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Surround Sound Static

My main objective of this project was to focus in on radio interception and static that drives us all absolutely crazy. Conversely, I strived to display this in such a manner that would be enjoyable to the ear, through the multi-faceted nature of a surround sound stereo system.

While some of the radio excerpts were displayed exactly as I heard and recorded them, others were modified and layered with other sounds to give them more depth. I extracted hundreds of songs, commentary, and commercials from various stations (AM and FM) from my car radio, for hours, in the freezing cold, with the car turned off. I then began organizing the clips in a narrative, yet out of the blue kind of way. What I mean by this is that I wanted a variety of different types of sounds, music, and talking to give the piece some dynamic. I often chose songs that were hilarious to me (I concluded with a country song “The more I drink, the more I drink….the more I….drink!?), and songs that are just terrible (the “shizzo izzo? club mix). I extracted commentary that was politically and religiously correct (“I don’t think I want my kids singing ‘o holy night’ in public schools and five-star sayings (“the balder you get, the sexier you get?).

I broke up the piece into three sections: the first predominately static with minimal interception, the second based around that Lisa Loeb song with a way better song of the era intercepting it (this one was intentional: Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’), while the third was based around an authentic interception of ‘Dancing in the Street’ with three other songs coming in and out).

I wanted the surround sound element to be a surprise to me as well as to the class. I think surround sound is an amazing technological advancement and further shows how deep sound can really go. If I would have presented the piece with preconceived notions of how it sounded, it would have ruined the presentation.

Brian Eno’s ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ attributes to the inspiration for this project. The album relied heavily on layered percussion and analog technology. That was nothing new to Eno, but all of the vocals on the album are radio recordings that he recorded from the radio in the United States. This includes Arabic singers and radio disc jockeys. He often layered them to produce a new meaning.

The attached clip is the final audio mix down of the piece, but remember to take into account that it is suited for a surround sound stereo.

Surround Sound Static