Frozen in Time

Astronomical Clock Face via Wikimedia Commons is a mystery, a dimension that seems especially fluid in some moments, and strangely static in others. Our perception of time is elusive, and depends so much on what we’re experiencing.

Today’s At Water’s Edge show is all about time in its frozen state. The featured work is Robert Rich‘s new release, “Frozen Day”, a fascinating hour-long work that compresses 24 hours into one.

We’ll also hear works by Silvercord, Andrew Lahiff, Na-Koja-Abad, Matt Borghi and Parallel Worlds.

Come spend some time!


“Crystalline Memories Within My Frozen Dreams” – Silvercord – Ambient Collective ~ Winter (2006)

Winter was the second release from the Ambient Collective, published in 2006, and featured a number of different ambient artists, including Silvercord.

Growing up under the rural thumb of Michigan, Silvercord aka Geoff Nostrant was raised on the old psychedelic rock records his father insisted on playing. As a teen, he grew tired of the region’s undying love of the classic rock scene and craved a different form of music. As a result, he began to listen to ambient/space radio programs late at night under the stars and was hooked on the weightless, wondrous feelings of ethereal music.

Flash forward to the university years. Geoff was introduced to the fusion of ethereal space music and rock/pop and was immediately hooked. He began to record and produce tracks that reflected the dreamy feeling that resonated in him when I listened to ambient music. Around the same time, Geoff graduated from Eastern Michigan University’s music program, with a focus on classical guitar.

On a whim, he bought some rather cheap recording equipment with no idea how to use any of it. Since there was no one around to show him the ropes, he learned them through trial and error. As he became more brave with experimental recording, he began to invite his friends to take part in creating sounds. Weekend evenings were spent composing atmospheres and bouncing ideas off one another. Recording became very creative and therapeutic for Geoff, an outlet to life’s common disappointments and frustrations. As a friend and mentor once said, “Recording is cheaper than therapy”.

From this, Silvercord was born.

The name of the project has ancient origins. The “silver cord” has been believed to be the supposed shiny umbilical-like connection between the physical body and the ethereal body by those claiming they have had out of the body/near death experiences. What is interesting about this phenomenon is that people from different cultures, creeds, ages, areas and periods time throughout recorded history have report accounts of the same experience. Geoff believes there could not have been a more appropriate name for the music that he and his friends created.

“Frozen Illusions” – Andrew Lahiff – Emerging Signals (2006)

Previously only available as low-bitrate mp3 files, Oxford, UK-based Andrew Lahiff re-released Emerging Signals in 2010 on The Internet Archive. You can find more of his music at

“Frozen Moments in Time” – Na-Koja-Abad – Deluvia (2006)

Na-Koja-Abad is Muamer Musić, an ambient artist based in Sarajevo. He started using the alias Na-Koja-Abad in 2002. Translated it means Land of Nowhere, a term coined by the twelfth-century Persian mystic Sohrawardi to describe a place that is everywhere, and yet nowhere, a realm of spirituality where existence is solemnly suspended, not reflected on anything but itself. He choose this name out of his interest in Sufism and shamanism, which also lead him to the kind of music he makes today: trancey, tribal ambient.

Deluvia is his fifth album.

“This Moment Feels Frozen But Really We’re In Another Time And Place” – Matt Borghi – Wein, Weib und Gesang (2004)

Wein, Weib und Gesang is an ambitious 2004 compilation released on the Kikapu netlabel, and includes music of Matt Borghi (who also supplied the artwork) and about a zillion other artists. Clocking in at nearly five hours, the release was intended as a musical message to the listener to be happy with the simple things.

“A Moment Frozen” – Parallel Worlds – Shade (2009)

Parallel Worlds in an ambient music project of Greek ambient artists Bakis Sirros. John Sirros also appeared on a few tracks on this release, Shade, published in 2009. This is the studio album follow-up to Obsessive Surrealism and is the fifth CD release by Parallel Worlds. He employs a vast arsenal of both vintage and modern analog modular synthesizers with extensive use of classic sequencing techniques to produce a sonic world that combines modern electronica and ambient music styles with the feel of retro electronic music.

“Frozen Day” – Robert Rich – Frozen Day (2013)

Just last month, on August 15th to be exact, Robert Rich released a new piece, focusing on the ideas of time and place. He wrote,

Perhaps because I’m turning 50 next week, time is an increasingly interesting idea. “Frozen Day” is up on SoundCloud now, as a gift to you, a one-hour composition that compresses 24 hours of a day and blurs the harmonic fabric of each moment into a shifting drone:

Every place has a sound. That sound changes constantly, but it remains the sound of that place. I would like to hear the sound of each place without judgement; but I am human, so that is difficult. As I listen closely to each place, I hear animals and insects, the atmosphere, humans and machines, and the sounds of my own body. Any potential silence is filled by the chattering dialog of my thoughts. Still I prefer the sounds of nature over the sounds of humans, and I am fascinated by the daily flux of the human-machine sound cycle imposed upon our world.

As I think about the sounds of a place, I think about ways to combine place and time. Music is an art-form that specifically uses time to communicate. Composers through the centuries have addressed these questions. I doubt that I can bring anything new. My favorite contemporary composers have incorporated an environmental sensibility, the sense of landscape or soundscape. This has influenced me very much, how time and place become dimensional markers.

With that idea in mind, I have been trying for several years to combine my attraction to the purely sensual sonic experience with my growing fascination in the ideas of time and place. Time is still a mystery that enchants our greatest mathematicians, physicists and philosophers. I am fascinated with cosmology and I wonder at our increasing understanding of entropy and time’s unidirectional arrow. I want to create a direct experience of this passage, somehow to distill the question into an experience without words.

“Frozen Day” is my first effort in a series of compositions to express the unique relationships of sound, time and place. Other compositions that belong in this group will take years to complete, because the technology is not simple. When I thought of this group of ideas, I realized I had the tools to achieve “Frozen Day” most quickly, so I tried it first, as a test, immediately after the concept arose.

Just before dawn (August 8, 2013, around 5:30 AM) I woke up from a fitful sleep. On the previous evening I had given a short talk for the Leonardo society. I discussed my sleep concerts, slow listening, and the excellent sound-art that came before me. References included Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, Maryanne Amacher, Terry Riley, Alvin Lucier, LaMonte Young, John Cage and many others. I sometimes feel that these composers thought more deeply about their work than I do, as I seem driven by a more sensual vocabulary.

Why do I say that I am driven by a sensual vocabulary? I love the idea of mapping concepts into sound, but so often these conceptual unions result in dry intellectual sonic exercises. I often feel bored by purely conceptual art; yet sometimes, the art expresses an idea that is so forceful that all elements unite into one experience, and the intellectual components unite with pure visceral experience to become a Gestalt, a holistic experience. I strive for these moments.

In that dim morning, my racing groggy mind began looping on a set of ideas: “The Hours: Time and Place” — like a book of hours, or book of days, but in sound. This could entail a series of projects that manipulate ambient recordings by expanding or contracting their durations, freezing their harmonic components, shifting their spatial or temporal relationships; offering an acoustic microscope to the fleeting moments that define our experience of time and place through sound. This first of projects was the easiest to accomplish.

To create “Frozen Day” I began by recording the ambient sound in the garden behind our house, near the south end of San Francisco Bay. I recorded at least five minutes of sound at every hour, for an unbroken 24 hour cycle. The sound field consisted of near and distant traffic, overhead airplanes, birds squabbling over food, night insects, neighbors and the blurry hum of life: the natural events of our intrinsic soundscape. I organized the files chronologically from midnight to midnight, with a 50% overlap so that each five minute proxy of the hour fades in from the previous hour for 2.5 minutes, and fades out to the next hour for 2.5 minutes. The representative sound events from one day thus compress down to one hour. I routed this continuous audio crossfade to an algorithm that freezes the sonic spectrum of each moment, with a moving time window that allows new events to build up as old events fade out.

This process results in a magnification of the frequency spectra that characterize the sound energy in this particular location, during each moving window of time, throughout that particular 24 hour day. A gong-like timbre emerges from the elongation of each sonic event, slowly changing shape as the night transforms to day, air and ground traffic ebb and flow, birds and insects call to each other. Changes that took place over 24 hours are compressed into one hour, but momentary sounds are frozen in time rather than accelerated. Each event leaves trails that extend to a sonic horizon, building components that become the aural fingerprint of a place and time.

– Robert Rich, 10 August 2013

If you want to download this amazing track, you should pick it up as soon as possible, as he’s only planning to make it available for a limited time. Later, perhaps, it might become part of a larger release.

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