We (Annie Morrad and Ian McArthur) live at opposite ends of the planet. We compose and play collaborative live performances through the use of digital software Mixlr and Skype .
Mixlr is an Internet radio platform through which McArthur broadcasts electronic sounds, field recordings and live mixing. Morrad plays live improvised alto and tenor saxophone against these. Skype enables the artists to create networked live improvisational performances but also enriches their work through its inherent defective elements. Skype produces effects such as time delays, glitches, feedback and distortion. These problematic sonic artifacts have been widely discussed in discourse about telematics and live performance in terms of latency and the challenge it presents to artists. However, in the live improvisations of Morrad and McArthur these otherwise undesirable and unpredictable ‘accidents’ are all utilised. The use and extension of prior technical or experiential understandings to produce sound art creates the potential for new knowledge and language.
When playing a live instrument with the digital a unique is formed. Whereas digital sound is electronically mediated, the traditional instrument is forged from established understandings of music shaped within a Western scalic use of wavelengths. Playing saxophone requires physical responses formed from a reaction in the breath through a bamboo or plastic reed and fingers on a set of metal disks. Expanding such a technical device by re-contextualising or extending its intrinsic dimension to re-arrange or reinterpret existing concepts can communicate, re-communicate and delineate new positions on established tropes or generate novel sonic concepts. In live performance and improvisation the networked digital environment created by Skype produces an uncertainty about what is coming next. A human player creates rhythms that one can predict but live digital output is inconstant. This exciting and emergent aspect manifests as interference, feedback, glitches, frozen screens, delays, echoes repeating back, and environmental sound sent from the original source.
A frozen screen can be a nuisance, but also provides space within the piece – a moment for reflection on what was heard. Glitches provide a textural palette of information. As an enlivening element the delays and repeating back enable a complex sonic dialogue through which the artists can respond. The repetition of continuous sounds alters over time and can be augmented on each repetition, creating complex, momentary expanded improvisational spaces.
Reclaimed is a mixtape of earlier Morrad+McArthur material on Soundcloud. It collects in a new mix, material from our first album and a selection of longer ambient and field recording based tracks as well as a few more recent tracks that don’t appear on our albums.
December’s Itinerant Mind
is titled “Resounding Chonging”
the most participatory work we have done to date to the extent that Annie and Ian don’t actually play on this month’s program which follows the format of the Resounding Beijing
workshop we conducted in 2016.
The broadcast offers insights into the sonic landscape of Chongqing, China’s hidden megacity through the outcomes of a sound mapping workshop conducted as part of mad.lab, a unique intensive studio that utilises mapping as a research methodology to create urban narratives through experimentation, observation, story-telling, journeys, film, and audio-visual recordings.
Located in remote South West China the city is a radically transforming urban environment that is constantly being remade anew at a frenetic and challenging pace.
The image is a detail of a soundmap by UNSW Art & Design student WanYi Lao.
Field recordings by thirty-three young media artists and designers working across a range of disciplines and practices including but not limited to sound art, installation, interaction design, sculpture, photography and graphic design are presented here as one of the three final installments of the Project Anywhere
program we have pursued throughout 2018.
All the recordings in the mix, except the introductory and final compositions by Niko Plaskas
, were recorded at, or en-route, to fourteen locations across Chongqing on December 3 2018. Soundmaps were drawn at each location and an interactive sound map has been developed by Luke Hespanhol
and exhibited recently at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (SFAI).
A Weixin article (in Chinese) published by SFAI can be accessed here.
Participants and (locations) included:
Luhan Lin, Siqi Liu (Daping), Grace Chaplin, Joan Shin (Fotuguan), WanYi Doris Lao, Angela Xinyi Zhou (Eling), Jang-un Lee, Peier Yu (Shapingba), Yuxin Huang, Manxiu Lyu, Leidan Zhu (Hongqihegou), April Xinyuan Chen, Wendy Yuandi Cao (Huanxin), Kathy Veloso, Monika Murata (Liziba), Zhipeng Xie, Xiezhi Peng,
Yinni Hou, Xiaoran Xu, DeVanté Carpenter (Longtoushi), Jasmine Hall, Rabeea Soomro, Jingwen Ou, Kang Xue (Xiaoshiza), Ming Zhu, Yiqiu Zhou (Zhengjiayuanzi), Nicholas Glascott, Niko Plaskas (Wulidan), Moe Qashlan, Annalise Ifield, Erin Peixuan Mao (South Square), Mika Yuncong Liu, Yanting Zhan, Danni Fu (Yuanjaigang)
mad.lab’s project partners include: UNSW Art & Design, Design Lab (University of Sydney), Priestman Architects (Chongqing), CQubed (Chongqing), Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, DFAT (New Colombo Plan), Dimensions Art Centre (Chongqing).
We’ve started to promote our recent CD “Shadowed”. It’s a self produced limited edition now in stock at Ray’s Jazz at Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Rd, London’s most famous bookstore.
You can stream “Shadowed” as well as our previous albums now on Spotify.
The November, December, and the upcoming January 2019 broadcasts of Itinerant Mind are completely devoted to concluding our work on The Grid for Project Anywhere. We will post about and discuss each program separately beginning here.
The urban focus of The Grid has been centred on three very different urban conurbations London, Sydney and Chongqing while the outcomes of the project have been broadcast on Wave Farm WGXC 90.7 FM in New York. Each of these three final Project Anywhere broadcast’s has one of these cities as its sonic focus
November’s iteration of Itinerant Mind begins the triology with Sydney and the proposed emphasis on the drone as a sonic form.
In our collection collecting and broadcasting of material for the Project Anywhere work “The Grid” we have for the most part kept the material separate in that it has not been mixed in any way – just played as raw data, drones, field recordings, conversations and improvisations.
As this project draws to a close, the November broadcast “Project Anywhere (DroneMix)” marked the first of several where our Project Anywhere content taken from the cities and streets of Sydney, Chongqing and London is coalesced into a whole work in itself. Although you will hear material from all three sites throughout the emphasis in this mix is the drone – the Sydney component of The Grid project.
For more info on this project visit: https://www.projectanywhere.net/the-grid/
Over the time Morrad+McArthur have worked together, we have accumulated a huge archive of recorded online interactions and improvisations. Although in producing Itinerant Mind each month we have sometimes included fragments of our conversations and other incidental moments, much of what happens in and between the improvisations is not used or is “curated out”.
Our broadcast for October 2018 “The things we left out” was a dense sound collage that mashes together layers of previously discarded or left out edits, conversations – often around making plans, discussing strategy, trying to connect, mistakes or other malfunctions.
This is juxtaposed alongside or layered over new improvisations and drones for Project Anywhere, parts of our recent album, and excerpts from Annie’s recent Mansions of the Future performance “ Reaching Zero” with General Practice co-founder Nick Simpson. Others who make brief appearances in the mix include our regular guests Fouad el Baidouri and Ross Oliver.
Direct link to the archived broadcast.
It’s out! After two years of working on this, we have finally released it in CD and digital formats. It’s improvised, very DIY, more soundart than music (though Annie would probably have other thoughts on that), at times raw and rudimentary – parts were recorded live at my house, mixed, and mastered using the most basic of tools, some moments are sort of ludicrous (in a good way), but also there are others I think approaching beautiful (thanks Carly for drawing that to my attention). It’s something I think we are proud of. Thanks also to Ross Oliver for agreeing to be on it with us. Please have a listen. Stream our new album “Shadowed” now on Spotify.