Nostos Algos

Nostos Algos is an imago-abstract sound world that evokes a dual set of realities. The source-cause was an intentionally un-dampened segment of sheet metal; the character of the resulting sounds being inherently reverberant. This natural effect was an integral part of the resulting sonic landscape. Three types of striking implements were used to excite the sheet: i) plastic strands (rake) ii) flexible wire (brush) iii) rigid wire (dreads). In places, various transformational methods were used to obscure the aural transcontextuality of the source-cause. For the most part, the piece can be viewed as having three sections, each of which contains specific transformational identities: i) unitary/revelatory ii) purely transcontextual iii) unitary/source-bonded.

One of the main intentions of the work was to explore the manner in which illusion functions in a work that is primarily based upon transformational processes. In the acousmatic listening context there is a certain degree of ambiguity with respect to what one is hearing from one moment to the next, depending on the amount of prior information that has been made available relating to the source material.

There were questions that played on my mind regarding the listener’s experience. Not everyone (obviously it depends who is listening) is concerned with considerations such as: What degree of processing is being utilised? What type of digital signal processing is being employed? Was it recorded in a real space? Is the reverberation artificial? With relation to such queries, I wanted to try and play with the existing ambiguity (inherent in any acousmatic presentation) and in so doing enhance the illusory effect. Without any background information, the origin of the sound sources is open to question. The significance of one sonic event relative to another is not always the same from one listener to the next, therefore the degree to which the experience is interpreted as illusory, as opposed to real, can vary greatly. Of course, this depends largely on a listener’s prior exposure to acousmatic aesthetics. Educated listeners are often concerned with identifying sources and determining the degree to which they been transformed, if at all. The challenge was to present the material in such a manner that, even for the knowledgeable listener, reference points are to some degree blurred.

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