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The bleary, blurry, bleaky MV Carbon has been a staple of the New York avant-garde since relocating here from Chicago in the mid-’00s. After lurching up from the No Fun circuit as one half of Metalux, she’s been renown for her nauseous reel-to-reel tape manipulations and cello sawing—which you could catch everywhere from a residency at Issue Project Room, scoring Warhol films at the Metropolitan or the P.S. 1 Warm Up. Her latest solo outing, Dislodged Perehelion (released via Ecstatic Peace and limited to 300 copies), is a bowel-twisting slurry of decaying tapenoize, shimmering synths, broken drum machine loops and Carbon’s no wave yowl. “Sidewalk Scrapes” is a busy splatter painting where you can hear traces of Sonic Youth’s Goo-crunch and Lydia Lunch’s downtown sniping deep inside a dizzying swamp of noise, not to mention a fairly rocking sample of some ’80s mersh-metal.
What inspired “Sidewalk Scrape” musically?
At the time when I was working on this I had a lot of unfettered time to get into the zone. A lot of my inspiration was drawn from the loud sounds that took over my thoughts in the city. I was living in Bushwick and the J train blew directly by my living room every 10 minutes or so. There was also a jackhammer going off every morning at 8 a.m. on the roof next door. These were my immediate inspirations. The past influences draw from the “sound” a lot of vintage garage rock bands had, as well as psychedelic rock and noise music.
What is it about?
It’s about living in New York City and becoming saturated with the vast forms of stimuli and influence it emits. It’s about the role of the visionary and the embellishments and archetypes procured from their creativeness…. I usually start writing lyrics with vivid imagery in mind and try to portray that abstractly. I want to provoke the listener’s imagination. In this song, I was thinking about how language and expression is very unique within its social concentricity, and about who created it, who adopted it and how it flows and catches on. I envisioned a sidewalk with insignia carved into it and someone falling onto it and getting a cut on their knee in the form of the insignia. I was visualizing beauty and contamination in the form of an embossment on the flesh.
How was this track constructed? What is the rocking part that kicks in at 2:37?
I started off recording a bunch of guitar tracks in a large open space. Some of the sounds were recorded in a factory in Ohio. I started weaving these sounds together intuitively with analog synths and tape manipulations. I built on them over time and added the vocals last. I combed through this track hundreds of times to get it where it is. It’s funny you ask about the “rocking” part at 2:37 because that is the only sound on the whole record that I did not create from my own instruments. The drum parts that were sampled at 2:37 were done from the radio to the reel-to-reel. It’s a short sample from some popular ’80’s rock band. I can’t place who it was now though. Def Leppard or the likes? Do you recognize it?
How old were you when you fell in love with tape manipulation? What were some of your formative experiences?
When I was a kid around 13 or so I would frequently play around with the tape recorder. I would record random words on the tape and sounds from the radio and then play them back to see how it sounded on different speeds. I fell in love with those soundscapes then. About 10 years later, a friend gave me a three-head, reel-to-reel tape recorder. I started playing cello and doing voice through it to create feedback loops and spatial sound. I rarely leave home for a performance without it. Not that original one though, I’ve gone through about eight of them since then.
You’re composing something for The String Orchestra of Brooklyn? Will it be a detour for you?
For this commission, Issue Project Room chooses non-traditional or experimental composers to write pieces that will be performed by the string orchestra at St. Anne’s Church in Brooklyn Heights. This is an exciting process for me. I come from a mildly “learned” musical background but the music I perform and write strives to challenge the “learned” form of playing. This project has pushed me into working with creative ways to translate my sonic ideas onto paper in a manner that can be correctly interpreted by others. It’s an interesting project because it is making me take a mechanical-maniacal form of expression and dissect into tangible notation. I don’t think this will create a detour in my work but hopefully a ramp.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in NYC?
Opening two consecutive sets for Merzbow, October 2010. I played cello, electronics and tape machine in a duo with Philip White on his handbuilt circuits.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
The Chinese Musician, Greenpoint.