Friday, 14 September 2012

Field Study's Man in E17 listens to the rooms

Soundcastle Inhabit - Spot 118
38A West Avenue Rd
Tuesday 11th September 2012

I don't know what sort of self serving ego trail Field Study's Man in E17 is on but making sense of his memories of a visit to Soundcastle Inhabit on Tuesday evening has been difficult. "Start making sense!" I demanded.

He arrived at 38A West Avenue just in time to be ushered in along with 2 other visitors. They were quietly briefed about the conduct of their visit and asked to remove their shoes before proceeding beyond the front hall deeper into the house. The usher led them along the short corridor to another door where they paused; music played from various locations about the house and gradually became more audible. Through another door into a darker space, a short landing and some stairs down into a lighter more spacious kitchen dining area. The rooms were bare but for some rather ordinary furnishings - table, chairs, empty shelves - and it seemed as if the property as a household/home had been vacated. They tentatively explored the property while the music played around them as a gentle easy melodic ambience.

There was a sense they were house viewers and/or listeners being escorted by a rather taciturn estate agent who observed their snoopings with proprietal indifference; a demeanour or presence that made him feel inbetween, in a sort of threshold, a waiting room. He tried a door. It was locked. Were they all locked? It seemed wrong to try and touch anything else except for the chair he assumed he could sit on and wait for whatever this all was to happen.

He sat trying to make sense of the music and the acoustics of the place and how they affected the musical conversations, if that is what they were, between the different instruments being, he assumed, played live. He looked and listened for easy explanations. He felt a little tense and distracted by the confinement of the experience, the scrutiny of the usher, the restlessness of his fellow visitors and the mirky plasterboard filtered notes of the others gently reverberating about the room. What sort of musical ghost story is this, he wondered, while staring blankly at an empty cd shelf. Was something more going to happen to unsettle the assumptions and habitual responses he was making? What was he overlooking and underhearing?

The intensity of the sounds increased with what he guessed (rightly or wrongly) was a xylophone played with rapid successions of resonant tones - ringing and humming very nearly into a crescendo but not quite before it appeared it was time to leave. The other visitors had exited and the agent stood by an open door at the top of the stairs. He collected his shoes, accepted a little information slip about Soundcastle, and started to ask a question of the guide before being cut short by a gesture made towards the front door. Had he forgotten to change his socks that morning? As he walked away he thought he was a bit underwhelmed by the carefully choreographed performance.

It was not until the next morning, by which time Soundcastle had had more time to play on the mind of Field Study's Man in E17, that he felt more stimulated and excited by the performance. He told a work colleague about the perfromance installation and was told about a composer called William Basinski who had recently been performed in London; a piece involving an orchestra playing a rendition of decaying/decayed audio magnetic taped sounds. FSMiE17 tried to relate this concept to the ensemble work on West Avenue Road. He thought more appreciatively about 'Inhabit' while at work that day until, in the afternoon, an unfortunate incident silenced the memories of the chambred music and different sorts of dramatics occupied his mind - playing like a needle stuck in the groove of a record.

FSMiE17 is still looking for that Saturday.

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