σ – a new piece by Todd Lerew

Todd Lerew is an artist whose work has interested me due to its focus on objects. This can mean the treatment of a traditional instrument as such (an object), or the pedestrian one (smoke alarms, road flares, megaphones, etc.). There is a utilitarian quality present throughout his work in which one can see anything and everything as potentially useful.

I approached Todd about releasing an album with FWD: rcrds and he came back with the idea of a piece where two recordings are played against each other. Besides appreciating the obvious potential for a recording in which a repeat-performance is almost impossible and the rejection of the idea of the recording as a “perfect version”, I grew more excited about the idea as I thought about the strict treatment of the recording as an object which would force the listener out of a passive role and into an active one. With the final product of two compact discs, the listener must decide on playback mechanisms, location, and timing (offset of recordings). All of these decisions are present in the usual playback experience, but are typically based on habit and convenience. In this case each element must be considered. And then, of course, the material must be considered as well. In the words of the composer: “The material on each disc – a recording of a clock ticking followed by a long tone – is apparently identical to that of the other disc when they are played individually or in succession; the contour of their divergence becomes evident only when they are played simultaneously.”

The piece is simply titled “σ”, which in statistics, represents a variable’s standard deviation. It is available for purchase directly from FWD: rcrds.