tamara montenegro - naka naka oka aina

tamara

Naka Naka Oka Aina was produced and composed by Tamara Montenegro, and features poetry by Violet Witt.


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Tamara says:

This piece sounds unheard and repressed voices in our society. Behind the laughter of children playing, we can hear the solemn chanting of a lost Roma woman walking the streets of Barcelona. Violet Witt’s sung poem “All I am is a woman" explores the incongruence of being read as a woman, when experiencing a far more complex relationship with gender. The last part of the piece is inspired by another poem by Witt in which they write of taking action rather than only thinking, n order to heal and co-create a more inclusive world.

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Born in the lush lands of Nicaragua, Tamara Montenegro’s work was birthed from their engagement with the electronic music scene. Tamara’s sound work now also extends to sound art, soundtrack composition, field recording, and psychoacoustic research. They understand the power of sound and music to bring about social development, healing, action, and change and see DJing as an act of shamanism. Their music and research seek to touch the human psyche and incite social change by building roots and networks through dance and integrative listening, weaving together their vision of global community for a new culture of conscious living. More of their music is available here.



myra al-rahim - and the sea gave up the dead which were in it

myra

And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were In It was produced by Myra Al-Rahim. It airs for the first time here on Constellations.

A clip from Samuel Beckett's, Not I performed by Billy Whitelaw (1973) was used in this piece as well as a clip from ITV's Sci-Fi drama tv show, Sapphire and Steel (1979-1982). Featuring music by Ilia Belorukov and Nonhorse from the Free Music Archive.

Myra would like to thank Georgia Graham, Caily Herbert, John Estona and Terrence Arjoon for coming in at the 11th hour and helping voice the last section of this piece. Thanks to Mohammed Wafa for his mastery of the Arabic language and Melaney Portillo for her critical feedback. And a big, big thank you to Jess and Michelle from the Constellations team for soliciting this work and their willingness to collaborate. 


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Myra says:

I started making this piece in the summer of 2017. That year marked 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq. From the piece’s conception, my plan was to create a sonic eulogy commemorating this anniversary; to construct an audioverse where I could reflect on the hubris of the United States and its acolytes. Propelled by ruthless arrogance, bolstered by intelligence that was categorically false, their decision to act preemptively against the non-threat that was Saddam’s Regime, thrust the region into years of destabilization and bloodshed the shock waves of which continue to reverberate to this day. The grievous damage the war caused to the sovereign nation of Iraq, the lasting impact it would have on the rest of the region and the world, and my deeply complicated feelings toward my own Iraqi family members who, in 2003, welcomed the invasion with open arms, are all factors that informed the creation of this work.

I wanted to explore the idea of broken sounds. I certainly feel as if many of the clips I used sustained a good amount of abuse throughout the process of creating the piece. Time, specifically, the past, also plays a central role in this piece. I wanted to cast the Past as this penetrative force that was breaking in and colonizing the present moment, preventing the course of progress into the future. My goal was to achieve a state where the space time continuum had effectively ruptured and all the ghosts of history, uninhibited by the walls protecting the flow of progress, would come to haunt the present we occupy.

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Inspiring Myra in the world of sound:

The British electronic musician Burial, for inspiring me to channel the energy of the sonic spectres that haunt us. Delia Derbyshire and the team that comprised the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop for encouraging me to engage with the materiality of sound and elevating my understanding of sound making as a craft, much like pottery or carpentry. Electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani. My Korg MS 20 synthesizer, for rewarding my curiosity as opposed to my virtuosity.

And outside of it:

The writing of the late Mark Fischer has had an incalculable impact on my sound work as well as my politics and understanding of the world around me. His work always makes me feel less alone. Walter Benjamin’s, Theses on the Philosophy of History without which this piece would have never been made. The BBC documentarian, Adam Curtis for his ability to leave no stone unturned and no maggot lonely. The hours I’ve spent on the dance floor with my friends in spaces that elevate the talent of QTPOC electronic musicians.

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Constellations Says by Amita Kirpalani:

The incident and the echo: these are the two propositions for engagement with And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were In It. The exposition of the piece features worn tape of George W. Bush as he casually muses on a justification for the invasion of Iraq. The sound of a tape deck rewinding over this over-exposed rhetoric marks the  15 year anniversary of the invasion. Myra sets his words against the sound of soldiers in combat, in panic, calling out for each other, breathing. With her hands on this history, the sound of a bouncing ball becomes cross-fire, becomes wailing, then distortion, a Call to Prayer and again, tape.

Inspired by this piece I re-watched Watch this drive - also featured in Fahrenheit 9/11 - where Dubya is speaking to the press on a golf course. He says “We must stop the terror. I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.  Now, watch this drive.” And then we watch that drive. In golf - an arena heavily associated with the current -occupant of the White House - ‘a shotgun start’ is when all players simultaneously tee off, with the goal that all players finish the game at the same time. Each set of four players begins at a different hole, together in the game, but really they could be anywhere.

In this piece, laughter and crying are indistinguishable; they are both distorted and sonically collaged. My own limitations were really clear where I couldn’t ‘read’ the short sections of the work in Arabic. But amongst the many layers of speech was a recognisable section from Samuel Beckett’s Not I (1973) which felt like a union of the listener and the artist. Stage directions at specific intervals for the third person ‘Auditor’ of Beckett’s work instruct the actor to undertake “simple sideways raising of arms from side and then falling back, in a gesture of helpless compassion.” So, here we both sit in a gesture of helpless compassion, alert to the fact of an unnecessary war with its unnecessary trauma as we watch another president do another drive.

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Myra Al-Rahim is an audio producer currently working at BRIC Arts and Media in Brooklyn, NY where she edits their tri-weekly local news and culture show, 112BK. Her forays into the world of transmission arts are just beginning and she is very excited. You can find some of Myra’s other work here and here.


ayesha barmania - quiet contemplations

Quiet Contemplations was produced and recorded by Ayesha Barmania about the relativity of quiet moments.


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Ayesha says:

I have been really inspired by Ad Reinhardt's 'Abstract Painting' from 1963 which depicts nine very subtle shades of black. At first glance, the viewer sees a flat black canvas. Over time, the viewer notices the subtle tone differences - one is more red, another blue, one slightly green. The viewer wonders: which is the true black?

That concept has resonated with me when I contemplate the subtleties in silence. I don't think we can ever experience true silence - we can only ever get close to it. Even if I were in an anechoic chamber I'd still hear the sound of my heartbeat and my body moving. And it poses an even greater impossibility to broadcast or podcast silence. Yet we still know quiet when we hear it, in the same way that we know a colour is black when we see it. The relativity of quiet in relation to noise intrigued me and I wanted to explore the relativity of quiet in relation to other quiet moments.

Over this past summer, I backpacked around Canada, traveling by bus, train, plane and foot from East Coast to West. Along the way I spent a lot of time being quiet and listening to the sounds around me. This piece is a scrapbook of those quiet moments, and through the juxtaposition the listener can hear the subtleties of quiet.

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Inspiring Ayesha in the world of sound:

The drone and noise art community in Peterborough continues to thrill and inspire me. Artists like B.P. Hughes challenge the idea of attractive art and attractive performance with harsh and aggressive noise. His work and the artists he curates has helped me think about noise and silence.

And outside of it:

Haruki Murakami's writing inspires a lot of my ambient sound work. I love the feeling in his books of the world washing over the main characters, in some ways I have similar experiences when I go out and record the natural sounds around me.

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Constellations Says by Amita Kirpalani:

Ayesha’s piece operates in a space we could call the acoustic sublime.  The sublime feels so outmoded right now that I wanted to go back a bit and play with a wiki-Latin breakdown: sub =  underneath, limen = limit or threshold. This definition moves us away from the sublime’s more bombastic connotations of  ‘loftiness’, ‘grandness’, ‘greatness’ etc. That Ayesha’s piece moves from and around stillness, and rises up against silence, reveals the work’s complex interior logic.

Sorry, one more step backwards. In Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757), Burke titles a chapter, “Why Things Not Dangerous Sometimes Produce A Passion Like Terror”. In the text, Burke positions the sublime in relation to the edges or boundaries of what is felt. And this sublime contravenes expectation; the example he quotes is moving downstairs, mis-stepping and taking a step that isn’t actually there. “Quiet Contemplations” is a journey of steps like these, a construction of tonal shifts and textures which, for this listener rouses ecological concern. A portrait of the artist at one with and distinct from nature. So more broadly, because of this particular socio-political moment, will references to nature in art always hold climate change connotations? And will this always make secondary a Romantic metaphysical reading of the work?

Pushing against this is Ayesha’s stated reference to Ad Reinhardt’s iconic black painting, Abstract Painting (1963) as an instructive communication of purity and silence with a not-always-apparent geometric structure operating below the surface. This painting was a break with a fashionable formalism of the day, and reaches for atemporality and ahistoricism through a monochromatic (or in fact colourless) endless expanse. In “Quiet Contemplations” Ayesha uses nature as the expanse and the editing of the sound wave as an underlying geometric structure.  Footsteps at once disrupt and offer a guide or edge for this notion of ‘nature’. “Quiet Contemplations” could be heard as an impractical attempt to capture ‘room tone’ in the world. Ayesha signposts to place towards the end of the piece, but ultimately situates their gathering-of-nothing-and-everything simply outside or beyond. “Quiet Contemplations” is a singular and momentary meditation on nature as it drops in and out of an impossible universalism.

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Ayesha Barmania is an independent journalist, sound designer and audio producer based in Peterborough, Ontario. Their work has been broadcast on CBC Radio and in many independent podcasts, as well as published in Canadian magazines and newspapers. They are the host of the Sounds Like Life audio art podcast and the Peterborough Currents current affairs podcast. Find them on Twitter @AyeshaBarmania.

Ayesha is working on a collection of spatial audio recordings that will be released as an album on Bandcamp some time in 2019. Watch their website and Twitter for those. "