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Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, and Panaiotis



With the advent of synthesized electronics and computers, it seems that just about any sound can be achieved on one's desktop with the proper equipment and a fast enough processor. However, sometimes that's not what creating music is all about. Sometimes creating music is about being strapped into a harness and lowered into an empty two million gallon, 186-foot diameter water cistern. This is precisely what experimental artists Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, and Panaiotis did one foggy morning in October of 1988. The result, Deep Listening, is a unique recording wherein the location of the recording is as much an instrument as any of the objects used to create the sounds heard in each piece.

In Suiren, whistling, a garden hose, and the human voice combine with the cistern's 45-second natural reverberation to create a disorienting and hypnotic blend of space and sound. It could be a call to prayer, a song of mourning, or the rumblings of an ancient culture. The soothing and unnerving sounds of Suiren ebb and flow in a way that is at once organic and alien: listening to the swirling layers, you'd swear that there is an organ, or a synthesizer, or at least a load of digital processing involved. But you'd be wrong. In fact, this eerie, atmospheric music is a remarkable combination of attentively interacting performers and a very special acoustic space.