Monday, April 24, 2017

Improvisation in The Ballroom, Smallcleugh Mine, Nenthead with Koma Electronik Field Kit


Published on Apr 24, 2017 John Bowers

"Recorded and performed by John Bowers in The Ballroom, a massive hollowed out space deep in Smallcleugh, a disused lead mine under the North Pennines in England, during Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017. Part of Chthonic, in which Alan Smith, Louise K. Wilson, Peter Matthews and John Bowers lived underground for three days.

The Koma Electronik Field Kit was used, battery operated, with the Expansion Pack to route feedback through rock and wood found down the mine as well as acoustically through the immense reverberant space of The Ballroom. Two DPA omni-directional mics, powered by a Zoom H6, picked up the room sound which was envelope-followed in the Field Kit to trigger a solenoid to provide another feedback routing as it percussed the wood and rock.

For more details on Chthonic, go to Allenheads Contemporary Arts http://www.acart.org.uk/chthonic.html"

Update: I asked John how was it living there for three days? He replied:

"It was something we (there were four of us) will be trying to get our heads round for some time to come. Your senses change. Everything has to be done very slowly and carefully in case you fall over or bump your head. You sleep when you are tired, not because it has gone dark. I had a large number of very vivid dreams. We were completely off-grid so we had no idea of any of the world's troubles, which was a bit of a relief.

Sonically, the space we were in was tremendous. It's 40m along its longest dimension so astonishing natural reverb is possible - something like a 20 second reverb tail. We did a number of other sound experiments down there and it was great to give the Koma Electronik Field Kit an early outing. As the Koma folk say themselves, it is a challenge working with it on a conventional 9v battery but it is certainly possible, at least when the battery is fresh. The Field Kit is a splendid item. I couldn't have easily made this little performance any other way."

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