Igavene Olevik (the eternal present) is part of the series Corollaries resulting from Active Crossover: Mooste, a cross-cultural collaborative residency curated by Simon Whetham and hosted by MoKS, Estonia in April and May 2015.
Igavene Olevik (the eternal present) draws together a heterogeneous collection of sounds gathered from the fields, forests and industrial graveyards of South-Eastern Estonia. The music derived from these sounds is articulated by means of a digital instrument constructed in max/msp.
Playing electroacoustic music live has always been a problem for me. Simply playing back from a laptop is unsatisfactory. Muting and soloing various layers along a software timeline is equally uninspiring. One solution would be to use several media players (tape decks, cd players), to carefully prepare the various layers and mix the piece live from a desk.
Learning max/msp from scratch I made an instrument, The Articulator, which selects files randomly from folders using a cascade of random clocks. So a folder, one of four running simultaneously, with stereo or dual mono files, ie an 8 channel system containing 10 files, would offer up one of its files at random (inasmuch as a computer can randomise). At the next stage the file is played, for a duration with a randomised sliding ‘window’ and looped with a randomised start and end point, consideration given to conserving a decent chunk of the file to be played. Loops are never perceived as such because of the shifting play of clocks and start/end points. I can select from further folders and intervene at any stage of the multiple processes either to select specific files or modify any of the clocks. I also built in a timestretch feature with a very small increment either side of zero. Although I don’t use effects the system can easily accommodate both outboard and software effect chains. The music is then mixed at an eight-channel desk and can be configured for diffusion to a stereo pair or any array of mono/stereo speakers. The hard work lies in preparing the original audio files. These have to be pre-composed with a view to their potential for blending or coalescing among other things. This approach rather undermines the notion of an unprepared improvisation. For Igavene Olevik I generated several mixes using similar source materials then used these layers as building blocks for the composition.
As with all compositions in new music, Igavene Olevik serves as a meditation on the wider experimental electroacoustic project, asking questions of generic categories such as noise, field recording, minimalism, ambient and industrial music, of experimental sonic art, abstraction and representation, and of the phenomenology of sound.
I’m grateful to the artists and curators of the series and acknowledge that their energy, gifts and creative spirits inspired my own contribution.