Other Places, Other Days (2017)

When I go out and record sound, which is how I get the raw material out of which I make a soundpiece, it often seems later that the best part is the part where I thought “nothing was happening” at the time I recorded it. Sometimes the act of recording removes the barrier to seeing that things are already perfect. I could never make the thing that is already there; that would be beyond me, beyond anyone’s ability.

Gathering the original recordings (the raw material) is a kind of journey. When you start off, you don’t know what you’re going to get but you hope it will be something exciting. In that sense it’s an adventure, a one-time-only experience. I’ve come to believe that practically every journey like this is rewarded with something, and usually with something unexpected.

When you hear this soundpiece, if you’ve lived in Boston, at a certain point you know that you’re hearing the sound of the subway train pulling into the T station, and that’s literal reality as we experience it every day. Then not only is it framed by being reproduced, but it has been unnaturally modified by me in a way that makes you start thinking, What was that? Other sounds have been layered over or under the sound of the subway train. Those sounds are real, I recorded them somewhere, but they occurred at some entirely different place and time, so you know that you’re experiencing an artwork. You know somebody made this thing, and you start thinking, What is this trying to be about? What did he have in mind?

Movement, going somewhere, moving forward becomes the bass line, just as it is in music. Time passing is the fundamental ground of music. How do you mark and subdivide time? That’s rhythm, that’s a cultural signature. Mambo, salsa, bossa nova, soul music, you name it, always rhythm tells you what it is. The basic rhythm here is walking feet. But the mind is not content simply to march forward. It must wander, think thoughts, become distracted, remember, daydream, and finally scramble down a rabbit hole into a deeper space, a more interior world.