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for accordion, voice, conch shell, metal pieces, trombone, didjeridu, garden hose, whistling, metal pipes
Recorded in the bottom of a cistern that once held two million gallons of water, the creators took full advantage of their environment's 45-second reverb time.
--Best Recordings of the Year, Pulse!
A warden approached us as we prepared to descend 14 feet down into the 186 foot diameter cistern that once held 2 million gallons of water. The warden reproached us for parking a van on the dirt covered ceiling. Pot holes suggested that perhaps the ceiling was not so stable. Once we had made our decent and after my eyes had adjusted to the dim cavern, I realized almost at once that the warden had probably never been inside: the cavernous cylinder is made of reenforced concrete with more pillars per square yard than a skyscraper. The water tank, built in 1970 on an army base, was probably designed to withstand heavy bombing. Our van was the equivalent of a mosquito on a housetop.
The remarkable thing about the acoustic space is the long reverb, which could approach 45 seconds, and the lack of slap echoes and distinct early reflections that are often characteristic of large cathedrals; only pure, smooth reverb, the type that can be simulated electronically but is thought to be unrealistic and fantastical.
The space is real, and unique. A large cathedral will return slap echoes and uneven resonance characteristics. The cistern showed a very smooth frequency response and no echoes, only a smooth reverberation, the amplitude of which appears to begin at the same decibel level as the source. Consequently, it is impossible to tell where the performer stops and the reverberation takes over. One additional aspect of the reverberation field that does not seem to record easily and which makes simulation very difficult, is that it slowly moved from the sound source along the walls until it enveloped the listener: a most remarkable and beautiful phenomena.
Simply one of the most pure and unfettered albums of 1989.
1. Lear 24:48
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