In the Pacific Northwest underneath the decommissioned Fort Worden is a 2 million-gallon concrete cistern, now empty, that has a 45-second reverb time. And its impact on experimental music has resonated across the country and down through the decades.
Environmental degradation and cultural annihilation aside, the total combination of sounds on the PCT is something that is interesting and wondrous to behold. There’s often a special kind of beauty in the confusion that arises when you’re not entirely sure what you’re hearing.
Day-dreaming drifting time is the luxury that I have out on the trail. Instead of my usual pattern of working on four or five things at once, I work on just one piece, mulling things over sometimes for days before actually writing them down. I’m not distracted by emails or petty bickering on social media.
Since I started walking the Pacific Crest Trail seven weeks ago, I’ve undergone a number of physiological and mental changes. One of the biggest changes that has occurred, however, relates more specifically to working with sound and music as a composer—an alteration in my sense of hearing.
Beyond exploring our ever-evolving relationship to the natural world over tens of thousands of years, deep ecology, and humorous battle stories, 314 miles into my walk there have been a number of practical concerns and adjustments to make in my remote, mobile residency.
It was a massive interdisciplinary art, music, and sound event produced on a scale large enough to successfully fill an arena—something intense, interesting, challenging, interdisciplinary, and yet totally accessible. Perhaps we need to admit to ourselves that people like to be challenged, that people want to dive into wild and contemporary imagery and messages, but that our success in that mission may not come from our own backyard.