Industrial Currents

room 4 ECHOES


Industrial Currents is an abstract soundscape intended to evoke oceanic imagery with industrial sounds collected from train station recordings and foley from mechanical appliances such as a kettle or fridge. Every sound in the piece has been constructed using these strict parameters of recordings in order to create something truly alienating in its contrast. I utilised Kilohearts Phaseplant for majority of the sound editing, often utilising granular sample engines, manipulated with multiple LFOs for unpredictability and a sense of natural movement. I accidentally closed my project without saving so I will be recalling my processes from memory for the first and last echo, and will not have the exact file names.

To create the first echo, titled “Industrialisation”, I took two recordings of a train announcement and general ambience of the station and opal gates, and put them in separate granular sample engines. I then modulated the output gain of both with an LFO that was opposed in value for each meaning creating somewhat of a sidechain pumping effect between the two audio sources. I then mapped a second LFO to affect the rate of the first LFO. I also used another slightly different speed LFO that was also having its rate modified by a more exponential curve to modulate the harmonics creating an intense build up of energy. Finally I added a ring modulator and raised the wet signal and rate gradually towards the end to enforce the effect of warping exhilarating speed. The result is a soundscape resembling the familiarity of a train taking off from a station but twists and accelerates far beyond what is expected, palette cleansing the listener of their normal listening environment and catapulting them into a disorientating new space. The name “industrialisation” alludes to the rate and pace of human advancement, particularly the sonic effects of this advancement raised in subject readings from individuals such as R.M.Schafer.

The second echo, “Mechanical Dissonance”, delivers a significantly heavier sense of dread in its sonic makeup. It represents time passing beyond humanity, leaving behind advanced mechanical creations to inhabit the earth as they slowly degrade and malfunction from centuries of neglect and the dissonant, howling winds of a corrupted climate. To create this sonic palette I utilised the file “Haymarkettrain coming into station with street noise (mono)1”, looping it in a sampler and then modulating the output gain with a steep LFO ramped down to create a sharp transient, which I modulated with a complex chain of other LFOs of a variety of shapes and rates to create volatility in the rate of the sound whilst still eluding to some sense of a broken rhythm. I then sent this signal through an effect chain consisting of several dispersers to give the sound a laser-like timbre and some slight EQ adjustments and compression, amongst other minor edits. I then used a combination of “Elizabeth Streettraffic light with traffic noise (mono)1” and “lighting stovetop (stereo)_1” with the same web of LFOs from the first component, modulating the gain. This was all sent through chorus and a rate modulated dual delay to create a dynamic, textural and wide high end. Finally I used the files recorded by Sophia entitled “doors closing” and “doors opening and vo at central” in granular engines to create the wind sounds, sending this through a chorus and convolution reverb. I also slightly modulated the output gain of this with the LFO used to modulate the gain of the other two signals for a slight ducking effect and added clarity.

The third echo, “Returned to water” represents nature's reclamation of the space as the station is slowly consumed by the ocean. Remnants of human existence and impact remain but they are drowned and barely comprehensible, becoming a small, balanced piece in this new sonic landscape. Many techniques from earlier echoes were used in this too but just with significantly more layering and the use of the plugin trackspacer to ensure that different components did not clash in the frequency range and filled up empty pockets of space in real time creating the constant ebbing and flowing. One component in the tapestry is the file, “inside the fridge microphone standing in fridge (stereo)_1”, harmonically modulated in a way that creates a sound reminiscent of a whale, reinforcing the overarching narrative of future machines returning to nature and being consumed by water.

The last echo, “Renewal” finishes the existential theme of the piece on a more hopeful note. The use of a sparse, slightly out of tune and still partially submerged musical piece represents the idea of hope for new life and melancholy of the last memories of humanity fading. The original recording of the melody was done with much cleaner synths but after revisiting the conditions of the assessment I realised I would have to find another way to create it through the recorded sound. The solution to this problem was oscillating small pieces of the recordings in granular engines creating complex and rather unpredictable fm synthesis. After a lot of trial I somewhat got each melodic component to a state that was relatively tuned but due to the nature of the method they eb and flow in and out slightly which after further consideration somewhat becomes a strength of the piece in its representation of a last breath of hope for life and a sorrowful goodbye to humanity.



The Echoes


Mechanical Dissonance

Returning to water


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