c60 / tmkutekt
It is near silent inside the skeleton, so quiet that the frequencies, high in range, go undetected. It could have crept out of Epcot in Disney World, lumbering northwards on its brittle structure of light bone, but it finds shelter far from Orlando and you definitely won’t find Mickey Mouse inside the dome. The rustle that snakes its way around the flow of air interrupts the silence. The air inside is then breached by an explosive boom that smacks against the microphone. Five minutes in, it is this sudden burst – a low, rebounding rumble – that indicates the presence of audible sound. It has arrived.
Canada’s sound – Montreal’s in particular – sinks deeply into the skin of the recording. Oregon’s Tim Westcott, who goes by the name wndfrm, has left us with the natural, yet inhibited sound of Canada’s cocooned environment. ‘c60’ was recorded in the “Biosphere Museum of the Environment”, in the geodesic dome (Parc Jean-Drapeau.) The museum itself concentrates on the water ecosystems found in the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River region. Day-to-day events continue to shape (or warp) our shifting environment, reinforcing the fact that our planet’s resources are incredibly precious, mirroring that of the fragile field recording and its filmy layer of sound. The sound reverberates, kicking up at the side of the spiral. The cool clouds of air pour into the sphere, purifying the sound underneath a thousand circles.
Inside the orb, the sound vibrates, shuddering as if a Tyrannosaurus were a part of the enclosure. The vibrations disturb the particles in the air, sweeping up the sound until they form an internal tornado, picking up speed and intensity until it reaches a brutal level.
It’s a minuscule, micro-world that zones in on the tiny fluctuations in temperature, adorned by the presence of inner trees that no eye can see; the voices are thin branches, cut off from the outside world. Under the dome, everything is closed. Spliced sounds begin to emerge. Out of nowhere, eerie voices of children awaken from their slumber, echoing from somewhere inside. They like playing hide and seek with your imagination, but just where do the voices come from?
A cacophonous noise comes from the generator, and what was once overwhelmingly silent is now a thunderous roar. The chaotic surge of power penetrates the otherwise peaceful, still sphere. The rush of sound gives way to ‘tmkutekt’. It opens with a thin hiss, but the voice of humanity is close at hand. Soon, a thousand voices drown out the sound of the air, populating the document, draining away the natural sound as is our disposition; we seem to be perfectly adept at draining our own Earth of her natural resources. The voices suck on the life-blood of the air, inhaling the oxygen with urgency; the vampire nation.
Quarantined under the white steel sphere, the second track doesn’t take as long to gather momentum. The soft swoosh of the monorail is replaced by the dissonant, grinding friction as it squeals to a stop, arriving and departing in its own loop of sound. It is the sound study of a manmade ecosystem that in turn exists for the study of the natural ecosystem. The low rumble distorts the weary sound, pulling it down into a state of slumber, but eerie jets of steam and clanking pipes continue to cry in the confines. It doesn’t sound like a dome at all; the clank of machinery could’ve come straight from the decks of the Nostromo.
Westcott’s dome of enclosed sound is an exercise in restraint. He isn’t afraid to let the silence in. If anything, the silence becomes an important, if not crucial part of the music. The music speaks to us, perhaps telling us that we are all connected to each other – we are all connected to our environment. The empty cans of Coca Cola and the cigarette packs that swirl in the air should kick start the nation into action. It is something to keep near as the field recording returns to its original state: that of near silence.