Hit play on this one and prepare to immerse yourself in a supernatural universe. The electronic sound sculptures on Pond bear some resemblance to the real world events, insofar as you can discern insects, birds, and frogs popping in and out of the steaming mist, but for the most part this self-described “organized sound” collection is abstract, ethereal, and, well, extreme.
But first, a bit of background. Tod Dockstader is a veteran experimentalist whose primary work centered around manipulation of optical sound and tape recorders; this is his first new full-length recording since 1967. David Lee Myers, otherwise known as Arcane Device, assembled 1988’s Engines of Myth (recently reissued by ReR on CD), a recording made from inputless “feedback machines.” Myers convinced Dockstader to boot up a computer and explore the finer control and fidelity available through that medium, and after coming up with the idea of recording frogs and toads, he snuck around late at night with a mic and collected the source material for Pond.
That’s just the beginning of the story, of course, because the only raw ambience appears (briefly) on the first track, “Crepitata.” For the rest of the record, broken down into thirteen chapters, Dockstader and Myers scrubbed the source material, dopplered and reversed it and altered its speed, and came up with collages of processed sound. Who knows what else they did along the way—most likely the details will remain private—but it’s all about inventing new relationships between man and nature at the same time as exploring the connections between man and machine.
The idea of using electronics to bring new life to ambient sound is clever if not brand new, and Pond is full of elements that are simultaneously familiar and alien. Once you’ve come to terms with the circular aspect of the concept—life enters machine and exits alive—you can spend hours with this recording and still be surprised by it. Headphones are recommended if you want to really get wet.