Presented as a class project to
Prof. Erin Gee, MFA, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Prof. Erin Gee, MFA, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Spacial project - Use Headphones and loud volume.
Money & Banks. Objects and institutions, we use in a systemic fashion. Part of the system if you will. A north American individual can hardly skip over them. They are an integral part of life we either spend an obscene amount of time scheming or stressing about.
After mention of the “Money – Pink Floyd” topic in class by a colleague, I decided that I wanted to tackle that issue. Pink Floyd’s hit, however, was neither in my creative reach, within my technical abilities, or even have something I wished to explore. Pink Floyd’s “Money” was groovy, relatable.
I wanted something distant, cold, careless. I desired a sound that would be an intricate challenge, yes, but a sound that I could use as some from of critique to the central place the object of money had in our everyday lives. I thought it would work wonderfully to try to-build up and tear down- the sound of an ATM spitting cash.
Essentially the initial recordings were of a Scotia Bank ATM room, located at 4002 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G 1V3. I asked initial permission to one of the tellers in order to avoid possible confusion or fear of me hovering electronic equipment over the machines for a few minutes while I could work with the sensitivity of the equipment. I punched in my pin and took out 200$ to get a sample of the money being “counted” by the machine. Then in a beautiful “Slurping” sound, the machine “spit” back my plastic Tangerine bank card.
Sitting in front of my DAW, Logic X, for the first time, it dawned on me I had zero -niet- nada creative process experience aside from photography. A picture working implies initial composition or aftermath reactivity. Here, I had a bit of both and was left to figure out what to make out of my mechanical dystopian money sounds.
I listened to a lot of industrial songs over and over again to inspire myself and threw over ten hours in precise deconstruction of the sound and arranging tiny, percussion like, parts of it into “something”.
After a lot of frustration, at the end of my first 10 hours sitting, it dawned and “clicked” that I could emulate drum samples with my sound or simply import music in the DAW to inspire myself from the sound waves, essentially placing the cut down version of the money being counted into kicks and hats. I built my first beat a monotone one. The kick was transformed into a distorted, bit crushed “thump” which I revelled in and the hats were another part of my sample that had a higher frequency and was played down with the EQ and some Echo.
To that, background sounds of money being counted, distributed and a heavily distorted keypad beeping sound was used to make an almost “heartbeat” sound, but more of an electronic keypad EKG, was used to give it its simulacrum of life. The Reverb effect and 1 second dosages of “space designer” set to emphasize the highs were my friends.
The next step was to add a spatial component to this piece. The ATM distributing money sounds were put in background to the foregrounded thumps, and panned “around” the head of the listener. Subsequent electronic “buzzes” were also distributed between the ears.
I then aimed to “build” up my tempo by rearranging my current sounds, always in a drum-like tempo, focusing on the “omnipresence of money” in our lives a bit how our ears like taking the percussions for granted in most sound productions not focused on them.
The build up proved much harder than I thought with no access to virtual instruments and being constrained by the boundaries of my recording. It is then that I realized I doubted I would reach any form of “perfection” with this piece. Nonetheless I persevered, listening to various industrial sound build-ups and drops, and decided a “stutter” instead of a build-up and then “bass drop” would be more appropriate to the slower, simple, cold mechanical tonality of my piece.
I would be in a permanent state of dissatisfaction as it was a learning process and I still had much to discover, especially creatively speaking. My third sitting was the one where I recorded briefly my thoughts and process on a notepad, promising myself that I would come back only for a few touch-ups on the effects and for a finale.
When I sat down for my fourth and final sitting on this project, the first thing I did was almost consider scrapping it and starting again. Time was a constraint but realism, that what I had produced, might not have been something I “wanted” it still critiqued by its industrial / noisy aspects what I wanted. It still held the creative decisions I took, and still wasn’t too unpleasant to listen to.
Having decided to keep it and finish with a heavily distorted but otherwise undisturbed and “unbitcrushed” sound of me taking out the money, leaving only an echo behind, I worked it to completion. Being very happy with that end and the completion feeling, I did not think again of restarting. It was done. Critiqued what I wanted it to and succeeded in making me realize the value of creative processes and the difficulty of them. Even when you pretty much have “carte-blanche”
The name of the piece comes from the German “Geldautomat” (Cash Machine) “Raum” (room) and is a word play with the last T of automat transforming “Raum” into “Traum” (Dream). GeldautomaTraum – Cash Machine Room/Dream. I picked it because I noticed that in some parts of this country (Germany), some cashiers would give you the stink eye for having little currency in your wallet when paying them, basically judging your infrequent visits to the cash machine room, and thus your refusal to show off your wealth by the amounts in your wallet.
Alten, Stanley R. (2005). Perception of Sound Working with Audio (Chapter 3). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Co.
Terrorfakt, (Benjamin Vincent Dewalt). (2006). Welcome to Hell. Teethgrinder [CD]. New York City, NY: Metropolis Records.
Wumpscut, (Rudy Ratzinger). (2006). Jesus Antichristus (Album Edit). Cannibal Anthem [CD] Munich, Germany: Metropolis Records.
Suicide Commando, (Johan van Roy). (2010). God is in the Rain. Implements of Hell [CD]. Belgium: Metropolis Records (US) / Out of Line Record GmbH (EMEA).