Tom Auger’s cc:me is an ambient electroacoustic composition commissioned for Elaine Whittaker’s Cc:me art installation, opening on June 1st, 2012 at the Redhead Gallery in Toronto, Canada. Inspired and informed by the theme of the installation, this piece plays with motifs of replication, generative degradation and “infection” while maintaining a static and arrhythmic quality throughout most of its 1 hour and 17 minute duration.
The compositional process involved recording and sampling a wide variety of source material, from found concrete recordings to synthesized virtual instruments to live instruments and voice. This source material was then processed and cloned, and the originals were then abandoned, leaving only the copies, with all the degradation and artifacts of the cloning process. This process was then repeated until the final audio tracks were mostly comprised of echoes and excerpts of the original material. A layer of digital artifacts was then introduced to portions of the piece to further complement the theme of “infection” that is at the core of the Cc:me installation.
The cello, and cello-like sonorities feature prominently in the piece, particularly noticeable in the final climax around the hour mark. These elements are variously comprised of synthesized instruments, a studio recording of a processed, bowed fretless electric bass, and a brief sample of recorded music: the first three bars (54 notes) of Bach’s Suite No. 1 for Cello in G major, S. 1007. This last sample in its unprocessed form lasts merely 8 seconds, but was digitally time-stretched to over 10 minutes long (starting around the 47 minute mark), creating an eerie pedal ground that drives the piece harmonically toward its ultimate statement, where, for a brief moment of clarity (around 1:05), the original, unprocessed sample can be heard emerging from the polyphonic texture created by the overlapping of many layers of the same sample at various levels of time dilation.
The biggest compositional challenge of the piece was maintaining its static quality while evolving the thematic material to retain the listener’s engagement throughout the full duration. It will be up to the listener to determine whether this was successful. The majority of the piece is a heavily layered, highly textural sound cluster, interspersed with a few sparse moments of epiphany. Its richest moments are to be found in the interstices, between the overtones found within the acoustical landscape of fading reverb tails. Best listened to with headphones in a single sitting, the listener is invited to explore and discover hidden harmonies and subtle events buried deep within the rich sonic texture of the processed material.
About the artwork
The CD cover and other visuals accompanying the album are all from Elaine Whittaker's Cc:me installation and show opening on May 24th in Toronto, Canada -- a mixed media installation of drawing, live bacteria, and sound. The body becomes a site for the infectious nature of language – nuanced, messaged, poetic, copied. Abstracted human figures, sketched using discarded carbon fax typographies, are presented as both wall drawings and insertions in petri dish installations teeming with live bacteria. These spent faxes, of once urgent environmental campaigns, are juxtaposed against crass viral commercial messaging, become shadowy iterations of the body, images of mutable histories, degraded texts, and transformative ecology. Four local poets, Julie Roorda, Jim Johnstone, Ruth Roach Pierson and Larry Sulky, and sound artist, Tom Auger, respond to the work. The poets’ words are, in turn, transformed into evocative tracings of wit, longing, memory, and life. Installations of word, sound and object. The textual, the aural and the visual. The carbon copy of yesterday becomes the transfigured art of today.
released May 26, 2012
artwork: Elaine Whittaker
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