Steve PetersEmanations

Steve Peters - Emanations album cover
Label:OODiscs – OO34
CD, Album
Style:Abstract, Experimental, Minimal, Ambient


1Emanations, Part 16:38
2Emanations, Part 210:35
3Emanations, Part 37:39
4Emanations, Part 46:25
5Emanations, Part 53:59
6Emanations, Part 66:07
7Emanations, Part 71:53
8Emanations, Part 810:10
9Emanations, Part 95:30
10Emanations, Part 108:06



Pure feedback tones hovering on the edge of audibility. Made for a gallery installation with visual artist Claire Giovanniello, but also inspired by a series of white paintings by Agnes Martin.

Recorded January 1996.
Re-mixed July 1997.

from the liner notes:

Acoustic feedback - the often piercing "howl" produced when a microphone comes within close proximity to a speaker which is amplifying it - is generally considered to be an unwanted and unpleasant occurance. But I've always appreciated the inherently lively characteristics of this electro-acoustic phenomenon, the purity of the tones it produces, its simplicity and unpredictablity. For many years I've used feedback in live performances and in the recording studio, trying to transform something unruly and "problematic" into something beautiful and expressive.

Emanations was originally concieved as a sound installation to acompany Claire Giovanniello's white paintings wrapped in gauze, and elegant sculptural works consisting of nails and thin aluminum rods driven into the gallery walls in preceise geometric patterns. Just as Claire's work plays with the notion of where the wall ends and the art begins, I wanted to construct an ethereal sonic presence existing on the boundary between sound and air: not really "music", but a kind of vapor, something very pure yet almost absent. I also wanted the sound to be directly related to the acoustic signature of the gallery space itself - the dominant resonant frequencies of the room as determined by its size, shape, contents, and the reflective qualities of the wall surfaces.

These resonant frequencies wer articulated via feedback made with a stereo microphone, a graphic equalizer, and a small PA system. Each frequency band of the EQ was pulled up one at a time, and whichever tone happed to feed back naturally on a given band was recorded. Fourteen of these tones were selected to produce a relatively equal ratio of consonant and dissonant harmonic intervals. No electronic effects of studio manipulations were use to treat this basic material beyond the control of volume, duration and location of each tone on the master tape. Compositional decisions were made intuitively while assembling the piece in the studio.

Emanations is intended to be heard at extremely low volume for very long durations, using the "repeat" function of the CD player to create a continuous sound environment. The long silences which occur periodically throughout the piece are not meant to divide it into distinct sections; I think of them as place where the sound has simply evaporated for a few moments, gradually resuming its shape and returning to our field of awareness.




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