A Few of my Waking Times

Words by Toshimaru Nakamura

[text 1]

I’ve just started writing this text on the bus heading on the highway to Narita / Tokyo airport. Using a small computer, a hand-held PC — is that what this is called? This produces tapping sounds when its keyboard is pressed. It’s an artificial sound, imitating the noise typewriters make. Am I feeling good with it? I don’t know, but I guess the producers of this computer designed the tapping noise to make users feel good. Ergonomic design or something like that, I guess. It’s not bad. At least I could tell myself that I’m using my own PC, not someone else’s old genuine typewriter, and it’s not loud enough to bother others who are travelling on the bus. Those old machines make key sounds unwillingly. A machine makes noise due to its mechanism. But it is a human being that makes them make noise by typing the keys. Collaboration? How beautiful we are! Now, people need noise even from something which doesn’t really make it. I heard that car producers even design and tune the sound of motor and/or door slamming to satisfy car lovers’ egos. And now they are worried about electric automobiles because they are technically very quiet. They are so quiet that they could be dangerous for pedestrians. Oh, I respect and admire the endless effort in technology for ‘better’ living time. We really need your help from everything to everything, Ms./Mr. Machinery.

The bus is gliding along the highway. Constant road noise tells me that there is no traffic jam, so far. I won’t be late for my flight if it stays like this until the end of my journey. The hum from outside or somewhere below the bus makes me sleepy. Anyway. I am sleepy. I woke up this morning quite early. I hope I’m not too tired when I’m on stage. This sleepiness and/or tiredness might turn into some kind of noise inside me. It doesn’t take its shape so clearly, thankfully. Or, would it be interesting or maybe useful if it says, ‘Hey, I’m representing your fatigue with this sound. Hear me, know me?’ Even with some melody, some singing?

No, it’d be terrible if things were so determined. All these road noises, a motor roaring, the helpful and useful recorded announcement through the speakers on the wall in the bus, all these sounds which I have to get through in order to reach the stage where I’m supposed to perform won’t affect my music.

 

Feedback video images: Billy Roisz

Feedback video images: Billy Roisz

[text 2]

After I indulged my eager inclination to surrender myself to dozing off, now I’m typing again, writing, tapping, laptopping fake artificial electronic imitating mechanical noise. Then I start thinking that what I‘m writing is not very important: what is important is the fact that I’m making noise with these tiny actions, only a few centimetres up and down with my fingers. So, I dare try to enjoy making noise. Maybe, just typing keys, not typing for writing. Typing only for making noise. iAjAyqoeucdbayuensivnsvnuhwondudnamq oznfbdusoabf…..

I hope there won’t come a day when this order and combination of letters reveals to me any meaning. It should stay meaningless. But at least I’ve got to know even a no-hard-disc-computer can make sound.

On the airplane, an occasional trip on the seat in the executive class area. The seat is quite differently equipped from the ones in the economy class area which I usually sleep on, the food is different too. But the sound in the room is pretty much the same. Just noisy. I needed just ear plugs to fall asleep. Pairs are even distributed in this area before I take my own out from my baggage. I wear them. As they expand inside my earholes, the sounds are absorbed. I feel like the air around me is captured and packed within their foamy material. Air becomes solid state. OK, I’m pouched in solid air and going back to my sleep.

 

[text 3]

I woke up as I felt something had touched my feet. Still in the cabin on the aircraft? As a young executive in the executive class area on the Japan Air Line flight? Ah no, I found myself in a rented bus heading to a festival site in a valley among the Alps in Austria which I am supposed to perform tomorrow as an underground musician. The festival is not an underground one, though, I suppose. Again on the highway. Again on the bus. The same kind of road noise. Is it what all my tour is about? A motor, wheels, wind. Constant explosion of fossil gas in a small metal room. Series of saying hellos and goodbyes exchanged by rubber and hard surface. Never-stopping conflicts between air against glass and metal objects. They are all mingled into the whole of the roaring hum. I hear some details. Small and subtle. But they are all left behind as the bus keeps speeding. Martin who’s driving the bus is using window washer liquid. Tiny bubbles are moving upward on the window shield. Those bubbles must be popping and sparkling. But I hear nothing. I hear some things rattling in the car. Subtle tiny movements above the roar, breathing in somewhere like endangered species. But most of these are covered and hidden under the mainstream noise. There must be many things I am missing. I see an enormous chunk of rock at a great distance. Maybe the edge of the Alps. Standing quite upright it must be tough to keep its spine like that. Hey, take it easy. Oh no, she/he is mighty enough to keep her/his position. Strong wind must be blowing up there. But I hear nothing. I’m just hearing this constant roar.

 

[text 4]

So, the sound check. This is something I don’t like, but I know it’s necessary. Yes, like it or not you have to take it OK. I’ll do it in the shortest manner. I just check all the hookups, and if my L is allocated to their R, and if it’s not too loud for the house. I just don’t want to blow up any speakers. That’s what savages do. I don’t. That’s it. It takes only 25 minutes if everything goes well. 20 minutes for building up and wiring up and down, 5 minutes for getting sound. Hmmm, sounds cool. But, it doesn’t happen like this all the time. Something wrong happens. OK, let’s solve the problem. I just said if everything goes well, it takes 25 minutes. I don’t mind if I have to do it for an hour. I just wanted to say, every room has its own acoustic. Every house has a different sound system. In some rooms you hear more high. In some others you feel your sound far and sparse. Those differences might change your music in some way. So what? Difference could be fun. I don’t see the point spending hours of time just to try to get closer to a sound that you think is familiar to you; or the sound you believe perfect. So I will go and nap some more.

5

[text 5]

I find myself on stage in front of small electric/electronic gizmos with tiny knobs, lights and buttons. Even right after my nap, I recognize this is what I am here for. The fans of the amplifiers are loud now. Some fans are designed to be switched on automatically when the audio signal reaches a certain level, then turned off when the signal goes below the level. Yes, it makes sense. Amplifiers need cooling when the audio is at a hot level, and when the music is hot, people won’t hear fans. But I have my internal problem. I sometimes produce an almost inaudible signal which is electrically fairly hot. Then fans start. You hear only fans. This is quite bizarre, I thought when I first experienced it. No musical sound but fans. They are not designed for my music. OK then. I’ll play the fans. This is sort of fun. I find. I could convince myself that I am enjoying it.

Compared to playing fans, playing feedback is quite unpredictable. You can’t be a feedback improviser when you have your brains filled with your big beautiful pictures prior to your performance. If you show up to the venue like that you won’t have any fun. I understand I go onto the stage to get lost. I expect it somehow, in one half of my mind. I often lose my awareness of who does what. One ‘who’ is the nо-input mixing board (my set up for acquiring feedbacks), and the other ‘who’ is me.

Am I playing the machines? Or, are these machines playing me? Even while I am out of my awareness and/or consciousness, the music keeps going on. It seems like there’s quite an equal relationship between these machines and me. And also I find the same degree of equality between my music and me. I don’t actually care who is which and which is who.

My skin is not sound proof. My body is permeable and translucent. Why can’t sound travel in and out?