Recently I was asked to record sounds of an art installation Blackground by Mateusz Chorobski. It’s a black surface of container full of water, which you can walk or lie on.
Kind of a black hole in the city center. Because of amount of water in it, it makes many splashy, gurgling sounds which resonates inside the container.
The installation was located close to busy road, which made contemplation of it much harder and made it harder to record too. I wanted to try recording with hydrophone and contact mic plus some close shotgun mic takes.
So here is how it sounded from above, walking on and hitting it:
[Neumann KMR 81 & KM 120 MS pair | Sound Devices 702]
It came up that contact mic attached to it didn’t record anything really interesting. Just bumps, shakes of the surface and friction of wires. No water at all. I think it was because it’s built from something like gum, which is too thin and elastic. Contact mics prefer harder surfaces and even though it’s kind of membrane, it didn’t pick up anything useful. Using contact mics is always experimenting, which is amazing and fun.
But hydrophone worked great. We slipped it inside through valve and it gave us what we expected:
[Aquarian Audio H2a | Sound Devices MixPre | Sony PCM D50]
But speaking with the author before recording I came up with an idea of using physical resonators and putting mics inside of them. I wanted to create sound of being inside of something, to express in sound the idea of a hole in the city center.
Inspired by David Lynch technique used for recording music for Lost Highway pointed by Tim Prebble, I took some bottles and carafes of different shapes with me to record ambience of the place. Inside I slipped DPA 4060 mics. At the moment we wore headphones to check levels, we felt in love with the sound.
Every bottle gave different tonality:
[DPA 4060 | Sound Devices 702]
And mix of all resonators (no additional processing used):
I’m a big fan of using convolution reverbs, but reality can be much more interesting. And process of getting those sounds is the same exciting.