For Birds, Planes & Cello

At the end of July, a movie theater around here screened Mary Ellen Carroll’s Federal, a 24-hour “movie” focused on the exterior of the Federal Building in Los Angeles—an observational twist, given that the structure houses offices of the FBI and CIA. In many ways, Miya Masaoka’s new release, For Birds, Planes & Cello, inspires a comparison (not to overlook Warhol’s Empire, of course). Though not as grand by the stopwatch, the gist is that Masaoka has taken a continuous, unedited field recording made in a canyon in San Diego that is heavy on the bird life and airplane traffic. She then invited cellist Joan Jeanrenaud into the studio to overlay the recording with all manner of sounds designed to accent the world captured on the tape. The cello line moves in and out of prominence over the course of the nearly hour-long presentation, but the birds musically steal this show. Lots of interesting sonic relationships to ponder while wandering about inside this piece.


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