Does it Matter?Alex Buck
00:00 / 09:35

2021       acousmatic | binaural | 9’ 35’’

commissioned by PANaroma Studio and PROEC

first prize - Premio Destellos 2022 International Annual Electroacoustic Composition Contest

[feat.] Abigail Whitman

2020 was when the overall weight of human activities’ material output surpassed the weight of all global living biomass. After reading this information, the image of oceanic waters covered by plastic waste immediately came to my mind. Presumably, plastic is the synthetic material that best symbolizes human debris. There are countless products made from plastic; it is on our clothes, our food, in the water... plastic is everywhere. Contemporary urban societies are leaving their traces for centuries to go. On the other hand, there is a positive side effect of plastic material.


For instance, plastic enabled unprecedented music development during the 20th Century. The emergence of the audio recording- diffusion technology fostered the further development of pre-existing musical genres and enabled the explosion of new ones. Vinyl discs, magnetic/cassette tapes, compact/digital versatile discs, and their respective devices are all variations of plastics. That is the metaphor I wanted to evoke with the piece’s first movement. I chose to articulate sounds from “obsolete” recording-diffusion plastic devices with samples from musique concrète’s first cycle of works—Études de Bruits (Schaeffer, 1948)—a clear example of a new musical genre that could only emerge from sound recording technology. In the second movement, I resume the female voice I utilized in Screaming Trees (2019).


However, in this new context, surrounded by sounds coming from plastic material, the sounds of suffocation, shortness of breath, and agony are all sonic metaphors of mother nature choking out plastics. In addition, the natural sounds of thunder, which according to Yanomami people, symbolize nature’s anger, are mixed with synthetic, artificial sounds to reinforce the atmosphere of conflict between natural and artificial, nature and culture.