Echozoo is a musical project imagining the lost songs of extinct animals. I have had a profound connection to the environmental sounds of nature and civilization through my Deep Listening, meditation and music practices. The sounds of the living world are as much a part of the fabric of our consciousness as screens, motors and iTunes. I am creating this catalog of re-imagined animals sounds in an attempt to bring awareness to our present sound world and to take notice and care of the elements of that soundscape so that they can be preserved and appreciated.
In June of 2016, I had the honor of being an artist in residence at the Ayatana Research Program in Ottawa, Canada. It was an amazing week living and working with other sound/media artists from around North America. We had daily excursions into the forrest, swamps, caves and cities of Ottawa and Quebec with naturalists, scientists and experts on biological sound.
Here’s a sound collage I created with some field recordings I captured on the residency:
My first ever sleep music concert was a 12-hour long ambient music piece performed at thefidget space in March 2016.
Preview in the Philadelphia Inquirer
Video Footage from the Concert:
From the program:
Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State
According to Tibetan tradition, the Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State was composed in the 8th century by Padmasambhava, written down by his primary student, Yeshe Tsogyal, buried in the Gampo hills in central Tibet and subsequently discovered by a Tibetan terton, Karma Lingpa, in the 14th century.
A note from the musician:
Tonight / this morning’s concert will be twelve hours long. It starts at sundown at 7pm on Saturday night and concludes at sunrise around 7am on Sunday morning. I ask that you keep conversations to a whisper to allow people to inhabit a space of quiet and peace as they sleep, drift and dream between states. Any other activity is welcome. If you want to read, draw, dance, drink, eat, meditate, and most especially sleep, please do!
This first I heard of all-night concerts were by minimalist and mystical music godfather Terry Riley. His first ever all night concert was performed here in Philadelphia at Philadelphia College of Art in 1967. Loops of harmonium, saxophone, organ and tapes were spun and fed back into themselves as the audience drifted in and out of consciousness.
In the spirit of those concerts almost 50 years ago I present Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State: an audio and visual exploration of themes of death, bardo and rebirth from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
My most recent foray into “unconscious music” was my 2014 album, Quiescent. With that work, I was interested to see how long form music (eight hours of sleep music) could be listened to with out paying specific attention to it. How would it effect the quality of dreams and rest? I received a lot of great feedback from people who slept to that album. Since that album, I’ve wanted to do a live concert where the audience slept through parts of the work to see how they perceived the sounds of the night.
Coming from my long time practice of meditation and Buddhist studies I became interested in the idea of going to sleep and waking up the next morning and its parallels to the Buddhist concept of reincarnation.
Over my time as resident artist at <fidget> I read and re-read sections of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and found much of phantasmagoric imagery to be quite inspiring. What is reborn, if reincarnation is actually true, what dies and what, if anything recognizes that we are the same being when reborn?
These are pretty heavy questions to thing of sonically.
In this piece you’ll hear long tones, drones, samples of everyday life and real time samples from the room here at <fidget>. The sounds will be morphed and stretched, smeared and compressed into a three dimensional sound scape coming from four speakers. I’m also currently studying Deep Listening with sonic pioneer Pauline Oliveros. One of the main modalities of her methods is dream awareness. In a very short time I’ve had an awakening of dream awareness (both visually and aurally). I’m interested to hear how this semi-improvised score will be affected by the dream awareness of the people sleeping here tonight.
Finally, here’s a poem written by one of the participants of the concert, Glenn Benge. Glenn and other folks from Springboard Sangha arrived around 8pm. They danced, did yoga and qigong, had some tea and wine and by midnight, slept and meditated through out the night. So beautiful.
This season, Gibson has created a full evening work that invites ballet to be the voice for big and intellectually bold ideas, taking the audience into new territory through a collaboration with progressive and experimental artists from other disciplines. Featuring seven outstanding classical dancers, Ephemeral is about the beauty and poignancy of finiteness, and our perception of Time; how we are both in its fabric and observers of it. Ephemeral is an immersive experience that allows reflection of time, of self, and the deepest appreciation of what is beautiful and ephemeral.
As Philadelphia’s newest and most experimental ballet company, NGCB showcases talented, eclectic dancers, and fosters exciting collaborations. This eveninglength ballet features a cast of seven outstanding dancers (Jessica WarchalKing, Melissa McCarten, Adrianna de Svastich, Amy Novinski, Ginamarie BattistaShifferly, Martin SkocelasHunter, Sean Thomas Boyt). Choreography by Nora Gibson, and original music score by noted ambient electronic composer Michael McDermott. Lighting design by guest lighting artist, Katinka Marac, known for her installations and creation of powerful environments through light and color.
Watch an excerpt:
This season I am Artist in Residence at <fidget> along with choreographer / artist Zornitsa Stoyanova. In November we collaborated on a performance and film called dark matter. It was premiered at the <fidget> Fall Experimental Music Festival.
Here’s a review from Thinking Dance
Excerpt from dark matter on Vimeo
Utopia is a term often used to describe the imaginary perfect society. More’s actual description of Utopia seems like a well organized hierarchical society, that is, in my view, less than perfect.
My audio piece was about a section in the northwestern shore of the island that is mostly ocean with a little piece of non-Utotpia land above it. In that piece of land there is what looks like a church.
Using the over-arching idea of religious freedom as a starting point I used a sample of church bells recorded in my home town of Philadelphia.
Other sea, bird and wind sounds were recorded from the oceans on the west coast of Ireland. Another shocking aspect of More’s Utopia is that each house owns two slaves. I used sounds of chains rattling and ships swaying.
With these sounds I imagined slaves being brought to Utopia. The piece has a very dark and ominous tone, trying to convey the notion of dread that a slave would feel being brought to Utopia.
I often think of Utopia as this perfect land where everyone is equal. The realities of the modern world are that for a group to have the illusion of “perfect lives” an underclass of slave or near-slaves has to exist. Aside from the processed real-world field recordings there’s a voice from a short opera I wrote in 2013.
The singer, Steve Quaranta, is singing in Latin about the creation story of a larger mythology I created for an on-going mythology project called Digital Dark Age. I thought his voice and Latin words fit in with More’s Latin story of the perfect society.
A sonic photograph of the sounds of three days of the Pope visiting Philadelphia.
Approximately one million people visited Philadelphia creating one of the largest gatherings in the city’s history on the Ben Franklin Parkway. For three days I walked around with my field recorder and captured the sounds of the crowds, choirs, vendors, singers, chanters, musicians and ambiance to create an sonic photograph of what this beautiful weekend was like.
Originally published by Cities and Memory
My family came from Ireland in the late nineteenth century. My aunt, who is American, has made dozens of trips to Ireland in her life. In early 2015 she spent three months in County Clare where I went to visit. At first I was struck by the awe and majesty of the Irish countryside. Near her cottage I could see the iconic rolling hills, abandoned castle ruins and the stark limestone landscapes that look like the surface of an alien planet.
Throughout my journey I recorded sounds of birds, wind, cows, sheep, bells, fences, chapels, cemeteries and the sea and imagined that these songs of the land were the same ones my ancestors heard.
In the middle of my visit we travelled to the Dingle Peninsula. This is, they say, the Western edge of Europe. For me this area held some idealistic notion of the dreams millions of Irish had in the nineteenth century, gazing westward to set out to America for a better life.
These recordings are from a bicycle trip I took around the coast of Dingle to a small port on the cliffs of the ocean called Ventry. In much of Dingle the people still speak the ancient language of Irish (or Gaelic) which you can heard interspersed with birds, wind and the sea.”
The reimagined sound piece ‘Corca Dhuibhne’ (which is what the Irish call the Dingle Peninsula) contains sounds from Ventry, some from The Burren and a penny whistle performer from the Cliffs of Moher. I wanted to create a soundscape that would translate the visual beauty of this ancient land by highlighting some of its aural beauty, both of which seems to exist outside of time.
Our next visit for World Listening Day 2015 is to the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, as heard and reimagined by local artist Michael McDermott, who tells us something of the history of the location you’re about to hear:
The Schuylkill River runs along the western edge of Philadelphia. The Lenape Indians called the river Tool-pay Hanna, which means “Turtle River”. Despite several hundred years of industry and pollution along the banks of the river there is still active wild life.
Like many urban rivers it became polluted with oil and coal in the 18th, 19th and 20th century. There’s some effort to clean the restore the river, but it’s still along way from being drinkable.
One of my favorite spots is near my home in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia where I took this recording. Turtles, frogs, insects and a myriad of birds call this stretch of the river home.
The river is a far cry from when the Lenape use to swim and drink from the river (Manayunk is also a Lenape phrase that means “where we go to drink”).
My hope is that the sounds of the river will remind people of the natural beauty that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.
Sound collage from the “Philly is Baltimore” protest and march on April 30, 2015. Recorded with hand held Zoom H5. Mixed and edited in Ableton live.
2015 saw crime after crime of police terrorizing black people in the U.S. There were several peaceful protests of these actions across American under the banner “Black Lives Matter”.
Find out more about the brutal murder of Freddie Gray on Wikipedia.