Fake Radiolab Ep# 4 “We’ve Been Cancelled!” (Emory CompFest / Chicago Experimental Sound Studio “Quarantine Concert” series)
Fake Radiolab is the name of an ongoing performance project in which we irreverently adopt the mannerisms and mania of radiophonic personalities and media genres (e.g., YouTube rants, ASMR sessions, self-help narrations, dream sequences, radio plays, podcasts, nature documentaries) to playfully/seriously jar the clarity and authority imparted to “content” by contemporary audio production. Acting as (unreliable) hosts of a live podcast, we present a kind of musicalized speech performance that juxtaposes multiple modes of audio narration against live synths, violin, and sampled audio fragments.
Before the pandemic, we had presented Fake Radiolab in New York City and Miami as a live performance act: a (purported) live radio podcast taking place during an experimental music concert. This past fall, we shifted our focus to the recording studio, and in December 2020 (along with Adam’s wife, Rimona, as guest vocalist) we recorded new material towards an eventual album release. Recording the act further amplified already existing de-synchronizations between live and pre-recorded that infused all aspects of the “sonic matter” of the original project. From the get-go, the musical material of the title track was a clash of two domains: we live-improvised over a backing track of pre-recorded audio creating an audio mish-mash, a sound collage of our own voiceover alongside other audio fragments.
Operating remotely in preparation for CompFest 2021 introduced a new layer of audio production to our signal chain, and along with it, the possibility for further interventions, ambiguities, and manipulations. The Zoom era has established a curious free-floating sense of being with others, privately public and connected through our disconnectedness. Split by monitor screens and widely tolerated unreliability of latency, software, and individual setups, no one will experience a concert-session in the same way. This is true even for the two performers who perform “together” separated by 865 miles of highway and the minimum theoretical latency of 4.6 milliseconds accrued by the digital data traveling at the speed of light. In practical terms, the audio streaming plugin Listento by Audiomovers (suggested for these concerts by Katie Young: see boundarymind, CompFest Day 2) allows us to broadcast our audio to each other as well as to our host re-streamer, the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, at a latency no lower than 100ms, which is about the time it takes to get from the end
of one word to the beginning of the next . . . unless, of course, you think about it too much, in which case it begins to affect your performance by introducing a thought-latency, which itself can induce innumerable other forms of feedback-related issues, difficult to diagnose or treat. (Is there space-time enough in the Grove entry to describe chamber music version 2.0?) With further internal system latency and additional multi-camera video feeds sent separately through OBS into a separate Skype session, the only thing we can be sure of is that no one will hear or see the same thing as anyone else.
As we sit in our living rooms/offices/kitchens/cars listening to a concert while cooking/cleaning/taking care of our kids/pets/selves, we may find each other here/there/around trying to answer the question that echoes through the mic channel someone mistakenly left on, unmuted in some other open Zoom session (you can have two open at once), a question that may occupy our minds and prompt us in turn to question the sound of the voice/s coming out over our laptop’s tinny speakers even as the sound of the voice/s inside our heads simmers softly into the sounds of the internet itself humming sweetly along perhaps alone blissfully uncaring and triumphant: just how meta you wanna getta?
Fake RadioLab, Ep #3 “Studio NYC”: follow-up residency recording at Mise-En_Place, NYC. Somewhere online there may exist an Instagram live recording…
Fake RadioLab, Ep #2 “Church Radio”: an intro/opener for a concert of experimental music in Miami, co-organized with with composer Jue Wang.