Near Patch Point on Forsterstr in Kreuzberg, Berlin, flows a canal slowly, with a peaceful bank of flowery bushes. A French cafe is always bustling with expats. This sandy shore receives sunlight most reliably, compared with the urban canyon of old houses that Patch Point sits in. There the birds echo accross the buildings, many high twitters, and in the evening a songful blackbird who claims the street trees by its everchanging, multi-resonant patterns.
To perform an afternoon of solar sounders, the sandy canal bank was targeted, and thus thereafter, a demonstration of vegan fishing would be folded into the performance. The opportunity would not be missed, to combine my two favorite sports of center-pin reel casting, with experimental off-grid electronic sound art.
To prepare for this piece, I had finished a new case design that combines two of my favorite aspects of woodworking: computer scripting for efficient and tight-fitting parts in fine hardwood, and scrapcrafting with glue... The scraps are mini lumber from the edges of old prints (previously cut pieces of hardwood). Often this way I can save many beautiful patterns that would otherwise be burnt.
The case features a parabolic bulge that houses the panel and mount, and two angled chubs for speakers. The panel supplies nine volts and comes in a few different sizes, roughly corresponding to frequency energy for soprano and bass voices. After gluing the structure together, the sides are crafted with scraps simply glued on, then everything is sanded like its from Pier 1. Yes, this is how I chase my ideal 90s import store.
The ground mount is a new addition to the solar sounders, and this piece thus concerns itself with ground. A steel pipe, purchased at Bauhaus, screws in firmly to an aluminum flange on the underside of each box, after it is hammered into the ground. The flange and thus whole assemby is connected to ground of the solar circuit. Thus we can create or even play with the ground connection between each instrument.
Traditional banana plugs were mounted on each box, and connected in to the androgynous pulse-brain within its circuit. We listened to each without any patched points, while I poured canal water gently into the sand at the base of each one. There was a simple experiment to be done, asking if we could hear a modulation with this wet makeshift ground for it all. THe banana cords were connected between each instruments, and what was heard as un-syncronised birdsong, became synchronous.
While the experiment was running, I threaded a european canal bobber onto a long rod with light line, and affixed it with banding. Three lead-free splitshot (ROhS) anchored the bobber upright from beneath, and they tapered in size properly from largest at the top to tiny at the bottom. As I said, this is vegan fishing so just a wisp of line hung beneath the tiniest splitshot. I could assure protection of my audience as I started with only underhand casts but moved to overhand once I got my courage up.
The weather was a perfect mix of everything chaotic. It had rained earlier but the sand was still quite dry. There was strong blasts of sun followed by deep depths of cloud, which is the best most natural solar dynamic, as far as musical expression is concerned. As a bonus, the wind came from many directions, gusting up the canal in ripples, and even coming from behind me to get a rare cast with the wind.
As the instruments clucked gently and resonant in the shade and bloomed in the sun, I bided my time watching the bobber slowly drift down the canal. The analogy was about ground and the canal. Current flows in the channel, but it can only be measured if there is a still ground under it all. A bobbermontage will also demonstrate a gradient if weighting is properly spaced, as current is fastest on the surface and slowest on the bottom. I joked that I was sensing bites but no one in the audience got the joke.
The audience was there to experience electronic music at patch point, and drink beer later in the evening. This is the time of Superbooth, and many visitors had just arrived from out of town.
The sand is a compelling medium for performance because of the electro-shamanism of ceremonially imbibing its earth. Vegan fishing was a great way to bide time non-violently.