Resonating metal surfaces, chains, paper, thin strips of wood, a broken radio, small battery powered oscillators and a floor tom. Passing cars outside the window. Silence. One microphone recording it all.
Recorded in Chicago, December 2015.
Noise Not Music
Small scale, object-based improvisations often create the most immersive and intimate sound-worlds, which depending on the approach of the artist(s) can be soothing and peaceful, raucous and overwhelming, or anything in between. Not only do the improvisers control the sounds they produce but also the level of prominence with which they are presented; amplification plays a key role in these delicate performances, and can either isolate the sound objects in question from their surrounding environment or allow for seamless intermingling. With A Realistic Morning Prayer, the first collaboration between sound artists Derek Baron and Zoots Houston, it’s a bit of both. The well-captured minuscule texture selections of resonant metal, miscellaneous percussion, trivial objects, broken gadgets, chimes, and miniature oscillators map out a detailed environment, confined to a small area but given further reach via the movements of the devices in and out of the recording field as well as the creaks and clunks of the performance surface. But as I mentioned, there’s no forced claustrophobia, no artificial extrication from circumambience. We hear passing cars in the distance, gusts of air past the window: a wider universe in which these sonic events occur, not necessarily emphasized but present nonetheless.
Derek Baron makes intimate music, often by weaving instrumentation with field recordings. (…) A Realistic Morning Prayer, created alongside Zoots Houston, is a half hour exercise in small percussive gestures. The most evocative moments come from when we hear a broken radio or are left in silence. That either can provide such drama is a testament to both artists’ restraint: their playing feels at once robust and delightfully simple.
(The Wire, January 2020, pag. 57)