John Duncan

The Crackling

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The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for subatomic particle research is a huge building, two miles in length and several stories high. When European sound artist John Duncan saw a television documentary about the structure, he was fascinated by the possibility of using the structure for sound sources and arranged a tour of the facility. He showed up covered with recording gear and made many recordings in various locations. Digital sound specialist Max Springer assisted Duncan with editing the piece over the next year and a half, and the result is this CD on Bernhard G√ľnter's Trente Oiseaux label. Considerably less harsh and more varied than many of Duncan's works, the CD is a single track, but nine titles provide a suggested structure as the piece moves through different sonic snapshots. Duncan gets a wide range of electronic noise, from the opening static with crackles, beeps, and swishes through the layers of humming and white noise in "Tide" and the loud buzzes with sharp internal rhythms in "Act." There are sounds like railroad tracks that recur at different points, near the opening as well as forming a central part of "Change," suggesting the path taken by the electrons through the accelerator. Duncan uses the electron as a central metaphor in the piece for the process of life, compelled to its own destruction and the beginning of a new phase of existence.

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