The atmosphere is an open field of communications, the air a chaotic meeting ground of audible sounds as well as a more recondite network of radio and television signals, radar emissions and the effluvia of various wireless devices. Steve Ashby’s Crackles and Codes and Winter Birds present two different but complementary portraits of the waves pervading the air.
Ashby, a guitarist, composer and electronics experimentalist in Richmond, VA, assembles sound elements sourced from field recordings and composed passages and constructs them into thick soundscapes suggestive of particular times or locations. Winter Birds, a five-track work based on field recordings taken during the winter of 2015, is evocative of the damp, grey winters of the Mid-Atlantic region. Ashby sampled birdsong, wind chimes and other sounds in the air and processed them into a sonic image that recalls those moments at twilight when birdsong becomes particularly salient. Crackles and Codes is a single drone-based track that seems to call up the ghosts of untuned radios. Over the course of its eighteen and a half minutes a slowly moving, foreboding melody on guitar emerges and disappears into a thick background of resonant, suspended harmony.