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Factory music. LUIS ANTERO
(Wandering Ear 2011)

Printing Works 87 dBA

Since the Industrial Revolution and the embracing by our species of mass production, machinery has made its rhythmic music a central factor in the urban soundscape. Indeed, anyone who has ever tried to record a quiet sound in a remote location will have noticed that just when you think you’re capturing the perfect subtlety of gently rustling leaves, a huge jet engined plane is sure to carve a trail through the sky at that exact moment.

Screw Heading Machine 101 dBA

There are two ways to fight the incursion of man made noise into the sound environment: Pretend it’s not there and filter every bit out of your recordings, thus creating an idealised, untouched picture of nature. Alternatively embrace it as it really is and let those planes fly over and those cars motor past as you record a cricket chirruping in a grassy meadow (follow the link to Sonic Fields for an interesting view on this topic).

Metalwork Grinder 106 dBA

Luis Antero’s Factory Music uses a palate of machine sounds as the basis for an exploration of the musicality inherent in industry. Clearly the components of the piece are largely rhythmic, but there is also the high register hiss of pressure release valves and the deep bass rumblings of unknown heavy movement.

Metal Saw 110 dBA

Antero leaves us with the language of a machine for a period of time, allowing us to absorb the subtle changes and random (and possibly human) incidents that affect its music, before another different percussive suite of sounds enters and takes over. It is however worth bearing in mind that whilst we perhaps spend a few minutes listening to one piece of equipment, the operator at the factory spends all day, possibly even all his working life, with that aural assault.

Boiler Works Hammering 118 dBA

Recorded in the Portugese town of Oliveira do Hospital where machine tools are made, the music is not dehumanised by Antero. There is still the palpable feeling that people are around. The odd snatch of conversation or the planing and rasping sounds of someone working by hand on material are there too.

Jet Taking Off 120 dBA

If the operators of these machines are the musicians in this recording, they play very dangerous instruments. There can’t be many cases where striking a wrong note means you lose your arm. Luis Antero has captured the danger and the industry, but most importantly the musicality of these factories. There is beauty here and depth too. Listen to the loud surfaces, but also to the things going on at the back of these workshops. deceptively subtle and human.

Human Breath 10 dBA

-Chris Whitehead

Luis Antero website
Wandering Ear website