Loren Chasse

Pacific Diary

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le 26.11.2007 à 06:00 · par Benjamin A.

It's hard to find a better destination to play music than the australian and new zealand islands. During the year 2007, the californian artist, Loren Chasse, went to the other side of the Pacific ocean. He has accepted to give here unreleased excerpts of the sounds he has recorded during this safari, made of concerts, performances, wanderings and field recordings. A part of this diary is sonorous, headphones listening is highly recommended...

In the midst of traveling, the details seem so permanently fixed and ordered: the name of the place where we stopped for a coffee and the conversation we had there; a sequence of streets and stairways the day of the climb above the city; the name of the ticket agent and the name of the junkshop’s resident cat; a native word I learned for the whistling bone; ducking into the sandstorm at _?_beach; the song playing over the car stereo when the full moon slid from behind a peak…. But these stones have all been moved! Recollecting now, in early October, when the light here in northern California has evolved to become much like that in the places of a summer, looking through photos and drawings, listening to recorded sounds, I find that the sequences of events and the names of things isn’t all that important to me. All the objects, at one time outside of me, subject to my touch, my ear, my eye, and responsive to my voice, have all been subsumed. How could I ever forget this? I once had said.

Geothermal Footpath 1

On what might have been the first true footpath of summer, I chose a rock from a dried up creek bed and recorded the sound it made when ground circularly against another, much larger rock. I liked the crude drawing that had been left behind.

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Warm raindrops snapped the leaves on the path of a heath and elsewhere a gate rang on its rusty hinge.

I had stopped and read many of the letters posted along the shadowy corridor of the shrine. Photos too, and bits of clothing--even eyeglasses, had been left for the Saint at The Well. And water must still pour from the web-filled chink in the wall....

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Not having yet found a place to stay for the night, we looked north along the coast after the long drive out of town, far away from potential places to sleep. A common telephone wire pole seemed so monumental in that moment. A voice on the sea.


Effectively waterproofed beneath a jacket and hood, I indulged in stopping for many long moments to watch things below me transform, splinter, and moan in the inlets of the coast.

At the end of each performance, the materials I had collected on my walks in the latitudes of that particular city—the shells and sand, pebbles, needles, bits and leaves—were left behind and arranged on the paper according to some decisions I had made about sound.

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Despite the familiar context—the airplane window--I can’t be sure of what it is I’m looking at? Patterns in sand and light, yet where there’s water I so impulsively see only a landscape scaled down to my roll of paper. I recall that day in Auckland running around from store after store looking for the ‘perfect’ roll—50 meters long, about a meter wide, white, light gauge so it would crinkle easily. Similarly, months earlier, a chase after a roll of paper led me and a friend to encounter several unforgettable characters, including a guard of the Black Watch, on the outskirts of Dundee.

The sun having just set through the interstices of the eucalyptus, new timbres emanate from among the hammers of the toy piano. A microphone perched on a boom stand and the smoke from a grill dramatically influences the mood of the picnic grove.

We are warned about unexpected dangers along the geothermal footpaths.

I take the picture specifically for a friend of mine whom I can imagine might turn such an image into a woodcut for one of his album covers.

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No matter how many times I have seen the image of this creature, to behold it unexpectedly, mundane upon a limb, fills my heart with true awe.

Paths through mud-vents

There’s nothing that references the scale. I like how recorded sound may become like this—detached enough from its original context and amplified in such a way that its body completely changes size. Now, at what distance from the object do I see or listen?

At times I feel silly crouched with the microphone as if something important is happening. If it’s that I’m self-conscious about being observed, at least on that day, in the Hidden Valley, by the mud pools, I had the luxury of being nearly alone.

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Inspired by the success of creating various crude (and filmless) light phenomena for the film festival, I find myself playing with flashlights and common household objects in almost every guest room I occupy for the remaining weeks of summer. Christine’s seashell and dental floss branch mobile made the perfect present for Sarah and Swagger Jack that rainy winter night at their house after the Happy show.

Ov - Auckland

Oh basket fungus! Why won’t you make a sound?

The surface of the lake behaved like some immense resonant membrane, amplifying a snap of a branch and the birdsong from its shoreline forests. Listening from beneath the pier, I notice a car pull up to the beach, idle momentarily, and then drive slowly away.

The warehouse finally cleared of listeners on that last rainy night of our visit, I shook the bits of shell and brown sugar crystals from the cymbal and sat down as our friend described his week preparing to play Roy Harper’s “The Same Old Rock”.

Coming back from dinner in the pouring rain, we notice how the tree outside our room at the Garden Motel glows as if it were a filmic apparition . Lights have been set in the ground below it so as to create this effect. A male and female duck stand in the wet grass as water pours by along the curb.

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Beyond the water tower over Wanganui, a massive snow-covered peak seems to float on a ridge of cloud.

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The sculpture sings under influence of a ring or coin dragged along a section of one of its rebar rods.

Naturestrip—in Australia, the name used to describe the border landscapes parallel to roads and their neighboring footpaths and sidewalks.

We’ve found that things close early here in winter. In the countryside the towns are mostly dark by nightfall and restaurants are scarce. After arriving from the ferry in late afternoon and heading north in our car for several hours, we realize we should stop soon for food before reaching the Desert Road. One darkened town after another, a suspense builds as we pull up to the pub at the glowing intersection. Inside, we are greeted by the proprietor, Mike, and the cook offers us fish sticks and corndogs before shutting down the kitchen. Mike and his handful of regulars seem happy to have us and after a bit of small talk, some Cat Stevens and a live Eagles video, he invites us up the road to see his new Corvette recently arrived from Texas. In the garage, a battered rifle hangs on the wall and he tells us his father had found it in the bush. “Are you guys squeamish?” he asks. From here he leads us to a small hatchback parked outside the pub. A radio blares from inside. He tells us as he opens the door that out of habit,he always leaves his radio playing. From the glovebox he lifts a long object wrapped in newspaper. It contains something his father also acquired in the bush: a well-worn human femur.

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