Tag: street sound

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 #18 : Portland : 10092019

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 10092019: The striking difference in sound between running outside, across the bridge, and the close nicotine muggy silence of the motel room. The cumbersome sound of dragging my luggage bag in and out of the building up and down stairs, as I had forgotten things! Smooth concrete mainly. A homeless guy listening to something like radio on what seemed to be a smart phone of some kind. Then the grateful quiet of a spare dressing room when I needed it. Doors opening & closing. 

The luggage bag recording today is pretty smooth. In what felt like mostly a concrete environment I remember Portland on that day as bright piercing sun, open spaces, and an often brash, bold and convenient simplicity to life. Like many American cities: everything was ‘there’ – its just in daily life you don’t question what is behind ‘there’ or why… maybe you’re not supposed to, but probably this is the most interesting part. The single motel room we used for showers was near a bridge and river, which I ran along earlier that day.

Russel Street, Portland.

As a partner to the audio recording above, the visual and conceptual rhythms are appealing to me in the photograph below. As well as the sounds that were taking place at the time we might also in this ‘moment’ spot the architectural rhythms of the girder structure of the bridge, with cross-hatching bars that create larger beams, that cross over each other linking even larger sections. There is the visual pattern of the shadows of these structures on the floor – shapes stretched out and disjointed and in constant flux as the diurnal rhythmic movement of the sun above shapes them throughout the day. Although they ultimately both move in the same direction, the shadows will also move in direct opposition to the placement of the sun, so there is the ‘dance’ of this. There were of course also the audible rhythms of car tyres on tarmac, the crescendo and decrescendo of passing vehicles, the rhythm of the city in the back ground while a tree on the right grows ever so slowly, and shifting gently in the wind…

NW Broadway bridge, 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 #15 : Boulder Colorado : 04102019

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 04102019: Boulder, the sound of the wind in the trees, finally! There has been a distinct lack of the sensation of seasons, only glaring persistent heat, until now. In the evening of today, a marching and dancing band in the public square, the tuned bass drums made a great watery sound; the snare drummers were excellent and highly choreographed…

Street-wise, Boulder was more dainty, neat and connected overall. The street surface was mainly small slabs and neat tiles. The luggage bag clacks along happily with regular, unbroken and repetitive sections. We were based more directly in the city centre for this concert, and an acceptance of ‘culture’ seemed to shine out here and be an appreciated jewel in the community, as the photo below shows, and as opposed to the somewhat sleazy sub-cultural status of the locations where bands like ours might play in Austin and Dallas. There was a community feeling here, there were student villages and parks. Most notably for me here: a gust of wind or two, and a cool freshness in the air – finally the suggestion of a season – autumn, fall. We had previously been told we don’t really have any seasons in Texas anymore … due to global warming…

04102020 first hint of Fall; wheels are crisp on the streets of Boulder
04102020 Outside the Boulder Theatre
04062020 Pavement
04062020 side street, Boulder; Why are these images the ones hidden from sight?
04102020 And why not? Different rhythms on the streets

Put The Needle On The Record #14 : Dallas : 02102019

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 02102019: Running earlier in the day I remember the sound of myself panting in the heat, my footsteps getting slower as I ran in the midday Texan sun. The sound of Elm street where the venue was, in which later on were lively street people and noisy bar music drifting out through open doors…

If Austin was lively for the locals, then Dallas was a lot louder overall. I’m glad to have made this recording during the night on the street outside the venue after the gig. There’s plenty of local ambience in the recording. Listen out for pool bars, pimped up cars and bikes, some fairly deep grooves in the street… Snatch of dialogue at the end:

“Where you goin…? You gotta sit down man…

No images or videos of the street today, just the sound.

Wheeled luggage on Elm Street, Dallas 02102019

Put The Needle On The Record #13 : Austin : 01102019

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.

On this day, I couldn’t quite believe the amount of life that was going on… but ‘low life‘. I hadn’t realised how run down Austin was where we were: vagrants, homeless, wandering the streets, helpless in many ways, and somehow abandoned. We were warned in the morning at breakfast by a local “don’t go beyond 6th Street..” Our venue was on 10th. It wasn’t the safest place to be. I remember rolling over paving slabs, rough broken concrete, rough grass and mud where I was trying to avoid other sections of paving. I recorded twice in this location, as it was very active at night everyone came out, prowling like edgy zombies. I sat down to eat a slice of pizza and people flocked to me as they could read I wasn’t from around here. I guess I was an outsider, an easy soft target. I can’t believe the hard lives that most of the people I saw must be living. So hard. A level of brutality is expected, anticipated in encounters. Situations have to be managed, as it all felt on a hair trigger… You get a sense of more of the street life during the night, although there was an ecosystem of homeless and drug addicts around throughout the day. You don’t hear anyone approach me in these recordings although they frequently did at other points during the day: asking for food or money. Not what I expected from Texas at all… maybe this is just where the music venues are….

No images or videos of the street today, and for a while I focused just on the sound recordings of the streets I was on…

Wheeled luggage on Red River street, Austin (Day).
Wheeled luggage on Red River street, Austin (Night).

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 #6 : Brooklyn : 21092019

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.

No travel today, and no luggage bag. Instead, free-walking with written sound diary entry, and a gallery below.

From my sound diary that day: “Brooklyn/New York. Police cars, my footsteps on the sidewalk on my way to meet {x}. Cars travelling along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway above me, as I walk beneath it. Later in the day we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and there is the sound of car tyres making a ‘popping’ sound as they hit and roll over over a metal grid at high speed, which is about 2/3 of the way along the bridge. In the heat of the day, the air in the tyres is fully expanded, and so the popping sound resonates in the air. It creates a punctuated, repetitive and rhythmic sound over what would otherwise be a whitewash’ of constant car movement and engine noise below. Entering the Subway… the noise of the subway train arriving, filling the air, filling the entire space with sound. Rising up and out into Times Square, the voices of the crowds and the traffic… Finally after having read about it, admired it been inspired by it, I arrive within range of the sphere of sound that is Max Neuhaus’ ‘Times Square’ piece. I could have spent hours there… As an intervention, Neuhaus has covertly set a drone to emanate from beneath one of the metal ventilation grids of the street. Having created a level of frequency and of volume, the effect is that all sound around interplays with the drone. Different types of sound both merge and separate with it, in ever-changing and curious ways. Voices are over taken by traffic noise, which may then quickly recede to leave the drone exposed on its own. I enjoyed way that the piece creates both a ‘base’ and ‘bass’ level, so that any ‘natural’ sound happens around the intervention piece and interacts with it. Natural sound for this area might be: the sound of crowds, both moving and stationary; the sound of sirens – emergency services, police; the sound of individual conversations – tourists and ‘locals’; sounds of shouts, exclamations, traffic noise. I had to get back in time for the ‘instore’, so we took a taxi back to Brooklyn, the main thing noticeable was how the level of overall noise ‘calmed down’ on that side of the river. Manhattan was now distant. However there was much intense noise in sirens and horns and shouts when a fire started in the restaurant we were eating in… and I remember the crackle of material being consumed in the vivid and violent flames, just as I got out.