The album 'Mesoscaphe' is a sound work dedicated to the 1969 voyage of the Ben Franklin, the naturally-propelled submarine created to explore the currents of the Gulf Stream, and the nature of the sea. Half of the sound is composed of original pieces of music, meant to symbolize a deepening human element culled from memory, from strings, pianos, and electronics. The other half of the sound is composed of natural field recordings, of the Ben Franklin itself, as well as the surrounding oceans and habitats, with the intention of providing realism through sound, just as if it were an actual document from the voyage, of the surrounding ocean. The artists exchanged their own original sounds with each other, allowing each artist to experiment and remix outside of their own sound sources, with the potential to apply our own sound methods to each others' sound sources, and develop the concept even further. Titles were made to coordinate with the movement of the voyage, creating their own story, in relation to the progressing sounds. The final result is a documented literary and audio interpretation of the voyage, from the perspective of 3 sound and visual artists, of the experiences and surroundings of the crew of the Ben Franklin, traveling for 30 days by the gentle glide of the Gulf Stream. We hope to bring attention to an important event in history, overshadowed by the moon landings, and for people to know the story of the revolutionary submarine that explored the nature of the ocean, challenged scientific development, and ended up in a salvage yard.
Mathieu: My initial interest for exploring a soundwork dealing with the drift project came through my
interest with Jacques Piccard's (who created the mesoscaphe) father, Auguste, a Swiss physicist who became interested
in air balloons as a way of studying cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere.
He set a record in a balloon he created reaching 50,000 ft. and become the first person to reach the stratosphere and return safely. Quite remarkable. Jacques Piccard in his own right was on the forefront of exploration. While his father Auguste reached the heavens Jacques was the only person, along with an assistant, to reach the deepest point on the earth's surface.
I have always been captured by the nomadic journey of individuals who take that step into unchartered areas of expedition, wether physical or psychological. I felt it important to create a work representing this exploration.
I think the initial commonality between Celer and myself regarding this work was the beauty of the expedition. This idea of drifting in the warm current of the ocean for a month invoked a soundscape in our minds. As well I hoped to present a work that brought light to this little known expedition. It took place during the same time the astronauts landed on the moon but little is discussed about these aquanauts.
Dani: My attempt was to represent the underlying distaff theme of the phallic journey of the Franklin. The endless soused femininity of the ocean compressing and ephemeral; her silent character allowing the submarine to have a definition, let alone a purpose.
Will: I was previously unaware of the voyage, and was all too happy to hear Mathieu's suggestion when the three of us began talking about a collaboration. As a student of history, I was immediately attracted to the idea of creating a tribute to an event that was focused on exploration of our own Earth, while the event that obscured it from history explored elsewhere.
Mathieu: The initial idea to collaborate with Celer on this project was quite specific. When I had first made
contact with Will + Dani during this time their work induced, and continues to do so, the effect of being washed over
by drifting warm tones. So it was quite appropriate to collaborate with them with this in mind.
The final interpretations of ideas and sounds for the final concept/mix worked really well and fluid. Coming, as you mentioned, from different areas of methodology there were no stepping on toes. From the outset we felt an understanding of our approaches and how they would work together.
Will: When we initially exchanged CDRs of sound sources with Mathieu, I felt that we all contributed source work that represented our own sound work and personal vision; while Dani and I sent primarily instrumental sound to Mathieu, Mathieu sent us primarily field recordings. This allowed each of us to remix sound that was a bit different than the normal for us, reworking it into our own interpretations of the concept as we visualized the subject, all while not over-processing and destroying the original ideas. This made it a true 'collaboration', I think.
Dani: My role in the composition is a spinously inverted process of obverse aquatics traveling beyond earshot. A chorus of shrunken pleiads fluting seaweed between lips. Without gilding the lily, I wanted to keep the works in fine transmeridian gusts, compositionally speaking.
Mathieu: Because of the distinct characteristics of the sounds we produce it was quite natural for the
process to reveal the individual sound signatures we have. I felt upon my initial contact and discussions with Celer
that our collaboration would be cohesive but distinct because of the nature of our recordings. I did not see a reason
to compromise this in the final mix and feel they do well counteracting each other without conflicting.
Dani: Dyssomnias are a great inspiration to me. Sleeplessness and slow moving through the ocean are synonymous; extracting a subtle effeminate gauze in these works beyond my mere presence was an invaluable goal for this piece. The right balance found itself, I just floated through it.
Will: The process of recording sound sources, exchanging, remixing, and mixing together seemed to me to work perfectly. There were always areas where one of us took over the duties for that task, and everyone else did other specific parts. We all just worked really well together.
Mathieu: The initial field recordings I presented to Celer were actual recordings taken from the Ben Franklin, which luckily resides in Vancouver, the same city as I do. I also sent them recordings from the ocean that lies feet away from the location where the mesoscaphe now resides. I think they were essential to the project. To work with the actual structure and to capture its acoustic signature and history were definitely keys for this work. Further field and acoustic recordings were exchanged as well.
Dani: Throughout titling this project I was constantly swept with the mental colour of brown.
Representing for me the combination of all colours, and colours as sounds; separating and arranging them into their
own identities as the music and words arose into their final fruition.
Will: Visual Arts played a key role in the arrangement of Mathieu's source material, for us. By turning his recordings into loops, and physically shaping and syncing them to mimic the activity of ocean waves and underwater movement, we tried to build a more natural listening environment through movement, panning, and swelling. They crest, and subside. All of the titling and writing was an essential visual aid that we wanted to include, giving us a way to actually sync the sound to the story, but also to give our own interpretation of the events through elaborate/expansive titles, creating another sense of the natural beauty of the voyage.
Mathieu: That everything lies hidden. Buried.