Eric Hall and Alarm Will Sound use digital conversations as compositional roadmap | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Hall and Alarm Will Sound use digital conversations as compositional roadmap

May 12, 2016

Dogs barking, water boiling and being poured, and rough recordings are not the sounds most listeners associate with musical powerhouse Alarm Will Sound. Yet its current collaboration with local electronic musician Eric Hall incorporates those ambient sounds in new project. 

Hall’s composition explores the messiness of digital communication. To that end, Hall asked the group's members to take an unexpected approach to recording.

“If they practice at home while their cat is circling their foot trying to get their attention or the phone rings or the refrigerator rattles, or whatever happens  I wanted that to be a part of it the same way it’s a part of what influences their interactions,” said Hall.

Hall and Alarm Will Sound will debut their collaboration Saturday night at Mad Art Gallery in the Soulard neighborhood. The event will include additional performances by solo members of the group and local act 18andCounting. The collaboration also produced a sound installation titled “wav. superposition.” Hall’s inspiration for the project stems from his struggle with the fractured process of communicating by digital media such as email, skype, and text. While Hall planned the compositions, his frustration with the problems of sharing emails and texts with the 16-member group took over.

“Basically I just started day-dreaming about how to turn that into a work of music itself,” he said.

Diffraction ≉ Refraction (First Rehearsal) from Eric Hall on Vimeo.

To produce the piece, Hall presented Alarm Will Sound's members with four requirements:

  1.  Play four notes in a specific chordal structure.
  2.  Emphasize the lowest note in the sequence.
  3.  Document these sounds using simple recording options like iPhones or Skype.
  4.  Feel free to disregard the other 3 rules.

The result? Individual members of Alarm Will Sound presented Hall with recordings filled with the sounds of making tea, walking down the street, rehearsing in a living room, bending notes and echo-filled recordings. 

Alarm Will Sound rehearses for collaboration with another local musician, Adult Fur. This performance took place May 2015.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Hall will present the finished pieces on 16 speakers as various recordings are looped to resemble a crowded conversation. He’ll also manipulate parts of these recordings during his live performance while members of Alarm Will Sound improvise alongside. 18andCounting will take a similar approach and will be joined by his band as well. 

The program begins at 7 p.m. Full disclosure: Hall's music is used in the podcast Cut & Paste.