Six Microphones is being co-released on Line (download) and on double milky white vinyl via Counter Audition. Massachusetts-based landscape architecture professor and composer Robert Gerard Pietrusko has created something of an anomaly of feedback for installation and it’s quite unique in terms of its minimalist vibration. Stunting and dynamic logarithmic scaling, the work is split into six parts over four tracks.
A lone tone, bright, extended, eventually circumnavigates into the abyss, leaving a residual echo where a secondary low-hum buzz begins to form from its ashes, but fades. And in this way these tones sort of mimic light in the way it shifts over the daytime hours from East to West.
As a lover of all things minimal I must say, this goes farther than most, and as such may require an extremely patient ear as it is excruciatingly slow in transition of tonal quality. But therein lay the tension, the relationship of human to spatial sound source. In fact when it is stated that the piece “senses and responds to its environment in a deeply embodied way—it contains no representational model of music or of space” the truth is in black and white. If I stretch my imagination I could say this emotes, but is far from emotional. It is however, impeccably symbiotic – I just crave to actually “be there” to experience this as spectacle, first hand. To my ears (trained as they are) it’s more like listening to a beloved copy of Cheap Trick Live at Budokan than being in the stadium among a sea of people. A teaser.
At any higher than moderate volume you will start to feel this in your gut, it’s low and slow with a trickle rather than a flow. One would imagine this type of work is hard to separate from its visual components as a pure listening experience it’s more of a disembodied set of psycho-acoustics than most out there at the moment. But if you are into deer-in-the-headlights hypnotic cadences this is a home run. With Taylor Deupree mastering here you get the sense of sound pressure/equivalence, living and breathing Hz.
With over 70 minutes of dB frequencies there really is no need to consider the six parts separately as it’s really a longplayer. It certainly casts the relationship between sources (loudspeaker and microphone) in an interesting light, sometimes like oil and water, other times like a reflection upon the R.E.M. cycle.
This selection of works has more in common with the robot painting work of artist Roxy Paine than it does with the musings of the great-grandfather of electro-acoustic minimalism, John Cage, in that much is left to improvisation, to happenstance. And sure, along the way Pietrusko seemingly is present, physically manipulating, shaping these sound waves like a sculptor. Though in the end it’s really the sonic reaction in space that is the complex kernel between the cadences.