aquifer of the weave

It’s not often that I get to experience a totally brand new thing in my field. Yes, every project requires individual care and planning, and that’s part of why I love what I do. But in this case, I was able to be a part of a project that utilizes new techniques in spatial audio. Let me back up.

I’ve worked with James Allister Sprang on a number of projects. We met at the beginning of the pandemic, and worked virtually by sending files back and forth. This was our first in person project, and in many ways, all of our collaborative projects have been building up to Aquifer of the Weave, a 45 minute immersive experience with dynamic lighting and immersive audio, all centered around a massive weaving of cyanotypes.

Every part of the audio piece of the project was different than a conventional recording. To start, everything had to be mic’d in stereo. The spatial audio software required this, and we wanted to be able to have the option of hearing sound sources left to right and top to bottom (inverted stereo). We recorded all of the music one night at The Bunker in Brooklyn, a beautiful studio with a killer Steinway and a deep deep mic closet (two FET U47s on the kick drum made for one of the best kick sounds I’ve ever recorded).

We mixed everything down to a conventional stereo mix, but also to 8 stereo sources that James could use to throw around the space to the 8 speakers surrounding the audience, above and below. I had the immense honor to experience a preview performance this past weekend, and it was truly incredible. The weave is the centerpiece, and what’s amazing is how it doesn’t move, but with the lighting and sound swirling around, it feels like the piece does move. Shapes and images pop out at different times, accompanied by beautiful piano, Rhodes, drum, and guitar textures. It’d be easy to lose oneself during the piece, which I think is completely OK. James recommended some breathing patterns before it began, as one could experience Aquifer of the Weave as a 45 minute meditation.

I’m so glad I made the trip to Queens to take in the piece. James did a great job of painting the picture of the finished work for me while we were mixing, but it was a little hard to imagine how it would all come together while only listening to a stereo audio mix of the music. This piece is meant to be seen, heard, and felt in the space in which it is currently installed. The show runs for the next couple of weeks – I definitely recommend getting over there if you’re able.

James Sprang is the real deal, and I’m so glad he has chosen to work with me on this project. I learned a ton and truly enjoyed the problem solving aspect of all the special considerations needed for this project.