I started working on this project as a dance remix, some type of mash-up with emotional samples and heavy beats, Joni Mitchell and Aphex Twin, maybe weeping on the dance floor. I had wanted to emphasize the differences between drastically separate types of music through dissection in order to find their similarities, to isolate factors of rhythm, recognition, melody and association. After spending hours and days of pouring through my own music collection, looping songs and samples, record after record, I found myself unable to analyze each song individually and began to dissect my own thoughts. Why did I pick this song? What does it mean? What does it remind me of? Where did I first hear this? Where did I last hear this? Why is this beat so hottt? Why am I crying? And so forth. The music of which I was trying to be so conscious caused me to examine all of the unconscious aspects as if there were memorial triggers embedded in the songs. I still tried to make a dance remix; yet the associative distractions were overwhelming.
After a few quality days with my headphones, I no longer heard silence. My mind, lingering on these questions of every single song, was haunted by rogue phrases and melodies pouring through my head, most notably when I was by myself. The first moments of sunlight after limitless sleep, the last waking seconds before I drifted off at night--even with no music playing, I cold hear hundreds of songs all at one time, fragmented and scattered through my mind, without any recognizable order or logic--some songs in their entirety like an ever-present soundtrack, some only for a second like a gunshot. The silence was cacophonous.
This project is a personal attempt to understand associations between music and the mind. I do not know why some music evokes certain memories, why some is more lasting, how certain notes come to represent entire songs or records, but these associations are undeniable and we seem to form them unknowingly. I think it goes beyond merely having a tune stuck in your head, a problem that more resembles auditory hiccups. The associations I sought to identify seem more to exist in the realm of distant memory, yet can be recalled as easily as images from childhood. It is as if to answer the question: "When you close your ears, what do you hear?"
The main track I used in composing this piece is "Among Fields of Crystal" composed by Brian Eno and Harold Budd. I have a personal fascination with Brian Eno and his series of records of ambient music. The fourth record in this series, Ambient 2 The Plateaux of Mirror, is one I know extremely well and often find myself listening to in place of silence. (Though Eno describes ambient music as "easy to ignore as it is to listen to," I generally find myself ignoring it; I've heard this record hundreds of times yet also hardly at all.) Using this as my ground, I tried to construct this piece mentally before I used the computer at all, flipping through a mental Rolodex of melodies and trying not only to discover what music I remembered most clearly, but how I remembered the music. Which phrases of what songs, how I heard them, what the records sounded like aesthetically, what songs lead into one another---I conceived a piecemeal organization in my head before I even sat down, hoping to replicate it in a conscious work.
I won't say it succeeded. I still hear music differently in my head, but this isn't too far off. Each sample is a personal trigger, as fleeting as I remember it. If anything were to bring it closer to reality, it would be a long extension of time, stretching this three-minute collage into hours of near silent ambient music with samples ranging dynamically from the overbearing to the barely audible, coming and going, repeating themselves without notice. When you consider all the music you've heard in your life, it is easy to conceive a piece like this as endless. However, even though this is obviously of my personal experience, it is equally easy to imagine any music in a similar fashion.
Imagine the brink of sleep, consciousness waning to unconsciousness.
How does it sound?