Monday, August 13, 2018

Departing Pitchfork editor Mark Richardson signs off with the final edition of his long-running Resonant Frequency column - a meditation about sound-cocooning, listening-in-motion, and silence.


Never was that big a fan of the "walk" bit in Walkman - I like to hear the sounds of the city, or Nature, not be sealed off or shielded from them. But I have enjoyed static outdoor listening (the beach - one vivid memory to match Mark's many examples would be listening to "Gesture Without Motion" by Neil Trix by the shore of Shelter Island). And I do love cocooned-listening while travelling, particularly trains and planes.

One problem with this private-yet-public listening, though, is that you can be so immersively  wrapped up in / rapt by the music, so affected, that some kind of physical response is demanded.  A facial expression, a gesture, a flourish of "air" instrumentation - guitar lick, drum roll - or some kind of sitting-down-version of dancing.  Perhaps even singing along or an MC / ad lib style outburst. But you are surrounded on all sides by strangers!  You can either allow yourself to be inhibited by their presence and listen in this sort of "internally turbulent", externally impassive, expressionless / motionless way -  which is  frustrating, possibly unhealthy even. Or you can go "fuck it, it's highly unlikely I will ever see any of these fellow passengers again" and allow yourself the odd physically demonstrative  reaction to the sonic peak experiences you are undergoing. Increasingly, I find myself going for the second of these options. This is a roundabout way of apologising to anybody who has ever sat in my vicinity on a train or a plane.