Background Noise Ensemble – Metal Lake Reservoir

Background Noise Ensemble – Metal Lake Reservoir

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Cassette
Label: Full Spectrum Records

After releasing a grand total of 19 albums in 2020, Full Spectrum kicks off our 2021 schedule with the debut from the Oakland-based Background Noise Ensemble.

Midway through the last year’s spring semester at Mills College, students of Daniel Schmidt’s Instrument Building course abruptly found themselves in an online environment due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis caused the students to rethink how the class would function. They decided they would create a transforming sonic dialogue between them. The outcome is a collaborative album called Metal Lake Reservoir.

Metal Lake Reservoir is composed of songs whose existence emerged from each track's sound source. In the sudden absence of materials, tools and physical space, it became necessary to reconsider the concept and nature of the instrument itself; augmented by signal processing and a framework integrating found sounds as musical elements. It came to exemplify the ways in which the challenges of isolation can be healed by sharing, transforming, and creating as a community – within the sound field and beyond.

Each song began as an array of samples made from recordings of homemade instruments. Each member laid out an unpolished composition using the samples, and then shared their stem collection with the next person, like a game of telephone. Some tracks showcase raw acoustic elements, while others rely on audio synthesis and electronic effects to alter the samples. The resulting record’s construction highlights the power of little sounds, and exemplifies the importance of working together to make something beautiful and healing in uncertain times.

The Background Noise Ensemble features contributions from Chari Glogovac-Smith, Briana Marela Lizárraga, Michele Seippel and Samuel Regan.