engine, as well as the air conditioning fans and any other devices that happen to be switched on. In the end I give up and sit down. At this point you begin to hear the blast of the air conditioning, as to sit down and relax means to come right up against the vents which are positioned directly below the main side windows. I put this recording up here first in the series because soon we are to come into direct contact with the streets of America on a one-to-one basis. Here, at this point, wheels are indeed rolling over the surface of American freeways, roads and the built environment of the particular state we are travelling through and its connections. But we are rolling at high speed, with no real connection with the exterior other than through a slowly morphing vista of landscape, and an occasional reminder of the bumpy surface. Soon we will be walking, experiencing the streets as they unfold step by step like scrolls.

On the Road to Detroit 140919