Aural Refrigeration

We’re about to tear down this old building. It’s a windowless cold storage facility, a giant drive-in refrigerator. 25 ft wide and nearly as tall. The interior is lit by metal-halide lights that buzz, loudly. The walls are constructed of 6” insulated panels, clad with sheet metal. The reverberations in the room are scary and endless. When you speak to someone 10 feet away from you, the flutter echo drowns out their response, warping words and decreasing conversation to a wavy mess of sound. Sounds stay way longer than they are welcome- a random “whoop” can hang out for minutes before it loses it’s noise and cedes the space to the hum of the lights.

Maxx Katz, walks in, holding a flute.  Maxx is an amazing improviser, a flute player and singer in rock band(z).  We cut the lights, no more buzz, and now there are footsteps and the shuffling of microphone stands.  I’ve positioned two mics in the center of the room, 40 feet away from each other, each facing their own noisy corners. Maxx plays the flute. She walks around the dark empty space. I record it all to a laptop. I listen to her for several hours, riffing on her own thoughts, themes that arise in her music and mutate. Did she mean to blow out that note?  Or was that the space, stretching the sound and throwing it back at her?  Is she wrestling with something in the music or is this the equivalent of doodling?  I don’t know. We talk about Steve Miller; she sings a verse of “Come on in my Kitchen”  like he sings it. She interprets a verse through Robert Johnson’s ghost (not present).

There is a solid 45 minutes of incredible audio now stored on the hard drive.  After the building is torn down and rebuilt, I’ll go back into the space and temporarily install speakers in the same spots.  We’ll be able to hear the music as it was recorded in the original space.  It’s a form of building preservation, an aural memory of the space. The last frozen performance in this old refrigerator.

Check out Maxx's website..