October 17, 2016

Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster & Panaiotis - Deep Listening, 1989

Iconic improvisational collaboration by a trio also known as the Deep Listening Band--a play on words, as this album was recorded 14 feet underground in the disused Dan Harpole Cistern in Port Townsend, Washington. The cistern, originally built to hold water for fire-fighting, was drained in the 50s, leaving a space more than 200 feet in diameter with a reverberation time of 45 seconds. The trio brought a trombone, didgeridoo, accordion, garden hose, pipe, conch shell, and their voices, and allowed their sounds to stretch out slowly, like sonar, as if nodding to the chamber's original two million gallon contents. The resulting sounds lose touch with their origins, becoming barely recognizable, what the shifting of tectonic plates or the millenia-long carving of water channels might sound like if they were rendered into music and hit with some heavy reverb. That otherworldly (or perhaps subworldly) quality brings to mind artists for whom space is integral to the sound--David HykesYasuaki Shimizu, Paul Horn (reminder to self to post Paul Horn), and yet Deep Listening is spacious enough to expand into something cosmic. 

Thanks to John Schaefer's New Sounds, which brought me to Stuart Dempster's (also excellent) In The Great Abbey of Clement VI a few years ago, and is also indirectly what brought me to the work of Pauline Oliveros, who's become a personal hero.

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