the city is immortal

The city chooses to bear the traces of its citizenry. Somehow these traces – smooth and shiny and rounded – lend the city a legitimacy and presence in the world. Maybe the city takes on these traces in an effort to gan a foothold on the earth, that without them it remains only an idea.

The city finds its way into its inhabitants in more ways than one. It forces itself not only into the neural pathways of its citizens – their thoughts and dreams – but also into their physical systems. The city forces its way into the lungs, ears, eyes, encompassing absolutely every single atom within. The city-conglomerate inhabits the totality of its space, depositing traces on every surface, inside and out, in an effort to be carried beyond its own boundaries. It doesn’t offer any choice but this – to enter a city is to acquiesce to this arrangement.

In the body, the city rests. It settles, is carried, permeates. It asserts itself throughout its own parts, expressing a character and identity readily parsed no matter who observes. Within the confines of itself, it is omniscient, knowing and updating itself to remain à temps and evolving in response to the state of its systems and actors.

Mote by mote the city expands its footprint farther and farther, trailing on shoes, in lungs and throats, embedded into the synapses of travellers – spreading like a living organism through myriad vectors across the surface of the planet and in the inner hearts of the people who pass through. In this way the city courts immortality yet again.


and see
radios /

A Suggested Perspective of the Body

– a porous field of energy, constantly replenished and diminished by the fields of energy encompassing it

– a finite and definite boundary

– multiple systems of informatino transfer, housed within a structure of questionalbe durability

– the repository of its own history, a library of experience that is built on every moment and then carried further; a fossil record it its movement through space and time

– an intricately designed and efficient infrastructure, the sole purpose of which is to protect, support, and enable a thinking and feeling apparatus, the brain

– a sparse grouping of probability waves, slightly denser than the waves surrounding it

– a study in causality and the inexorable unfolding of the laws of the universe

– a random event triggered by cosmic rays

– a complex structure for manipulating physical matter through space

– a collection of periodic and aperiodic cycles, the collective execution of which mark the rate of decay of the system

– a gathering of innumerable binary forms – physical switches that, in aggregate, complete behaviours thought to be intricate and multiplex

– an engine that drives and is in symbiosis with articulations of ideas, many of which are not able to be expressed with verbal language

– the rude form that belies the various and delicate sensations within it

– constant and regular pulses of various intensities

– secretions of molecules in multiple states, either for purposes of maintenance of stasis or dissemination of information

– sensors designed to interact and relay information to a central processing instrument, even when dormant or in stillness

– a continuing, non stop scan of data that is constantly updated and acted upon in the short and long term

– the first step in a complicated process of parsing the world and extrapolating increasingly abstract and finer ideas about the laws governing space time and how the universe functions, ideas that become more and more difficult to express using conventional communication systems and rules that were developed to describe observed phenomena or behaviour


A story can be read many ways – it is strongest when it is open, allowing many streams of interpretation at once. To discover and present these streams to the viewer through sound is my job.

In creating sound for drama, and in particular on the stage, we have 2 concurrent sets of demands – those addressing logistics of the performance space and those addressing storytelling. These 2 sets must work together, so that sound highlights aural characteristics that are integral to the setting while at the same time participating in the development of the arc of the play – the emotional journey of the characters and the id of the story. Sound becomes one of the collaborators in the performance of the text, be it on stage, through a speaker, or on a screen.

Radiophonic art is also a kind of theatre, a theatre for the listener wherever they might be.  My lessons from the stories I’ve accompanied  often make themselves felt in these poetic spaces. The rhythm of the text. Where and what becomes emphasized. These are decisions I get to make when shaping these works, and the theatre artists (and musicians and dancers and choreographers and filmmakers) I have collaborated with over the years participate through the moments I sculpt as a composer.

Stories are strongest when they are open and distilled. They contain secrets that are revealed through unexpected channels – a look, a word, the sound of a footstep or the echo of a hallway, the fall of light across a floor. I look for and discover these secrets, and they guide my hand and ear in the making of the music. They whisper to me, and I whisper back. Together we offer our small contribution to the many pieces of the story that comes to your eye and ear, and moves you.


Noise Floor

I am in the theatre for a show opening next week, doing sound levels.  For those of you that don’t know, the process of getting everything going in the theatre for a play involves each design department (sound, set, video, lights) having some dedicated time in the theatre to do their thing*.  In my case, it involves making sure the speakers are hung in the correct locations (based on a speaker plot I submit beforehand), having the PA tuned and rung out, the microphones (if there are any) checked and the sound cues set to a level that will work for the actors (usually this gets tweaked as we work through “tech week” and previews before the show opens in earnest).

The sound tech is in the amp room downstairs and there is no one in the building.  And yet the sound is ever present – the ventilation systems, electrical dinguses, and who knows what else.  It is always disappointing to me to re-discover that silence does not lie outside ourselves.  But then I tune into my environment and enjoy the sounds that are present – besides these systems there is traffic outside, a streetcar going past, 2 friends talking that I hear as a murmur.

There are compromises in this world, ones we negotiate and internalize everyday, without even knowing it.  The best thing I guess is to just embrace them, work with them, allow them to be part of the dance of your experience.  I’ll be practicing this today.


*This is before the actors come onstage.  Prior to this, they usually rehearse in another room with a minimal sound system, the important props and tape on the floor to show where the set will be.

new year

I suppose that basically every blog on the Internet is going to be doing a post such as this, but anyway: happy new year, and I hope to post more regularly.

sound and performance

there is a lot about digital sound, a particular kind of sound world that holds much fascination for me. in many ways the fascination is expressed in the act or process of making the sound around us audible, the exposure of the mystery that is in our atmosphere all around us, every day.

but being a musician, and maybe more so a percussionist, also demands a kind of engagement when i make and construct this sound into a work. and in the end, the process is fulfilling but not visceral—an important part of my connection to creating sound is lost through the keyboard, the midi controller, the mouse.

which is why i am so happy to have built tetsuo kogawa‘s radio transmitters, thanks to the help of naisa and hector centeno. for the first time in many years i have direct access to working with this world, a way to engage my whole being in the exploration of this mysterious realm.




7000 Oaks

the 7000 oaks project (knuckleduster version) is underway.  a re-mount/-imagining/-mix of the original joseph beuys installation in kassel, we decided to make it a part of the knuckleduster haus der kulturen der welt concert commission we recently did. the concert series was part of the programming HKW was doing around sustainability, and the 7000 project was meant to be part of our concept/contribution to the program, along with our concert and video.

a nice idea—interesting concept, long term life, etc., etc. fine.  a minor part of our life as a band, something to keep track of and occasionally do.  one of the many small things that we as artists take on in our practice—a responsibility, but not a pressing one.  occasionally irritating, often neglected.  not one that makes a huge difference but worth keeping alive.

until we planted the first tree.

going out into the urban wilderness, dragging our seedlings, a small shovel.  some water.  moving through the weeds and broken bottles, my daughter in tow.  finding a place, somewhat sheltered for the little plants, but with enough room for them to grow.  digging in the dirt, soil under our fingernails.  the rich black colour of the earth, the smell of it.  and then the trees, nestled under the bushes, drinking in the water and sun and air and our hopes that they grow and shade many small children.  the trees carriers of our future hopes.

this could be one of the most important things i ever do.