Andy Hayleck - The Disappearing Floor
Much in the way John Cage envisioned music happening naturally all around us, Andy Hayleck’s The Disappearing Floor aims for the negation of the artist as creator, and the idea of equality between human and sound. It’s perhaps a utopian aspiration, but not one without values both conceptual and aesthetic. The Baltimorean Hayleck utilizes field recordings in his music as natural sound sources, as well as the physical manifestations of manipulated metal, and alters them with filters and other audio effects. Viewed in a purely semantic vein, Hayleck’s attempts aren’t completely successful, as any change made to the sound whatsoever immediately defines control in at least some sense, but The Disappearing Floor is far from a failure.
While Hayleck offers a rather concise explanation of the origins and transformations that make up each of The Disappearing Floor’s tracks, the original sound sources are usually masked quite completely. And while their initial identities are sometimes nothing more than trivia in the greater context of the listening experience, it’s interesting to hear how Hayleck is able to mutate the sounds of a subway train, carpenter, and zoo animals into the ambient song forms presented here. Bowed cymbals, a favorite tool of Hayleck’s, feature prominently on a few tracks, ringing bell-like on “Garden,” and reduced to a bassy growl on “Trees.” Hayleck is like a wardrobe consultant to his sounds, as he dresses their core identities in new outer layers, sometimes merely changing their personality (the suddenly creepy animal sounds in “Park”), or, other times, disguising them altogether (the carpentry sounds of “Pool” that become an ambient background). Three tracks are dedicated to Hayleck’s recordings of a sound sculpture by Harry Betoia, a designer as well-known for his diamond chair design as he was for his sculptures. The sculpture consists of metal stems, almost like cattails, rising from a metal base. As the stems are put into contact by the wind or other outside force, they strike one another and resonate in a beautiful alien chorus. Hayleck’s recordings of one such sculpture, outside of the national gallery in Washington DC, are varied. “Station” is a rather straight reproduction of the sculpture’s natural sound, with only minimal effects throughout much of the track. “Beryllium” and “Vapor” warp the sculpture’s original sound into new modes, eradicating quite quickly any hints of the sound’s organic beginnings.
The Disappearing Floor may not have the same compelling conceptual base as his Various Recordings Involving Ice, but its basic idea is far from vapid. But, intent aside, Hayleck’s music takes an interesting look at the more minor sounds in life, and he’s a valuable member of what has become quite a vibrant, intelligent, and exciting Baltimore experimental music community.