Label: Notice Recordings
Max Hamel’s homemade electronics and contact-miked pieces presented here are assured and fully realized, with a direct relationship to their title. On "First Snow”, crackling, chirpy tangles are caught up in fragmented swells of static and bursts of braided noise, within a pastoral mix of dry acoustic intimacy married to reverberant and distant sounds. Many of the sounds here are direct documentation of weather interacting with amplified objects. This is organic, aleatoric sound art facilitated by artificial means of crafty resourcefulness. Describing this while currently hunkered down during a harsh winter snowstorm, we note the volatility of seasonal transition throughout First Snow, as everything here is morphing, dripping, melting, overtaken – not final.
This tape is a live solo recording made using the amplified and processed sounds of snow, hail, and wind. To capture these sounds I used a piezoelectric disc taped to a metal plate stuck out my window during the first big snow storm of 2019. As the storm progressed throughout the day, sounds of tapping hail, howling wind and clattering feedback from the metal plate were processed in real time using an array of electronics. Resonant filters, delay lines, and weird chaotic processors transmogrify the taps of falling snow and gusts of wind into grainy, humming textures that breathe and pulse. The recordings from this session were later cut down to the length presented here but remain otherwise unaltered.
I’ve long been interested in weather as a medium for making and controlling sound. For me, the joy of using weather in this way might be better put as a way of *relinquishing* control, giving the ultimate unknown the steering wheel. Electronics, even in complex systems, are too often predictable and precise. Weather is the perfect complication, always just random enough to straddle the line between structure and chaos.
Personally, I find some context for my interest in works like idmtheftable’s “1 Drizzle and 7 Rains (for Billy)” release, a collection of 8 hour-long recordings of different objects left out in the rain, Quintron’s Weather Warlock series of weather-controlled synthesizers, and the long tradition of solar powered sound pieces, dating back to Alvin Lucier and beyond, and continued today by innumerable artists. Just this year I released a tape of such solar powered circuit recordings, and I find it fitting now to release this even earlier example of my endeavoring to use weather as a compositional tool. I see the approach manifested in these recordings as somewhere in between the examples of idmtheftable and Quintron- not as fundamental as sticking a microphone next to a broken xylophone in the rain, but still not as completely abstracted as the tuned drones of the Weather Warlock. The sounds here retain some basic structural forms of the snow, hail and wind, but also build on that foundation with filtering, feedback and modulation that uses the source sounds as a control signal as well as audio. Handing the reins over to a genuinely unpredictable force like the weather is a freeing feeling that I continue to chase in my work now, more than 2 years later.
Max Hamel 2021