‘The darkness does not lift but becomes yet heavier as I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.’ - W.G. Sebald, ‘Austerlitz’
Deafened by the Noise of Time is a speculative take on how sound might decay and disappear; a reflection on the unavoidable entropy and dislocation of all things over time through 4 compositions, one with video. The titled is borrowed from Julian Barnes' novel 'The Noise of Time' (itself borrowed from Jewish Russian poet Osip Mandelstam), a fictional biography of Shostakovitch.
I first started working on the material for this album for a performance at Eglise Saint-Merry in Paris in 2017. Following the concert, I sat down to edit the music but struggled with the pieces, every time finding new flaws, unable to follow through with the original compositional ideas. Somewhat frustrated, I decided to strip down the musical content to form more bare-bone structures and look for a different principle or process to tie everything together.
For this, I shifted focus to a long running part of my video practice: the deterioration of things over time, where I use my camera with simple lighting and slow movements to focus on rusty, dirty, burned or broken found objects. I like the idea of these things being both recent and ancient, contemporary artefacts of a world in constant decay. I like the idea of being able to still sense memory on objects even when they’ve become almost entirely unrecognizable. I like how this pushes back against the inevitability of impermanence. I like the act of scavenging and reusing discarded objects to put them in new but uncertain light. I like to think of it as a kind of ritualistic transformation of 'trash-to-treasure', a conjuring of a thing's entire past through imperceptible clues left on it's surface.
For Deafened by the Noise of Time I wanted to apply these ideas to sound, and consider how a musical idea might disappear under an accumulation of interferences, as a kind of sonic sedimentation and erosion. External elements such as conversations, field recordings, generative noises, silence and inharmonic tones cover the original music similar to the way rust covers metal, or how memories dim and fade, or the way debris accumulates and compresses an object, casting it in stone. For these pieces I looked at Time as a continual burying of the present moment, leaving visible only small details of the 'now' (and the things within it) as echoes towards the future.