SAM LONGMORE

Artist in Residence
Magnet Melbourne
July 2018

Supported by:

BIO:

With a timbral approach to sound, Longmore’s works tease subtle difference from dense clusters of processed field recordings and digitally generated tones. Manipulations of volume and delicate shifts in pitch immerse listeners, evolving with focused precision. A recent preoccupation has been the proximity of traditional tropes of drone- and noise-music to the popular sonics explored by online communities in pursuit of the tingling sensation known as the Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).

Over the course of two weeks as an artist in residence at Magnet, Longmore will develop a quadraphonic composition to be presented the large Spatial Studio.

ELSEWHERE:

mf/mp Bandcamp | Website

RELEASES

CURRENT

day 10 – final entry

So, yes, the end is now nigh.

I have had a great time over the last two and bit weeks, and am very much looking forward to this evening’s concert. It is not often I feel as optimistic about a live presentation as I do currently. This, surely, is largely to do with having had the tri-fold luxury of space+time+equipment ready to hand over the course of my time as an artist in residency at Magnet. It is difficult to overstate the value this sort of focused period of work represents, and I am not going to go to great lengths to attempt to do it justice here. Instead, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all those who have been involved in my time. A short list below (apologies to anyone I’ve neglected!):

– Matt, Erin and Thomas at Sonorous Circle, who brokered the trip.
– Matt (again) at Magnet, who I suspect spends more waking hours there than doing anything else.
– Lily Tait and Tim Player, with whom I shared a quality hour of improvised mind melding (a section of which is to be released in the near future).
– Tim (again) and Renee Barrance (Barrence?) of Ov Pain, who hosted me in during my first week here and are dear friends.
– Sean and Annalee at MIUC who do such an amazing job providing space for weird and spontaneous things to occur.
– Pat O’Brien, whose late night show, O’tomorrow on 3RRR, I had the pleasure of performing/guesting on one evening.
– Maggie and Hellen at the Brooklyn Arts Hotel, whose warm interest in what I have been doing has been invaluable.
– Erin Taylor (again) and Dale Gorfinkle, who I am excited to play with tonight.
– Gerard Crewdson and Peter Farrah, who I had the pleasure of joining for an impromptu session at BLINDSIDE Gallery in association with Gerard’s exhibition, Serpent Songs/Windshadows, presented by Liquid Architecture and BLINDSIDE in association with The Audio Foundation.
– Ben Byrne, whose Avantwhatever festival provided such a stimulating start to my time here.
– The vibrant group of expats, music fans, and friends old and new, who I’ve shared company with over the last two and bit weeks.

THANKS!

Photo on 21-07-18 at 16.10 #2

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day 09 – action stations

It is a well known saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words”. It is apt here.

image day 09, spatial 1

My four friends and I are finally installed in the grand/austere Spatial Studio. Ready for action!

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day 08 – on four channels!

Having fairly well exhausted the preparations I could make in stereo, it was excellent to finally be using four channels.

image day 08, four channels in the bunker

At this point I had a fairly clear idea of the structure / compositional framework I would be using for the concluding public event, though had not yet been able to experiment moving the sounds around a room. It was very pleasing to begin doing this, and I quickly grew more positive about how the works were developing. This sense of optimism in relation to a public performance is rather foreign to me. Usually I find the process challenging, and often unpleasant.

The time I’ve been afforded to focus on and develop my work, refining it in solitude, in addition to the sessions playing with Tim and Lily have been invaluable.

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day 07 – mixing by distance

Today I applied myself to the mixes from yesterday’s recording sessions, working first from the courtyard, and then the much warmer dinning room of the B.A.H.

The Ov Pain sessions were a lot of fun to work with. My methods for mixing are unconventional, being as they are uninformed by institutional training. My first step was to multiply the combined mono signal of Renee’s two synthesisers, panning two copies hard L & R and applying a filter to isolate the mid- and high range. With the centred copy I applied an inverted filter so as to be able to treat this middle track as “bass”.

image day 07, Ov Pain sessions

Multiplied takes [3 x synth (L, R, C) + sax] from Ov Pain’s two sessions

I’ve found in the past that this method allows for a degree of flexibility while also giving the whole track a fuller, spatilaised sound. Here, when I say ‘flexibility’, I mean balancing the melodic runs of Minilouge, existing mostly in the higher end of the track, against the sinister rumbles of the MS-20, existing primarily at the low end.

image day 07, Ov Pain snyth filters

Filters applied to the synth tracks from first session [L, C, R]

Tim’s saxophone was recorded using a room mic, meaning that within this track there was also an amount of Renee’s playing present. In order to privilege Tim’s playing within this track, I applied another ‘soft’ filter, however I did not multiply the track as I had done with the synth takes as there was no need to separate two distinct signals from one combined recording.

image day 07, Ov Pain sax filters

Filter applied to the saxophone / room mic from the first session [note dial in top right is at roughly 30%]

These steps were more or less repeated for their second session, though of course the nature of the filtering and relative levels of each track differed slightly (pictured above).

//

When it came to mixing the session with Tim and Lily, my approach began in similar fashion, though ended up being rather more complicated due to the limitation of having only two inputs on the soundcard I was using. One of these channels I used to mic Lily’s violin. The other I used for Tim’s saxophone, which also allowed a slight delay to be applied at his request. With no inputs remaining to record my digital signals following their post-computer manipulation within the EQ, this meant relying on some, ahem, ‘creative’ post production, trying to isolate the computer sound as it was in the room within the recordings of the violin and saxophone (in addition to the pre-EQ signal which I was able to record within Reaper).

Hack-y mixing methods notwithstanding, the result is rather beautiful and I look forward to releasing the effort into the wild in the not too distant future…

Image day 07, Longmore, Player Tait

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day 06 – Ov Pain and other recorded sessions

After a weekend of touristic adventuring, a karaoke party, gigs, and working on headphones in the courtyard of The Brooklyn Arts Hotel, it was good to be back at Magnet Studios where I had arranged to spend the first part of the day recording Ov Pain (the drums / synths / sax project of my good friends, Tim and Renée), and the second doing some playing / recording with Tim and Lilly Tait (violin) ahead of a set at Make It Up Club the following night. I was excited about both.

The session with Ov Pain was great. The duo knocked out two extended, droning jams on synth and sax – no drums, no vocals. The first featured a crunching, crackling bed of MS-20, with flights of Minilouge and careening stabs of sax weaving overtop. Sci-fi meets free jazz, though in very much a different style to the psychedelic, Arkestra-eqsue sonics “sci-fi meets free jazz” might connote. Darker. A brooding intensity. A rolling boil.

Their second piece doubled down on this vibe, with additional background layers of chimes, tambourine and cymbals: a blustering bed of synth, morphing gradually in counterpoint to delicate lines of metallic percussion and measured intonations from the horn. I had seen the Ov Pain perform a number of times, and twice since arriving in Melbourne. The end of their sets over the last week or so had seen them exploring the sort of terrain I’ve just described, though not with the same duration or intent. To bear witness to two extended passages in this mode left me excited. Where what I had witnessed at the Tote and Yarra hotels had functioned as engaging codas to the main set, what took place in the bunker seemed a more focused foray into unplumbed territory.

image day 06, T&R

Next, Tim and I were joined by Lily Tait on violin. The three of us had not played together before, and so what followed was especially enjoyable. The first block of sound was quiet, but not too quiet. Tentative, but not too tentative. The three of us feeling it out in ‘true’ improvised style. The question was raised (I forget who by) as to whether playing together ahead of the set at Bar Open was in keeping with the improvisational ethos of the long running MIUC series. We quickly agreed that we didn’t really care either way, and popped down to the store for refreshments.

Upon returning, and after warming our hands by the Magnet fire pit, we settled in for another go at things, this time with microphones recording. It feels inappropriate to describe our effort with the same poetic vehemence as Ov Pain’s takes earlier in the day, however let it suffice to say that afterwards Lily, Tim and I were looking forward to the MUIC set where we will be joined by Llara Goodall on manipulated tapes.

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day 04 – refinements

Today was a day of refinement and distillation, during which I began tentatively moulding the preliminary, improvised recordings I had produced in Studio 3 with a view to releasing them at some future juncture as an addendum of sorts to pt. 3 – 5 (2018).

This reflective, editorial mode extends to my thinking around the structure and methodology to be employed during the performance in the spatial studio on the 21st. Initially, it had been my intention to preform one long piece of around 40min, using a sound palette designed to illicit the illusive tingles of ASMR. However, today, following my tests with digitally generated tones in Studio 3, this plan has changed slightly, and I am now working with the intention of presenting two shorter works of roughly 20min, one using a palette of digital tones and manipulations, the other a palette of ASMR-style clicks, rustles, hums, hisses and pops.

This adjustment of intent came as a result of the pleasing progress I felt I had made ‘playing’ the EQ in a manner aiming to approximate panning. Though, to this point I am working within the confines of a stereo, the efficacy of the 16-band EQ unit when it comes to sending particular sounds from one speaker to the next is impressive. This is as true when using digital tones and it is with sonic-objects.

image day 04, eq @ arts hotel

This process of refinement also relates to the set I am to play at Bar Open’s Make It Up Club  on the 17th, alongside my dear friend Tim Player on saxophone, Lilly Tait on violin, and Llara Goodall on tape manipulation. Initially, it had been my intent to perform on a guitar, manipulated first within Reaper, and then further using the EQ unit. Now, however, with the confident and dexterity I feel I’ve gained sans guitar, I feel it may be an unnecessary and cumbersome acoustic addition to an otherwise spare electronic array of possible sounds and manners of manipulation.

The final aspect to which the theme of this post applies is my earlier references to ‘the cave’ (which I have since amended). I am now aware that the space I had perviously referred to as ‘the cupboard’ is in fact ‘the cave’, and that which I had called, ‘the cave’ (in which I will spend the bulk of my remaining waking hours in Melbourne), is in fact known as ‘the bunker’. Corrections not withstanding, I suspect ‘the bunker’ will remain for the ‘the cave’.

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day 03 – the bunker+

Having claimed the bunker the previous evening, I was sad to find that the Acoustic Technologies speakers installed there had mismatched drivers. To put it simply, this meant that the sound differed from speaker to speaker, especially at the low end.

However, a silver lining became apparent when, this morning, having inquired about this variance, Matt and I swapped them for a set identical to those which will be in use for the performance on the 21st. On top of now being able to work on the same equipment I will use in 10 days time, this also required a new amplifier, the fan in which is much quieter that that which I used in the bunker the day earlier.

image day 03, the cave+

I attend pedantically to the cabling, and arrange some baffles around the large Eastern Acoustic Works speakers, feeling a sense of purpose and permanence about what I am doing. Now, with a quiet space which I am unlikely to need to move from, replete with wonderful equipment, I feel excited to begin preparations in earnest, and ready to sequester myself.

10 days remaining.
10 hours a day (optimistically).
100 hours in the bunker!

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day 02 – ‘the bunker’

Today I spent the bulk of my time in Studio 3, improvising using a series of tones generated and manipulated within my preferred Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), Reaper, running to the speakers via one of the two 16 band graphic equalisers I had taken with me from Auckland. The purpose of this was initially to familiarise myself with the speakers and other equipment I would be working with that day, and to get the day off to a creative start. In the lead up to my departure, this approach was also (more or less) how I had been familiarising myself with four channel diffusion.

With juices following, I begin mixing the selection of sounds I recorded yesterday using a pair of headphones loaned from Matt. I quickly become dismayed, finding that all but of few of these pieces of sound are infected with the whistles of my badly blocked sinus and nasal passage. Indeed, it is taking much concentration to prevent myself from sniffing while attempting a take, with several drops of clear, runny mucus landing on the ply-board table I am working at.

Gross, eh?

With my head pounding, I resolve to mix what I have recorded to the best of my ability so as to begin assembling them into a rough structure within which I intend to improvise with side-chain tracks of modulation and the aforementioned EQs. I arrange 10 of the tracks in a loose layered progression pictured below.

day 02, sound object reaper project

As I prepare to play, a band begins rehearsing in the studio next door. Their volume is substantial and I resolve to move as far away as possible. I end up taking refuge in a space known as ‘the bunker’ ‘the cave’. It is located at the far end of the complex. Upon entering, I feel settled, and positive. As I set up my equipment, I think to myself, ‘yes, this is the space for me’.

image day 02, the cave

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day 01 – hello

Hi!

It is a pleasure to introduce myself, my work and what I will be doing for the next two weeks as an artist in residence at Magnet Studios, Coburg, Melbourne.

I am currently recording the sound of my typing, which is taking place in a very small room at the far end of the large, former mushroom farm which makes up Magnet Studios. The room I am in is pictured below. It has been treated with foam wedges to lessen reverberation. I believe it is known as ‘the cave’ ‘the cupboard’, which makes sense given it is very small.

As I write, and record, and think about what to say here, I am also listening to how each letter of these words, each keystroke sounds. For example, letter ‘p’ on this keyboard is a bit sticky. It requires significantly more ppppppppppppppressure. It even sounds different though the microphone. Via my headphones the sounds of these words, as they are travel from my mind, through my fingers, into a Text Edit document, is pleasing. Rhythmic and crispy. Within the text document I have the ability to go back, to edit, add, rearrange, correct, qualify, however the microphone captures any and all revisions and amendments I make. What is records is a stream of consciousness, warts and all. Thinking and listening intently to what I am doing, especially with the distance created by the microphone and headphones, is accompanied by an odd, grounding sensation. 

Now, already, after only a few hours, I am finding my time here an interesting experience.

For a long time I have been interested in how sounds sound differently when heard via a microphone; how the apparatus of recording leaves a mark on those moments it preserves, which are always already forever altered. Distinct. Not what they might have been, or would have been had the microphone not been ‘listening in’.

I am at this stage unsure of how many of these messages I will be writing. For now, I hope these thoughts are an appropriate introduction to my work, and to some of the ideas informing it. For the next fortnight, I will be here, at Magnet, preparing two pieces for live performance over 4 channels. This will take place on the 21st July.

image day 01

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