Initially, I set out to create a sonic equivalent to the experimental film notion of ‘flicker’ where sound images could flash in and out of the stereo frame as fast as the eyes could blink. My hopes were that these aural images could represent snapshots of life that would meet each other in a virtual landscape comprised of various juxtapositions and superimpositions.
As the working process unfolded, and as musical questions over organization arose, other strategies and intentions began to preoccupy me. Out of necessity, I turned to crude chance operations (rolling dice, etc.) to streamline the task of ordering 75 discreet sound environments into the countless number of sound events that were required. To get an idea of the density, there are moments where up to 12 tracks are tightly compressed with events averaging less than a second in duration which is a lot when dealing with environmental sound sources rather than musical instruments. In the space of only 16 seconds, there could be some 200 sound events that crowd the stereo stage with industrial and environmental sounds.
When I reached the stage of listening to the first completed stereo sequences (averaging 16 seconds in length), I was struck by how much the sonic images had coalesced and fused into one single, undifferentiated whole. The sameness of one image to another was extremely surprising when compared to my original concept — the ‘flicker’ effect of rapid-fire images. Instead, the images seemed to group themselves and form a collective identity, desiring to part ways from individual paths of experiences and behaviours. Thus, the piece developed a tendency and character that was the opposite of my original intention.
The collision and fusion of these once disparate images formed the basis of a sonic landscape that was capable of evoking very grim, even apocalyptic, renderings of the urban soundscape. Instead of being like a fast ‘flicker’ sequence, the piece became a slow invasion of industrial sludge interrupted by prolonged moments of silence and immobility.
Faith-Annihia was realized in 1991 at the Electronic Music Studio of the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) and premiered on November 29, 1991 during the Sonic Boom Festival of BC Composers produced by Vancuver Pro Musica in Vancouver (Canada).