These two pieces have been described as exploring the ethnography of technologies and indeed they are. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they explore the ethnography of disappearing technologies. But they were composed with primarily musical intentions andI found them difficult to compose because they had to work at both the musical level and within the context of sound art relating to extra-musical concepts, for example as the sound for an installation piece dealing with small-scale industrial processes such as textile making. Another feature of the sonic art methodology is the importance of public engagement prior to the completion of the work.
For Textility I used recordings of textile manufacture in both individual and factory contexts. Further processed sounds were derived from a small orchestra of hand-made instruments, found objects and materials.
The Ice Factory sources all came from a working ice factory in Eyemouth, south-east Scotland. I had access to the innards of the factory itself, to the grinding mechanics, the generators and the outlet where trucks loaded up with the crushed ice. I was also granted access to the processing space of a working trawler.
Industrial music was already a strong presence in new and experimental music when I composed these pieces though I hadn’t developed much familiarity with composers such as Vivenza for example. Listeners might hear similarities and indeed the approaches share many features - a concern with morphology, layering and the music occupying specific regions of the spectrum. I attended to the material by processing differently stretched and equalised versions of the sources, finding zones or nodes where different degrees of canalisation could be exploited. The sharper cuts, particularly in Textility, is perhaps one area where the metaphorical or conceptual imperatives of the sonic art approach dominated the purely musical.