During an artist residency in the thick of the pandemic, tucked away in a dance studio at the base of the Appalachian mountains, Ben Seretan set out to finally make the piano recordings he had always wanted to make: pristine, clean, ringing, indeterminate. For two weeks he would be alone with an antique Steinway—a blessing that, in spite of an unexpected, globally tragic, and tremendously surreal circumstance, miraculously remained possible.
But "silence" and even "peace and quiet" are slippery, man-made illusions that we can never quite grab hold of, and this proved to be especially true in the woods. The environs there were riotous, almost joyously noisy; the old wood creaking with rot, rain pelting the roof five times a day, rolling thunder. And then there was the breathtaking presence of critters; hissing feral cats, fiddling crickets, birds belting their songs every morning and, ever-presently, the sea of cicadas—enormous swarms of them—so loud and so multidirectional, as though they might try to lift the concert piano right off of the earth.
"It was clear the moment I hit 'record' that any sound I captured from the piano would always carry some other sound with it. There would be no silence whatsoever. So I gave in—I threw open the windows and let the world in."
Cicada Waves, then, is the sound of allowance. It's the sound of room being made, of guards being dropped, of adaptation. It's more often than not the sound of a piano *not* being played. It's the sound of wings or wind or water doing what they will.
These recordings are shared with as little artifice as possible; there are no edits or comped parts, no mixing, no second takes. The album is, more or less, simply and exactly the sounds that happened in the world at that moment, as chaotic and full of sound as they ought to be.