Beautiful 1974 circuitry makes eerie sounds that inspire today.

Beautiful 1974 circuitry makes eerie sounds that inspire today.

Oh, sure, the future of the music industry might be U2 showing up in your iTunes or streams of chart-topping hits.

Or, just maybe, the future just for now will be instead weird, humming soundscapes that drone on in a browser tab, generatively faded from decades of performances of a legendary experimental piece.

Option number two may be wildly unrealistic and wholly unviable commercially but – hey, it’s your browser, and you can make that choice happen right now, for free.

Sonic legend Nicolas Collins, sound professor, editor of Leonardo Music Journal, and electronic music inventor, has unveiled his latest creation in Pea Soup to Go. (Mmmm, pea soup. Sorry, it’s wintry, and lunchtime. Getting distracted.)

It takes performances of Collins’ work and pops them into a browser tab. The results are strangely calming, the vibrating frequencies resembling nothing if not singing Tibetan bowls, as horns (and the odd ambient performance noise) dance around like dead leaves in the wind. Lose yourself in sounds eerie and meditative.

The sonic invention here is itself noting, the mournful waves of feedback emanating from a Countryman Model 968 Phase Shifter, 1974 analog circuitry singing at the center of all these performances.

The work turns 40 years of age this year, but seems somehow timeless – good news, that. What was once radical turns out to be familiar, not tired, but enduring.

And modest as this implementation may be, it reveals that these sounds can find new audiences through the Interwebs. That’s reassuring.

Dr. Collins explains:

I am pleased to announce the release of Pea Soup To Go, an open access version of my venerable feedback composition, Pea Soup. Pea Soup To Go is a free streaming audio web application that generates an ever-changing domestic sound art installation on any computer.
Premiered in 1974, Pea Soup creates a self-stabilizing feedback network of microphones and speakers that tunes itself to the architectural acoustics of the space and responds to events—instrumental performances, ambient sounds, human movement, even air currents—with swooping flights of sound. Pea Soup To Go mines decades of performances, including contributions by numerous guest musicians, from around the globe to produce a similarly dreamy soundscape that slowly shifts from key to key as the app shuffles and cross-fades from one recorded space to another.
Pea Soup To Go is being launched on October 24, 2014 — the 40th anniversary of the first performance of Pea Soup.
Point your browser to Auto-shuffle plays endless variations unattended, or click the arrows to jump to the next track. Click “Info” for performance details.