Lapses (dream quests)

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This is a piece which was begun at Hospitalfield house in Arbroath, during an interdisciplinary artists residency in May 2018. Details of myself and the other residents can be found here.

The piece was created using a combination of tape loops and field recordings. The loops are made from music I have created over the last ten years as Jake Lake (with collaborators). Chosen songs were recorded to cassette tape which was then cut into 5 second looping strips. The process was deliberately imprecise. It resulted in the creation of 300 loops or grains, each focusing in on a 5 second segment of a track, rescuing it from it’s original form and recontextualising it into something new, the tape itself adding an eerie and imperfect analogue quality to the grains.

The field recordings were recorded (mainly) at Hospitalfield House. Almost every sound you hear has been stretched or elongated in some way. Particularly the birdsong. I recorded a lot of different birds for the piece, and found that when you stretch out a sample of a bird call, not only does it expose these incredible notes and fluctuations normally too fast for our ears to hear, but it also expands the space around the call, lending it a deep and lonesome feel.

Original this work was intended to explore my past and present practices, examining how different temporal periods haunt one another, and it is true it does do this, however, for me it ended up exploring something more personal.

The piece explores the relationship between myself and Jake Lake. Lake is a moniker I created in roughly 2007, a name under which I could produce music which would be the antithesis of my own name (unique and ungainly as it is). As the years rolled on I produced much work as Jake, however, since completing an MSc in Sound Design in the last few years, I felt Jake Lake’s output waning, as Nick’s technical skills grew, and he began to develop his style (exploring practices such as the creation non-linear resampling systems) which was markedly distinct from Jake’s. In a way, I expected this piece to bring about the death of Jake Lake. I thought that he might continue to haunt future work, but that his main output would be completed. And I was satisfied with this. However, as the work on this piece unfolded, I found myself in crisis with it. I was hearing it, but not knowing it, Having control but no direction. Then, unsure if I would ever be satisfied with the piece I spoke with a friend and collaborator (Donald James) at length about the piece. While we spoke he listened to what existed of it, and he opened the door for me. He had a vivid imaginative response to the piece, describing a journey, which to him the piece described, seeing/hearing imagery where I only heard process. And this helped to liberate me from the technical mire my mind was in. Not only this, but it helped me to realise the creative balance between my two outputs: Nick is technical, Jake is imaginative. To inhibit one is to do a undermine the other, and that is, unknowingly, exactly what I had done. Even with the title of the piece. Originally it was known as ‘Lapses’, but to me this spoke only of the process and the technical construction of the piece, it was Donald’s ‘dream quest’ that helped me understand Jake’s input on the piece, and which allowed Nick to let go and be swept away on a dark tide lit by motes of phosphorescence, to wash up on the shore of a land of giant, quiet insects, glowing mushrooms and falling dust. To see camp fires in the snow and the mist, and hear whales playing in the wake the wake the wakeful night.