One of the reasons I adore ambient music is that it can draw your attention to a whole medley of sounds whirring along in otherwise complacent spaces. To capitalize on this ability of ambient music to sensitize listeners to sounds they usually ignore, I’ve invented a game. It’s called “We peeled the wallpaper from Brian Eno’s skull and guess what we found? A crude pencil sketch of your brother performing a carnal act with the neighbor girl! On top of an oscillator!”
- All players must listen to at least one recording from any of the following: Stars of the Lid, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, Potpie, Belong, and/or Stephen Vitiello.
- Players find rooms in which nothing is happening. Players must identify as many discrete sounds audible within the room as possible, write a short description of each sound and enumerate it.
- Player with the most sounds identified at the end of a half-hour wins.
Here are the results of my first round:
- A clock shaped like a soda cracker ticks and tocks above the sink.
- The neighbor’s wind chime jangling. Sounds like car keys.
- A cyclical warbling sound. Source: unidentified. My first guess — overhead lights in the kitchen — was wrong.
- The sound from the fan on the back of my laptop, which occasionally reaches a pneumatic intensity evocative of airplane engines, thanks to the fact that said laptop is old and infested with myriad species of malware.
- The refrigerator. A very humble humming.
- The 500 bus line runs just a block behind the Family Dollar that’s in my backyard, so occasionally a bus glides past and I hear the woman’s voice announcing the name of the line with the weird, Stephen Hawking-ish elocution that occurs when words are pasted together from separate recordings of their constituent phonemes, e.g. “Five. Hun/dred.”
- Treble gurgling in the radiators along the floorboards.
- The cat, when he wakes up, is very whiny. So his meowing…
- And scratching at the door so he can go down to the basement and smell that spot in the paint closet where the neighbor’s cat urinated — copiously — last week....
- And crunching of the last remaining bits of his Purina Kit ’n Kaboodle.
E-mail your results to my secretary at email@example.com.