by Max Parnell and Maria Sledmere
Pure Sound: Traversing the Ambient Vernacular comprises an experimental audio-lyric essay which weaves together original prose-poetic sequences (originally performed at Sound Thought: Motion 2019) with digitally-edited field recordings taken from various European cities in June 2019. Taking its cue from Lisa Robertson’s term ‘ambient vernacular’, Pure Sound follows its narrator’s frustrated attempts to seek ‘authentic’ sound amid the din of late-capitalist urban space. Attending to the situational nuance of a present-tense thickened by urban density and midsummer heat wave, Pure Sound hones in on the unnoticed, fugitive noises that characterise the procedures of everyday travel and encounter. Taking as its central motif the public piano found in train stations, Pure Sound gestures towards points of sonic contact between street performance, transport, commercial space, tourism and infrastructure.
Emphasising the surreal quality of transitional soundscapes, Pure Sound presents field recordings edited to decontextualise and defamiliarise notions of performance and presence. Through manipulating the collected raw sounds, the piece seeks to draw out some of the obfuscated nuances and idiosyncrasies found within these urban spaces. Rather than seeing the editing process as a way of obscuring the 'true' sounds, this manipulation instead looks to reflect the often nebulous way in which one encounters abrasive, chaotic and multilayered urban noise. Working with loops, echoes and modulations, it stages a journey between the inside and outside, touch and gesture, present and memory, simulation and authenticity.
Collapsing figure and ground in moments of proximate encounter, including a unique cycling event in Marseilles, the essay and its soundscape captures the unexpected intimacies and potential economies of dislocation and desire within corporate and civic space. By following the protagonist’s ventures between cities, including an interlude ‘retreat’ to the south-west coast of France, Pure Sound reveals the way sound environs the space(s) of memory.
Pamphlet comes with streaming link to Pure Sound audio file.