CRUEL, CRUEL SUMMER
Sound specialists study the season’s sonic screeches and sedatives.
Before the flowers crack through mud, before the scent of sweat and coconut oil latches onto your nose hairs, you can hear the drip-drip of dying icicles and you know it’s coming. Soon the sound of hammering (seemingly happening right below your pillow at 8 a.m.), high-pitched childhood and hyper radio DJs will flood your senses. Summer, the loudest season, is upon us. And with it comes the parade of outdoor music festivals, firework explosions, noise violations and barking dogs.
In addition to never ending construction and road patching, Detroit has got some of the best summer music festivals/events around. Fourth Street Fair, Dally in the Alley, Frog Island, Arts, Beats & Eats, Concert of Colors, African World Fest, Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Downtown Hoedown, Detroit’s 300th birthday celebration (with Stevie Wonder!) and Michigan TasteFest are just a few.
In the meantime, we asked some of the noisiest (in a good way) musicians in the area to give us their takes on the sounds of summer. David Warmbier is half of The Hearing Trumpet, a group that constructs music from sampled, looped, manipulated and altered sound sources. The duo also hosts “Misanthropy 961,” an “easy listening to difficult listening” radio show on CJAM-FM 91.5 from midnight to 2 Sunday mornings. Bill Brovold crafts quiet think-hums that transform into bold, dense, almost assaulting compositions in his instrumental rock band,Larval. Lindsay Karty collects, arranges, rewires and knocks down weird and fascinating sounds as Viki. Davin Brainard is one of the main creative forces behind Noise Camp, an annual, outdoor, electro-acoustic exercise, focusing on the messy, net-free noise of Princess Dragonmom. It usually happens in July at C-Pop.
What sounds do you think of when you think of summer?
Warmbier: The sound of the air conditioning compressor, the sound of crows, cicadas, crickets, the neighbors screaming at each other in the evening, hearing what the car next to you is playing on the radio, the drug dealers hanging out on the corner.
Brovold: Children playing, that is the sound of summer.
Karty: All kinds of screaming — outside and up in my head.
Brainard: Open windows.
What sound is the most irritating?
Warmbier: Hearing the car radio next to you. Usually the taste is rather nasty.
Brovold: Those lawn blowers, early in the morning.
Brainard: People who mow the lawn before 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Which one is the most pleasing?
Warmbier: The drone of cicadas in the evening.
Brovold: Birds, especially cardinals.
Karty: The sounds from a table tennis table, partying.
Brainard: The little birds.
Is there one you find truly intriguing?
Warmbier: The neighbors yelling at each other, depending on the topic.
Brovold: The sound of crickets.
Karty: When sluts scream. Sometimes they sound cool and other times it’s annoying. It just depends on if it’s a cool slut or a stupid one. Usually you can tell a cool slut when you see one. For stupid sluts to reveal themselves they have to scream stupid.
Brainard: Some insects make strange noises and I like it. Birds and bugs are small, but with a big noise.
Is there a sound that you’re not even sure what it is, but you always hear it and can describe it or think you might know what it is?
Warmbier: Not really, I can usually identify it.
Brovold: For a long time I thought the sound cicadas make were man-made and I never quite knew what they were, but I always liked it.
Karty: When I’m driving I’m not sure if it’s my car or maybe a piece of trash I just drove over. I just put a hole in the bottom of my car so it will probably get more frequent.
Have you ever received a noise violation?
Warmbier: I have been violated by noise.
Brovold: A few very stern warnings, mainly from explosives. Larval got a club in Rochester, N.Y., a ticket.
Brainard: No, I have never gotten a ticket, but C-Pop got lots of complaints after Noise Camp ’98.
Have you ever had a bad noise experience?
Warmbier: Yes, several times at various bars, clubs, performance spaces.
Brovold: I have had more bad noise experiences than I care to remember, many of them self-inflicted.
Karty: Every time a band plays for too long it starts to sound like a bad noise and I get bored.
Brainard: When some men cut down the big, beautiful tree across the street starting at 8 a.m.