Simon Whetham – Mall Muzak

Mall Muzak

The original Muzak, aka Elevator Music, may represent all the music you don’t want to listen to actively.
Intended and created as unobtrusive music played in shopping malls, designed to make you feel good and spend more money without realising you hear anything at all, this kind of music definitely has it’s own -conceptual-  kind of charm.  

Simon Whetham’s  latest release,  Mall Muzak” is about the exact opposite of that kind of music.

For this recording, he has stripped the mall of all sounds that are intended to be heard, and leaves the sound that are not: the drones and hums of air conditioners, escalators, coins dropping. The heart and soul of an organism that isn’t organic. The Hum in the Room, in a different way.

The sounds of this recording originated in a (“half-derelict”) Bristol shopping center called “The Mall“: 
On returning to The Mall, it was apparent that the current recession had hit hard, with almost half the units with their shutters down, possibly never to open again. The seemingly empty drones of the various processes that keep a structure like this alive could be heard over the scattering of shoppers who had entered, wandering some distance from one active unit to another.
These lifesigns of the building became more apparent behind the scenes, in the corridors that link the units, hidden from view, in the units that were closed, in the storage areas and delivery bays. The drones become more musical and tonal, singing a lament to the financial situation and to better times. The chattering of air conditioning and escalators echoing that of now absent consumers. Coins drop in an empty space, money thrown away…”

In this context, these environmental sounds are the sounds of the current recession.
The question remains: would Mall Muzak have sounded different if there was no recession? Would the ‘chattering of air contioning and escalators’ sound more optimistic? (I guess the sound of ‘coins dropping’ would!).

This “field” recording may have a remarkable side effect: you may actually start enjoying visiting a mall (especially the “half-derelict”) and hear the Muzak behind the Muzak. The best way to experience this is to stay around right after shop closing time, I guess….

Simon Whetham – Mall Muzak (Excerpt)

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