The secret life of the inaudible | Christina Kubisch & Annea Lockwood


The secret life of the inaudible | Christina Kubisch & Annea Lockwood
Gruen 180 | Double CD > [order]


CD 1 – Annea Lockwood
WILD ENERGY | 2016 (with Bob Bielecki) — (29:49)
Sound engineering and mastering: Tom Hamilton, New York


CD 2 – Christina Kubisch
NINE MAGNETIC PLACES | 2017 — (13:26)
BELOW BEHIND ABOVE | 2017 — (22:32)
Sound engineering: Eckehard Güther
Mixed at Studio Hoppegarten
Mastering: Douglas Henderson



About our collaboration.


Annea and I first met in New York in 1975. I was writing an article about the experimental music scene in New York for an Italian magazine. We soon found out that we had a lot of common interests and ideas. In 1979 she came to Italy and together we performed her piece „World Rhythms“ at a festival in Como. I was deeply impressed by how Annea combined technical skills with intuitive performance.


Sound for her always has been more than just material to bring into a compositional form. It was more than raw material, it had a complex structure of its own and was transporting energy. Annea translated and communicated this energy to the listener and she does this with unusual intensity until today.


Over the years we followed each other’s works but unfortunately did not meet as often as we would have liked. During her stay in Berlin earlier this year we had another chance to discuss our works, materials, researches, concepts, doubts and future projects. The idea of a collaboration was a natural consequence of this exchange. We both investigate soundworlds which normally are not audible. Annea questions how the forces of nature influence us, I question how manmade electromagnetic fields have an impact on our lives. And we both love field recording, especially exploring underwater sounds with hydrophones.


We decided to exchange sound materials and left it open to the other what to choose and how to mix it into a new composition. The two new pieces which were created by this exchange are different but at the same time seem to belong together somehow. Annea sent me extracts from recordings of VLF chorus waves, solar oscillations, earthquakes, gas vents etc. while I transmitted to her a collection of recordings of electromagnetic waves which I had made audible and recorded with special custom designed induction headphones. Annea’s sound material was coming from sonic ultra and infra ranges and was speeded up or shifted down in order to become audible, my recordings are analog and were made directly on site in different cities. The sounds we use are all strange and powerful and they go together as if they were especially made for this collaboration. Until now what kind of influence the sources of these normally hidden waves have on us is not much explored. It is up to the listener to find out more about it.


Thanks to Gruenrekorder who supported our project from the beginning. — Christina Kubisch, November 2017



CD 1 – Annea Lockwood
WILD ENERGY | 2016 (with Bob Bielecki)



Wild Energy gives access to the inaudible, vibrations in the ultra sound and infra sound ranges emanating from sources which affect us fundamentally, but which are beyond our normal audio perception, many of which are creating our planet’s environment: the sun, the troposphere and ionosphere, the earth’s crust and core, the oxygen-generating trees – everything deeply integrated, forming an inaudible web in which we move, through which we live and on which we depend. It is our sense that through these sounds one can feel the energies generated, not as concepts but as energy-fields moving through one’s body. Here they have been shifted up (infrasound) or down (ultrasound) to bring them into the human audio range.


Wild Energy begins with solar oscillations (acoustical pressure waves) recorded by the SOHO spacecraft – 40 days of solar oscillations sped up 42,000 times, and ends with ultrasound recorded from the interior of a Scots pine tree.


Recordings made available to Annea Lockwood by scientists at the universities of Hawaii, Stanford, Iowa, Columbia (USA) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.


Sound sources:


The sun, acoustical pressure waves – recording courtesy of Alexander Kosovichev, Solar Oscillations Investigation team, Stanford University
Gas vents and tremors, Mt Kilauea – recordings courtesy of Milton Garces, the Infrasound Laboratory, University of Hawaii
VLF Chorus waves and Whistlers; Auroral Kilometric Radiation radio waves –recordings courtesy of Craig Kletzing, Radio and Plasma Wave Group, University of Iowa
Sei whale – recording courtesy of Arthur Newhall, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Earthquakes – recordings courtesy of the U.S.G.S; Ben Holtzman, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University and Jason Moran
Trees, cavitation events and ultrasound emissions – recordings courtesy of Melvin Tyree; Roman Zweifel , Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and Marcus Maeder, Zurich University of the Arts, Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology
Hydrothermal vents – recording courtesy of Timothy Crone, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Bats: pipistrelle, California myotis, silver-haired bats,; big brown bat and Grote’s tiger moth recording courtesy of Aaron Corcoran, Wake Forest University


CD 1 – Annea Lockwood



Composing with combined sound files and sources, six from each of us, has been a unique experience for me, and a deep pleasure. I have long found Christina’s explorations of the electromagnetic fields within which we live now revelatory and essential – beautiful in their sonic detail and powerful in their effects on my body. And there is satisfying sense of complementarity here: Human-created sounds from Christina’s electromagnetic world, a world which she has been hugely instrumental in revealing to us, and non-human sounds and vibrations from the geophysical, atmospheric and mammalian spheres which are my sources.


Her sounds were a delight to work with, often with a clear pitch element and, while fluctuating in their details and flow, essentially stable. This contrasts well with the event-driven, more turbulent rhythms and noise content of my materials. It was fascinating to play with these differences and discover how easily our sounds blend as if drawn together magnetically into layered textures. I am most grateful to Christina for suggesting this collaboration.


Sound sources:


Annea Lockwood: Tremors and a bench collapse on Mt Kilauea, Hawaii, VLF whistlers, earthquakes in Sumatra and Honshu, Japan, ultrasonic sounds from a Scots pine tree, the Mid-Ocean Ridge Black Smoker hydrothermal vent, solar oscillations.


Christina Kubisch: electromagnetic waves recorded in a subway station, a server room, an underground tunnel, a power station, shopping centers and in the countryside during a thunderstorm after electricity had broken down.



CD 2 – Christina Kubisch



Nine magnetic places is a journey without knowing where to go, what to find, how long to stay or what will come next. It is a discovery of a hidden world, a dreamlike trip by which the traveller encounters unexpected juxtapositions and sequences of electromagnetic waves. The piece was inspired by the first book using the technique of automatic writing, „Les champs magnétiques“ by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, published in Paris (1920).


The electromagnetic recordings were made in or traveling to: Las Vegas, Gdansk, Ystad, Kosice, Montreal, Bordeaux, Manchester, Dortmund, San Francisco, Paris, Ekaterinburg, Lagos, Venice, Bratislava, Bangkok and other places.


CD 2 – Christina Kubisch



When I was about to finish this piece two powerful storms, called Xavier and Herwart, swept through northern Germany and Central Europe following each other within three weeks. The storms produced hurricane winds and left a path of destruction knocking down trees, power lines and buildings and caused widespread travel chaos.


I was working in my studio during both storms, looking at the shaking trees in front of my house while I was listening to sounds from vulcanos, solar oscillations, earthquakes and the intense vibrations of electromagnetic fields.


The experience of the two storms had a strong impact on my work. The piece became a kind of encounter of different energies and vibrations which meet in unforeseen ways.


Sound sources:


Annea Lockwood: Volcanic gas vents, VLF chorus waves and whistlers, earthquakes, solar oscillations and ultrasonic tree sounds.


Christina Kubisch: electromagnetic recordings from light systems, seismic research centers,transmitter systems and others. Hydrophone recordings from the river Rhein.





Copyright texts:
Christina Kubisch, Annea Lockwood


Copyright compositions:
Annea Lockwood BMI, Christina Kubisch GEMA


Ruth Anderson, Christina Kubisch, Peter Kutin, Fabrizio
Plessi, Dieter Scheyhing, Christopher Williams


UV photography:
Christina Kubisch, from the series „Traces“, 2011


Graphic design:


4 Tracks (74′20″)
Double CD (500 copies)


Soundscape Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2018 / Gruen 180 / LC 09488 / GEMA / EAN: 4050486122327





‚The secret life of the inaudible’ is the first collaborative work of two of the 20th century’s most revered and important female sound artist/electro-acoustic composers Christina Kubisch and Annea Lockwood. Using purely natural sounds, such as Volcanic gas vents, earthquakes, solar oscillations and ultrasonic tree sounds – as well as electromagnetic recordings from light systems and seismic research centers,transmitter systems and others, they build an ultra-vivid, immersive psychoacoustic mass of rare beauty.


A cause of extreme disgruntlement for this writer is the passive awareness that the bulk of a lifetime was splurged on issues and people not belonging to a sphere of intuitions and considerations even marginally correlatable with his own. If one inaugurates the process of growth by being predominantly attracted by non-vocal emissions, it is foreseeable that – quite soon – attention will not be given anymore to individuals imparting sagacity via mere words, typically instilling some kind of dismay in the potential victim. In that sense, imagine the (adult) quotidian disheartenment for not having a chance to remain within essential acoustic domains when the calls comes; silence is mandatory to do that, and silence is by now a rare commodity. Finally, try to explain all of the above to someone blathering non-stop because convinced – possibly via previous trauma – or out-and-out pretending of living outside his/her body, then get back to me for a good laugh together.


But we do get privileged whenever communicating – remotely but, by the grace of heavens, through sounds – with truly developed beings such as Christina Kubisch and Annea Lockwood, themselves linked by a long-time friendship and artistic consanguinity that never had resulted in a tangible collaboration. Until today.


Narrating yet again what these women have been doing throughout their histories of sonic researchers would be pathetic (but if you still think there is a need to, a peep to the presentation notes of this release will help explicating the kernel of the matter). This double CD encloses four handsome compositions derived from the manipulation of swapped materials; the common denominator is the attempt of turning invisible energies and inaudible frequencies into physically perceivable substances destined to increase one’s congenital acumen. Kubisch and Lockwood operate at levels of intuitive interiority unconceivable by the average gatherer of location recordings and electronics. We can literally “feel inside” the gradual effect of sources reconfigured in various types of aural concretization. They emerge as penetrating hums of radiophonic descent, or may resemble marine currents inhabited by a somewhat alien fauna attempting new forms of signal transmission. The ordinary becomes unconventional; the voice of nature and its private tumults get disfigured by deforming lenses that, rather amazingly, emphasize the gravity of each single event.


That these pieces ultimately can stand proudly amidst the finest electroacoustic musics of the last few decades is obviously a plus. However, what really counts is the implicit message: communication does happen at every stage of physical existence, including the supposedly inanimate. In times when most humans are bamboozled by things that do not exist particularized by brains that do not work, what we have to do is raising the aerials way up. Consequences – if there is sufficient emotional fuel in your personal tank – will inevitably materialize.


Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY
These two ladies, grande dame each of them in the world of field recordings and sound installation first met in 1975 when Kubisch interviewed Lockwood for an Italian magazine, and since then off and on meet, but this is the first time they actually work together. They both like underwater sounds and Annea is interested in the force of nature influencing us, and Christina does the same with electromagnetic fields in our daily lives. They exchanged sound material together and worked on each other’s sounds. However if I am not mistaken on each CD there is a solo piece. Annea Lockwood makes the inaudible audible, with ultra and infra sound frequencies, and it begins with “solar oscillations recorded by the SOHO spacecraft, 40 days of solar oscillations sped up 42,000 times, and ends with ultrasound recorded from the interior of a Scots pine tree”, and is a truly fascinating aural journey in space; or at least that’s how I perceived it, like a free floating spaceship in a vast, endless, black surrounding, with sometimes intercepting transmissions from other life forms. In her piece with Kubisch there is a fine combination of six sources per composer and has a more down to earth feel to it. Sounds from electro magnetic waves, VLF whistlers and earthquakes make up from very fine ambient piece of music, without betraying it’s musique concrete roots. Kubisch keeps her solo piece shorter than the collaborative piece and is a thirteen-minute excursion in the buzzing whirring of modern day city life. It is a very solid piece of ambient sounds, not loud or alienating, but just solid. It is perhaps a bit of standard solid piece; nothing special or out of the ordinary. But then her longer collaborative piece, ‘Below Behind Above’, is on the other that something special. It works very much along similar lines as the Lockwood side of the collaboration. Here too things remain on a very ambient side of things, with slowly fading sounds somewhere in the mid-range, sine-wave like and very gentle, along with a more ‘stand alone’ sounds, rumbles, pitches and the occasional earthquake. This is a beautiful and intense piece of absolute beauty.