Musique Concrete is a composition technique that mixes raw recordings of sounds – squeeky hinges, rusty doorknobs – into celestial, eerie music. Tape loop artist Robin the Fog – one half of Musique Concrete group Howlround – met with Hook Research to talk about his work and the process behind creating his art.
How can we tap into these ‘hidden worlds’ and use them as a source of creative inspiration?
The Sound of Time and Space Being Rent Asunder
“I often think that there’s this hidden world of sound all around us – and we don’t know it’s there necessarily.
The example I always use is the Tardis noise – you know, the Doctor Who time travel machine. The noise, the sound of it, the brief was that we want the sound of time and space itself being rent asunder. And the solution – back then – was a front door key and a broken piano wire. So what I always tell people is that if you can do that – if you can make the sound of time and space being rent asunder with a front door key and a piano wire – imagine what you could do with just about everything else.
Finding Musique Concrete in the Mundane
I think a lot of my work is inspired by playing with that idea a little bit, with this idea of ‘this is what we think things actually sound like’.
Howlround is a duo. It’s myself and my friend Chris. What we do is record sounds on tape, listen back to the tape, we find that part we want, and then we cut the sound. So we actually have a piece of tape with the sound we want on it. And then we use a piece of splicing tape to connect the two ends and then we have a loop.
But the nice thing about it is that it’s always slightly different. If you have a loop on a computer you can loop that forever, and it will just play exactly the same each time. But on tape, the tape starts to change the more you play it.
There’s a hidden life that objects can have, or different spaces can have. I’m hoping that people will look at the kind of mundane everyday sounds around them and maybe view them in a different light. Sometimes all it takes is for you to change your way of listening only slightly and suddenly there’s this whole world of additional, extra sounds that you never noticed before. Hopefully it will be quite an experience.”