Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes: Week 2

Week 2: “Drawing Voices” by Drawing Voices

Hydra Head Proejct Week 2: Drawing Voices

When we first went through the box of 30 CDs after they showed up in the mail, this was the one I was most intrigued by, based on the little blurb on the label. It said:

The Drawing Voices project was founded by Craig Dongoski in 1999. The underlying aim is to use technology to exploit the hidden sound of mark-making. Through the amplification of marks being made while drawing (or writing), experiments are set up to reveal the potential of those sounds to communicate. This CD includes recordings culled from various Drawing Voices sessions used in collaboration with musician/artist Aaron Turner. In addition to the original source recordings, further layers have been added to the sonic palette, including but not limited to: washes of treated guitar textures, vocal loops, and scattered sonic shavings.

Cool, right? Well, the liner notes had a far more in-depth (read: “almost impenetrably artsy-fartsy”) description from the artist about the aims of the project, but a few sentences in it all started to be a blur to me. I’m not very good at high-concept. Once the CD started playing, though, my concerns about approachability were erased. While this is by no means a rousing, driving-on-an-open-highway, rocking-out kind of piece of music, it’s also not at all the hifalutin’, ow-my-ears experience I was starting to be afraid of. In fact, midway through the second track (“Mark”) Pookie and I started to discuss our feelings about the music and we’d both come to the same conclusion — it sounds like something you’d hear accompanying a video installation at an art museum. You know, the kind of thing where you walk into a small dark gallery off to the side somewhere, with the little built-in benches and carpeted walls, and you watch some weird video just because you’re enjoying not being on your feet for a few minutes, and then suddenly you realize you’ve watched the film three times through because the whole atmosphere is just incredibly cool. Pookie added that more than just taking her back to that film about sparks we saw at the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo a few years ago, it just made her feel like her mind was being engaged in ways it isn’t usually, the way a good art museum does. Just so you don’t think it’s too hoity, we also felt at times that we were at a planetarium, aquarium, and rain forest installation at a zoo or conservatory. In a good way. Pookie also astutely pointed out that at times it sounded like we were being talked to by the robots from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

In short, this was surprisingly listenable for being so experimental, and while neither of us listens to music to be really intellectual about it all, this was extremely enjoyable for making our minds open up and fire in different ways for 45 minutes. The standout tracks for us were the aforementioned “Mark”; “The Shrine of Wreckless Illumination”, with its snakey guitar bits (it was the most straightforwardly musical of the tracks); and “A Choir Speaks”, with the way it made its elements ebb from sounding organic to inorganic and then back again. (We’d link to some samples of this, but shockingly there aren’t any clips on YouTube. Wait, this wasn’t a wildly popular, commercial project?)


Also tingling the ol’ earholes this week:

I was digging some chill instrumentals this week at work, like super-duper favorite Alessandro Stefana (seriously, check out his two Guano Padano albums and his solo one, Poste e Telegrafi), and in slightly moodier fare, some Stephen R. Smith.

When we were rocking harder, it was to Big Business’s “Quadruple Single”, which we’d tried ordering as MP3s from their website. The files wouldn’t open on Pookie’s computer, so she sent an email through the site for assistance, and the band’s guitarist replied, emailing her the files directly. So we had to listen to them a lot, since they were sent with such individualized care and attention, right?

Futurewatch! Things we’re excited for:

Hey, remember where we mentioned Alessandro Stefana a few sentences ago? (Because seriously, you should, because everyone should be listening to Guano Padano. It’s so much fun!) Well, we learned this week that he’s got a new project coming out some time in 2013:

There was a Nora Roberts book that came out a few years ago where the hero is a painter. The heroine looks at one of his works of flowers along a roadside in Ireland and says, “When I look at it, I feel like I’m on a roadside in Ireland surrounded by flowers, and isn’t that the point of art?” Needless to say, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of laughing at that quote and saying, “No, no it is not the point of art.” (I should add, though, that the book, “Chesapeake Blue”, is fabulous.) This new Alessandro Stefana song makes me feel like I’m eating delicious ice cream in a sunny piazza in Italy, and isn’t that the point of music?

— Pookie

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