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by Mike Kitcher

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Menagerie 25:00


Building from samples of Hugh Tracey’s one-microphone recordings of ensembles in the Congo in 1952 & 1957, Mike Kitcher revisits his techniques from “Processed Snippets” in “Menagerie” to create a world hovering between nature and machine — an abstract reconstruction of sound samples that have travelled from communities within deep forests, reproduced and altered along the way through hand-held microphone, magnetic tape, vinyl, digital deconstruction, and the ears of the distant listener.

Tracey wrote of his recordings that the microphone “must be ‘focused’ like a camera [….] to “bring out the essential characteristics of the music within the limitations of time and space dictated by the medium.” He would move between musicians to capture the variations he found most interesting, acknowledging that “recording is an art form operating within the limitations of a frame, which demands its own set of rules.” Kitcher zooms in further to focus on the microcosmic details that emerge when spectral, textural and rhythmic characteristics of the sound samples are slowed, delayed and repeated. The social context of ritual dances and celebrations remain only a faint echo while the components of the aural aesthetics are emphasized. Sound envelopes are morphed and rearranged so that the opening of a mouth or the decay of a metal tine are drawn out or cut short to create a new emphasis on the content of the sonic material. Moments in the expression of voice, lamellophone, conical drum, and luma pipe become susurrating insects, the steady clanking of industry, slow intakes of breath and smeared digital creatures within an organic landscape. “Menagerie” drones and hums with an insistence on pulse, a syncopated prolongation of listening.


released December 1, 2018

Mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi / Cover Photo by Seth Lower


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