Early sound reproduction and transmission technologies presented a form of radical difference and otherness to their operators. 19th century ship captains succumbed to paranoia when forced to use radio transmission; crumbling under the silence of their own unreturned voice. Respondents to the first phonographic equipment shuttered at the alienated sounds of their own reproduced voice, perhaps frightened by the death foretold by their uncanny double in the mirror. This radical otherness could only be traversed by the presumably controllable and familiar difference of recording and reproducing black musics at century’s turn. This dynamic suggests that new technologies of representation are often old hat as they give way to the same familiar effects and affects of looking into the mirror.
One of my first discernable introductions to sound and music—outside of a small Yamaha keyboard—was as a child when my mother would record herself talking to me: reading me stories, singing me nursery rhymes and telling me about our friends and family. My mother would then play these tapes back to me; encouraging me to speak, to sing and (eventually) to read. As a slightly older child in school I would invoke a small tape recorder—borrowed from my mother—to similar ends: recording impersonations of celebrities and TV shows, telling jokes and singing songs heard from the radio. As I have begun integrating tape recorders (now mostly digital) into my own artistic practices, I have been struck by how increasingly uncanny and even troubling my own voice and other familiar objects appear to me. This track is an attempt to deal with that anxiety and discomfort, which is not, I think, a unique product of sonic technologies, but rather an inherent limit of our notion of self-hood and individuality, which in their precarity can be so violently pierced by the sounds of an Other, that is “itself”; our own voice. Our voice just a figure, a carrier for an image of radical otherness we can perhaps never truly hear.