Twice Around the World
by Chris Cutler

Out of the Blue Radio is a programme that runs daily in London between 11.30 and Midnight. It is hosted by Resonance FM, an independent Art Station with a one-year broadcasting licence and a non-existent budget. Out of the Blue has been running continuously since July 2002.

My idea for this programme was to put its listeners into somebody else’s ears for half an hour; to open a window onto another soundscape, far or near, that was alien to their own. Its acting contributors - those who lend their ears to the rest of us – make continuous, unedited thirty minute recordings - in whatever location they choose - between 11.30 and midnight, London time – that is to say, at three thirty in the afternoon in Vancouver, half past seven in the morning in Beijing, or midnight thirty in Vienna. Then they send these recordings, unedited, to London, where they are broadcast, as they are.

An important aspect of this project is to trap whole blocks of time as they unfold. Not to improve or reshape them; not to make them adhere to some makers concept of good listening or aesthetic value, but just to freeze them. Place and activity is selected, the rest is left alone. These are not snapshots of life, but listening objects: sounds trapped and then reproduced in alien contexts; sounds framed and objectified, and re-presented unattached.

It seems to me that, far from suffering from this lack of editing and shaping, they are given power by it. Divorced from all other senses, and from their living sources, they reveal what is unthinkingly repressed by the exigencies of life as we hurry through it. Sounds that are instinctively ignored, dismissed in objects or deliberately suppressed may be reborn through their sudden irrelevance, and the indifference of machines that have no subjectivity.

Of course these sounds are acousmatic, but that is not their religion. They do not demand to be heard as pure sound. They are what they are: cars, hammers, atmospheres - at once familiar and mysterious. And like sounds coming in from an open window, they can be attended to or ignored. They may merely tint the air - or draw attention to themselves, and set in train aesthetic, analytic, even narrative intelligence.

When I was asked to make this compilation, I naturally wanted to preserve the aleatoric and unmediated aspects central to the project. So, rather than choose a ‘best of,’ or look for particularly ‘interesting’ sounds, I decided to be led by geography and time. Using 43 of the so far 230 recordings, I planned a sonic journey twice around the globe. Geography determined the order of the pieces used; the flow of time which sections to be drawn from each. That is to say, I took the first 55 seconds or so from the first recording, then a stretch from 0.55 to about one minute fifty from the next - and so on through the work. I was not fanatical about it, and determined by ear exactly how much of each 55 second segment to take, and how and where to edit and cross-fade between them. Other than the cross-fades, however, our flying ear abides in one location at a time. And no sounds have been treated or changed.

No sense of the wholeness of each Out of the Blue programme, nor of the cumulative effect of entering every day a different world, can be conveyed in this freeze frame edition – which is really a kind of rolling slide show - but I have held to the primacy of listening - of taking landscapes wild, before weeding, planting and improving them. The daily shows – even this composite - have been touched only lightly by human judgement, or intention. The rest is as it came.

As I cut it, everything you hear happens while John Scott runs along the London embankment, within earshot of Big Ben. The recording starts with him as he begins his run, catches him on the first circuit of the planet and returns to him as he completes his recording at midnight. Between, we travel at a virtual 49,803 mph (79,500kps?), in quantum leaps from site to site.


Out of the Blue Radio was conceived and is curated by Chris Cutler.

This composite was assembled by Chris Cutler at Studio Midi Pyrenees, France, and was engineered by Robert Drake.

The introduction and Coda were made by Chris Cutler at the Elsenstudio, Berlin and were engineered by Lutz Glandien.

The individual recordings heard were made by:
John Scott, David Lee Myers, Tom Dimuzio, Hardy Fox, Nicholas Frances Chase, Daniel Van Beers, Brian Woodbury, Otomo Yoshihide, Brian Labycz, Haco & Christopher, Dickson Dee, Daniel Beban, Peter Cusak, David Kerman, Udi Koomran, Michael Northam, Marzio Carlessi, Michael Maksymenko, Andreas Hagerlüken, Chris Cutler, Will Menter, E.M.Thomas, Andrea Rocca, John Dreever, Tony Whitehead, Andrew McKenzie, Richard Windeyer, Jack Vees, Steve McLean, Phil Zampino, Carmen Borgia, Warren Burt, Annie Gosfield, Nic Collins, Chris deLaurentis, Toby Paddock, Bill Harkelroad, John Kennedy, Jim Denley, Philip Mar, Jon Rose and Warrick Swinney - and were all taken from their contributions to Out of the Blue Radio.

Here are the programme entries for the recordings used:

It’s eleven thirty in central London here in England
The ears belong to JOHN SCOTT
He’s preparing for the Budapest marathon by running along the South bank of the Thames from Blackfriars.

It’s late in the evening in Tusten, New York State
Today’s ears belong to DAVID LEE MYERS
He’s at Frog Lake

It’s half past three in the afternoon in San Francisco, USA
Today’s ears belong to TOM DIMUZIO
They are pinned to his window and it’s brutal out,

It’s 15.30 in the afternoon in San Francisco
Today’s ears belong to HARDY FOX
He’s at the Musee Mechanique

It’s half past five in Los Angeles, USA
Today’s ears belong to NICHOLAS FRANCES CHASE
It’s his last half hour training for the position of Integrated Media Administrator at CalArts (and the last half hour of his predecessor’s employment

It’s half past three in the afternoon in Los Angeles
Today’s ears belong to DANIEL VAN BEERS
He’s between Wilmington Ave and Imperial Highway, by a level crossing.

It’s half past three in the afternoon in Studio City, California, USA
Today’s ears belong to BRIAN WOODBURY
He’s on Cahuengua Boulevard.

It’s half past eight in the morning in Tokyo
Today’s ears belong to OTOMO YOSIHIDE
Leaning out of his apartment window

It’s eight thirty in the morning in Matsue-shi, Japan
And the ears belong to BRIAN LABCYZ
He’s in a small bay.

It’s 8.30 in the morning in Kobe, Japan
Today’s ears belong to HACO and CHRISTOPHER
Who seem to be trapped inside their refrigerator

It’s 7.30in the morning in Beijing, China
Today’s ears belong to LI CHIN SUNG & DICKSON DEE
They’re listening to China Reconstruct

It’s 10.30 in the morning in Dali, Southwest China
Today’s ears belong to DANIEL BEBAN
He’s out and about

It’s 1.30 in the morning in Baku, AZERBAIJAN
Today’s ears belong to PETER CUSAK
He’s up for the muezzins and around the town
[The Baku soundwalk was recorded starting at 1.25pm Baku time (8.25am gmt i think). it is of the call to prayer from the minaret in Baku's old medieval town with me recording from under a tree in the next street rather than right beside the mosque. Consequently other sonic events, slow passing cars, bricks being thrown from one lorry to another, drown out the singing from time to time. Also the sound is effected by changing wind strength and direction - Baku is a windy city. After the singing the recording is of a walk around the maze like alleyways of old baku which, because it's the hot part of the day and lunchtime, are pretty quiet. It finishes by walking out of the medieval town into the 19th century part with wider streets, traffic and a fairly sorry drinking water fountain.]

It’s 1.30 in the morning in Tel Aviv
Today’s ears belong to DAVID KERMAN and UDI KOOMRAN
They are walking through town to the dolphinarium

It’s half past eleven in the evening at 145 Triq San Duminku, Valletta Malta
Today’s ears belong to MICHAEL NORTHAM
He’s on his balcony

Sunday is time holiday for recordings not made at 23.30 GMT. Today
it’s late in the evening in Milan, Italy
The ears belong to MARZIO CARLESS!
He and a couple of hundred other cyclists are making a Critical Mass demonstration, occupying lanes and stopping cars.

it’s half past midnight in Stockholm, Sweden
Today’s ears belong to MICHAEL MAKSYMENKO
And he’s at Peppar, a Cajun restaurant..

It’s half past midnight in Berlin
Today’s ears belong to ANDREAS HAGELÜKEN
He’s in the Studio of Deutschland Radio, dubbing a documentary about UK Punk
And briefly at home while the starlings look for a roost for the night.

It’s half past eleven in the morning in Luxembourg
Today’s ears belong to CHRIS CUTLER
He’s in Luxembourg airport.

It’s six thirty in the evening in Changey, France
The ears belong to WILL MENTER
He’s loitering near his slate sound sculpture called "Rain Songs”.

Sunday is a time holiday for recordings not made at 23.30 GMT.
Today it’s afternoon underground at Niaux
The ears belong to E.M THOMAS
And she’s doing a bit of guided speleology

It’s between 11.30 at night in London England.
The ears belong to ANDREA ROCCA
He’s on the Northern line travelling from Clapham Common to Leicester Square.

It’s between 11.30 and midnight in Dawlish Warren, Devon in England.
They’re out on the sand dunes at Dawlish Warren, as the tide goes out - with birds [Birds on the Exe Estuary recording as follows (in no particular order) Oystercatcher (lots - the insistent `tupeep' calls, v loud) Curlew (lots - wonderful eerie `bubbling' calls as they are called, loud) Canada geese (the `honking' for the first quarter hour or so) Dunlin (scratchy little calls, difficult to pick up) Wigeon (whistles in distance, few) Redshank (occasional mournful calls) Brent geese (low frequency grumbling towards the end of the half hour, difficult to pick up) Mallard (occasional `quacks') Redwing (high pitched `seeep' of birds overhead). Also Helicopter flying into the commando base at Lympstone Various trains heading towards and from Dawlish Church bell at Starcross.]
It’s half past eleven at night in Reykjavik, Iceland
Today’s ears belong to ANDREW McKENZIE
He’s in the loft overlooking the bathroom, facing Björk's apartment.

It’s 6.30 in the evening in Toronto, Canada.
Today’s ears belong to RICHARD WINDEYER
He’s going to see the new James Bond movie

It’s 6.30 in the evening in Newhaven, CT,USA
Today’s ears belong to JACK VEES
He’s set his bass in an upstairs room in Woolsey Hall, Yale University and he’s wandering around the building with sound engineer Thad Brown.

It’s six thirty in the evening in Somerville, Mass, USA
The ears belong to STEVE MACLEAN
And he’s on his back porch doing his nightly Kora practice.

It’s 6.30 in the evening in New York
Today’s ears belong to PHIL ZAMPINO
He’s going into the city to buy a new blind
It’s six thirty in the evening in New York City, USA
The ears belong to CARMEN BORGIA
He’s in the DuArt mixing room finishing up a documentary film.

It’s 7.30 in the evening in Kingston , New York
Today’s ears belong to WARREN BURT
He’s talking to Pauline Olivieros.

It’s half past six in the evening in New York, USA
Today’s ears belong to ANNIE GOSFIELD
She’s in the middle of a soundcheck at Tonic, with Roger Kleier, Stephen Vitiello and Marco Capelli

It’s 6.30 in the evening in Chicago
Today’s ears belong to NICHOLAS COLLINS, sort of He’s on the loop, but he only hears electromagnetic fields.. [For the past year or so I've been working on a set of pieces about extending the limits of our senses: using fingernail extensions to listen to record grooves, seeing & listening in the infra-red range, and listening directly to the electromagnetic spectrum (without the de-heterodyning of radio receivers.) 
For this recording I plugged loop inductors (cheap telephone taps) into a mini-disc recorder and recorded while I rode the El (S-bahn of Chicago) into downtown, then walked to my office.  You here mostly hum, punctuated by noisy crackling (the El motors) in a cyclical pattern of the 17 stations, along with strange data bursts of various sorts (possibly in-train control signals.)  During the walk the hum rises up as I pass over sub transformers for individual buildings.  Near the end you hear quiet elevator controls & the electronic lock to my office.  The stereo imaging is from having one coil down each sleeve of my jacket].

It’s 3.30 in the afternoon in Seattle, USA
Today’s ears belong to CHRIS DELAURENTI
He’s at the Wallingford Transfer Station - the City Dump

It’s half past four in the afternoon in Seattle, USA
Today’s ears belong to TOBY PADDOCK
He’s walking around an electronics manufacturing company

It’s half past four in the afternoon in Eugene, Oregon, USA
Today’s ears belong to BILL HARKELROAD
He’s at home giving a guitar lesson. With Mike Sobol.

It’s half past eleven in the morning in Auckland, New Zealand
Today’s ears belong to JOHN KENNEDY
He’s at the airport

it’s 9.30 I the morning in Sydney, Australia
Today’s ears belong to JIM DENLEY
And he’s in the Jewellery department at Enmore Tafe College.

It’s nine thirty in the morning in Sydney, Australia
The ears belong to PHILLIP MAR
Oh no - he’s got an appointment at the dentist.

It’s 11.30 at night in Sydney, Australia
The ears belong to JON ROSE
And he’s on the corner of Oxford and Crown streets, checking on the nightlife.

It’s one thirty in the morning in Kwa Zulu Natal, SOUTH AFRICA
Today’s ears belong WARRIC SWINNEY
It’s midnight in suburbia at his parents’ home in Palmiet Valley