Audio Diaries



I realize I have been neglecting this blog very badly. This post is to prove I have indeed still been recording various situations in stealth documentary mode and mashing them together. Most of this material is from various nooks and crannies of Detroit and the Ypsi/Ann Arbor region of Michigan.

Discrete Class – Counter Hegemonic Release

This is my solo project of ambient and experimental electronic music. Some of the songs on this album were created in early 2010 and it has been a slow work in progress since. I have released some versions of a few of the songs on soundcloud in the past, but I wanted to get a good full length set of material to release to the world before the end of this year. It provides a sense of closure for me on the material instead of having it sitting on a hard-drive and revisited every now and then.

1: preponderant influence or authority over others : domination
2: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group


released 12 December 2012
Album Artwork: Victoria Emanuela Pozyczka

Spencer Karlovits : Bass on Supernova Impostor
Uzi Mendez : Cello on Nautilus

Since the release yesterday I have been sending out some emails to smaller ambient electronic labels and blogs that review music of that genre with limited success. I though I would post some links to interesting site I found in the process.

-List of various labels in Michigan, most of which I had not heard of.

-List of various ambient labels around the world

– Rather unorganized but cool site with a lot of good music. One of the few sites that returned my email!

-Awesome blog of ambient electronic music, but also sound art, and various creative audio projects.

( also I posted a comment on this article covering Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles including a link to the audio book of the chapter, Ylla, which Nathan Prouty and I made in school awhile back)

-Another good ambient music blog.

An Overheard Comment on the Tube



When listening it may be interesting to have the tube map to follow the lines.

View Tube Map


This is a radio documentary of the London Underground public transportation system. It consists of sounds of the tube, bits of overheard conversation, and interviews of Londoners who use the the tube fairly regularly. This is not a documentation of historical facts or current quantitative information, but generally(and hopefully objectively) captures the mood of the people and different aspects of the system during the time it was recorded.  I was not trying to take on opinion praising or criticizing the tube.

I chose to make this documentary a sound piece to test myself in creating stories without the visual aspect and still engage the audience.  In editing I did feel like I was working on a film because there are organized scenes that have an order and progression.  My intensions were not just to collage many sounds of the tube together without a plan or a destination.

Due to the vast possibilities of topics available when looking at the London Underground and the time restraints of the course and my time in London, I gave myself a rough time frame of 30 minutes for this documentary.  As you can see I went over this limit slightly.   The material was all recorded between the 18th of October and the 6th of December.  I would record to and from school and on different trips around London, as well as specific outings, usually twice a week for multiple hours to gather sounds and interviews.  In this documentary there is a roughly outlined route, more easily noticed throughout the first half.  This route was determined by where the most interesting material was found and how it would flow in the narrative.

Discription of Scenes:

Enter Elephant and Castle and board the Northern Line southbound.

Overhear two children reading off the stations of different lines until arriving at Stockwell.

Switch for the Victoria Line northbound.

While standing on a platform a drug deal is overheard with two men and one woman.

Board the Victoria line northbound, overhear a man’s thoughts as he reads the paper, more voices join in emphasizing the information taken in by a large percent of regular tube riders on their journeys.  Rush back to reality as the first man almost misses the doors at his stop, Victoria Station. He throws his paper down and squeezes out just in time.

Move through and out of the station and watch a busker playing “Everybody Hurts.”

Busker interview.

Series of service updates and opinions from users of the London Underground, good and bad.

Begin riding the tube and overhearing random events and bits of conversation.  Audio spectrum splits to two journies on separate lines, one on the left and one on the right.  Changes at various stations.  Hear slight differences in the sound of different lines.

Begin to ride the Bakerloo line southbound, this is in the middle of the spectrum from left to right, with other things still happening on either side.

Journeys on the left and right sides fade, the focus is exclusively on the Bakerloo Line.

End at Elephant and Castle, train terminates, waits, and resumes travel northbound, continuing the cycle.



Underground Research

I confess until this point I have not done much research into the history of the London Underground system.  The majority of my work has been collecting material on the current environment of the tube.  In one interview the practicalities of the tube and a few differences from when the tube was introduced in London were discussed.  Without consciously making the decision, I think I was focusing strictly on current, everyday interactions that occur on the tube, rather than stating facts on the history.  I am toying with the idea of dropping a few relevant facts into the structure to give perspective of how the current tube system came to be.

Underground History Website


“Today, London Underground is a major business with three million passenger journeys made every day, serving 275 stations and over 408 km of railway.”     –Transport for London History Page


“The London Underground (also known as The Tube or The Underground) is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of BuckinghamshireHertfordshire and Essex in England. It is the oldest underground railway in the world, the first section of which opened in 1863 on what are now the Circle &Hammersmith & City lines and part of the Metropolitan line.[3] In 1890 it became the first to operate electric trains.[4]The whole network is commonly referred to by Londoners and in official publicity as the Tube,[5] although that term originally applied only to the deep-level bored lines, along which run trains of a smaller and more circular cross-section, to distinguish them from the sub-surface “cut and cover” lines that were built first.”    -Wikipedia….



John Smith: Unusual Red Cardigan

On  Saturday the 5th of November I traveled to Hoxton, London to the Peer gallery and witnessed John Smith’s exhibition of the Unusual Red Cardigan.  The event is a unique experience as the small gallery is very discrete and tucked away from the busier places of London.  I was buzzed into to an small, almost empty dark room with one other person watching Smith’s The Girl Chewing Gum.  The original short film from 1976 was layered over a more recent reshoot in color of the same topic and scene creating a very interesting collage of two films.  I think it can relate to my work in documentary and critical practice as it deals with everyday situations and  documents life in a very objective way.  This is similar to the way I am dealing with the tube.

“Acclaimed artist filmmaker and lifelong east Londoner John Smith will present a major new multi-media installation. His starting point is one of his best-known works, The Girl Chewing Gum, which he made as a student in 1976. Smith revisits this work, both in terms of its continuing legacy and also in a literal sense, filming the same street corner in Dalston 35 years on.  From this video work, Smith then leads us on a narrative journey that explores ideas around identity and anonymity – both his own (as perhaps underlined by the ubiquitousness of his name), and that of his two main protagonists, the girl who chews gum in his film and an on-line seller of his video containing this work.”


Documentary Progress

Shot above shows that material is being collected.  The main issues now are how to edit down the material and what form the documentary should follow.  The goal being 30 minutes makes it difficult to go in a linear fashion through the lines on a sensible and realistic route.  I am dealing with the changes in perspective throughout and still keeping the listener engaged.

I want to showcase individual sounds from most of the lines if possible.  One way to do this is having a sequence where different lines fade in and out over short periods of time to give contrast and draw attention to the uniqueness some of the lines display.

Also, with the recent extensive closures on the weekends it is hard to get an interview with an individual praising the tube. I am getting a lot of frustration from people, which may give this documentary a one-sided view. I was trying to avoid this and keep to an objective balanced capturing of the network that connects london.

Defining the Potential of Speed in Sound Design and Art

Boarding in 1 minute (Not real time):

This is an edit of getting into the london underground and boarding a train. It takes about one minute here to create the story when in real time it would take at least six minutes to get through the gates, ride the elevator down, walk through, board, and for the train to leave.

Boarding in real time, unedited:

This is the real time version of boarding the tube.  It is evident that unedited, more time is spent on the elevator, and walking through the platforms before boarding.

Boarding the tube slower and slightly backwards for a moment:

Here the same clip as boarding in 1 minute(above)  is manipulated almost beyond recognition. slowed down, and bit stretched.

Documentary Proposal

For this documentary I will try to capture the widely recognized sounds of the  London Underground and create a story(movement), mood, and setting with these sounds.  I want to emphasize certain elements that can be encountered in the london  underground and in a way, put them under a microscope with a microphone.   For example, when I’m riding on the train, the flipping of newspaper pages seems  routine for many people; or when someone is listening to music too loud on their headphones.  These small moments and movements could be interesting when put in the spotlight.  Originally, I was going to incorporate the buskers, but after inquiring at the stations,  I have found that I need permission to document the buskers.   They have not returned my emails giving me permission.   I may interview a few people who use the underground for some contrasting,  subjective views, and edit myself out so there will be some monologue layered throughout.   The goals and outcome for this project are flexible to allow leeway for setbacks or changes.

“The Film is the search”

“Some directors start from documentary and create fiction…others start from fiction  and make documentary”

Jean-Luc Godard,

Sounds of the Morning

Room 407E Julian Markham House, Elephant and Castle, London

7:30 am

My window is cracked open.  There is always the constant hum from the building’s air ventilation, there is one higher tone contrasting a deeper low rumble.  I wake up to discussion in the small parking area five floors below my window, words are not distinguishable, there is a slightly negative tone from them, as if they are arguing about a parking spot or something, then they stop and leave. Sounds from outside the enclosed parking area are many times more distant.  The occasional bus or car is heard, very low. Single vehicles sound almost haunting, hanging in the air longer than they should in the confines of the parking area. There are airplanes that fly over elephant and castle often, going east every 15 minutes or so.  These are almost inaudible over the hum, but there is slight rise in general noise level, the rush and constant turbulence of air in the sky.  A few minutes with only the hum of air ventilation. A car horn.  There is a rush getting closer, a high squeal, split seconds of scraping metal, and a rumble with knocking in it as well.  There is a hesitation and then it is 3 times louder as the southbound train from Elephant and Castle passes the rear corner of the building.

8 am

Traffic begins to become slightly more constant around 8.  Every now and then a pause is heard as it stops for the light at the intersection.  Train again.   Three emergency vehicle sirens go by within 4 or 5 minutes.  Rising slowly and changing as they pass by the front of the building, beginning to die away.  Hum.  Dull knock far away, sounds industrial.   A harsh engine accelerating fast, changing gears, a motor cycle.  It sounds odd because the higher frequencies I am used to hearing with them do not reach my room.  Another airplane fades in.  Another train.  Back to just the hum.

8:30 am

Voices from outside the parking area.  Kids.  A car goes slowly through the one way alley outside the parking area, has to stop for the light, then finally pulls out.  A Train, this one seems to be going slower.  Individual sounds that were a blur before, are more defined.  The knocking has more of a rhythm to it.  A heavier breeze hits my window making it vibrate slightly.   There is a squeal like a car belt and then it stops.  Someone parked a car on the back side of the building.  The higher whine of a motor bike going quite fast, zooms through the intersection and fades.  Some other constant hum is switched on, I think in the building that encloses the parking area across from my room.  This has more texture than the air hum, it reminds me of a fluorescent light but loud.  It has a higher pitched rattle in it, just slightly.  Traffic takes off from the light.  There is a heavier vehicle than a bus, a truck of some sort.  Plane.  Train.  High squeal of brakes as a bus slows to a stop.  Door to parking area from my building opens.  Footsteps, someone puts a bag in the dumpster.  Car horn very far off.