SAM LONGMORE

Artist in Residence
Magnet Melbourne
July 2018

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 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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