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Deciphering And Remixing Everyday Sounds

We have a penchant for featuring nontraditional remixes, like creator Matthew Herbert’s latest musical endeavors, which have the legendary UK electronic musician remixing the sounds of a nightclub, The Guardian newspaper, and the life of a pig, oddly enough. Herbert accomplished this by placing microphones in intimate locations like bathrooms and cabs to create the mix One Club, and in pig pens and slaughterhouses for his pending project, One Pig.

Ever wanted to sample your growling stomach to use in your next DJ set? Well, Karina van Heck’s Body Speaker can do just that, as the apparatus allows users to capture their interior rhythms, and with the aid of a sound box, use the knobs to sample, remix, and listen to sounds from the depths of one’s inner being.

Another UK-based creator and remixologist Mira Calix, has just teamed up with Andrea Parker for the Wet Sounds series, a one-night touring installation at swimming pools across seven UK cities. In it, music is performed live on a dual soundsystem that can be heard both above and below the water.

We think this experiment is an interesting juxtaposition with van Heck’s invention as both pieces deal with listening to sounds underwater, but while Body Speaker externalizes sounds from within our own personal oceans, Wet Sounds gives a completely different and literally immersive experience by letting individuals experience the same piece of music in two different elements at the same time (water and air).

It’s interesting to see established experimental musicians like Herbert and Calix pushing the limits of electronic music and delving closer into the realm of sound art. In their search to create new and original music, these artists are embarking on a quest to locate unheard (or ignored) sounds—Herbert searches for inspiration by dipping his microphone into neglected corners, sampling the sounds of everyday movements and materials, hoping to turn the sounds of real life into something profound and inspirational. Another artist taking this approach is remix artist Pogo, whose latest project aims to remix the real world.

Calix traditionally approaches electronic music from a more compositional stance, whether she’s working on a project commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, or thinking about how her audience will hear her sound both physically and emotionally, like in Wet Sounds. She, too, is in tune with the familiar sounds of nature, like the certain pitch of a cricket or creak of a stroller, and her DJ process integrates these inconspicuous sounds into formal performance environments alongside classically trained musicians.

Sound engineers and electronic savvy artists, like van Heck, are making the process of sampling these obscure sounds a much more personal and easily accessible experience—we can only imagine what Herbert or Calix would compose (or hack) using a mechanism like the Body Speaker.

View a clip of Calix and Parker’s performance below, and if you live in the UK, see dates, the list of collaborators, and buy tickets to the Wet Sounds performances here.