On 22 February 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale hit Christchurch, which combined with a series of massive aftershocks destroyed huge swathes of the New Zealand city. At its epicentre in the port of Lyttelton, sound artist Jo Burzynska (Stanier Black-Five) grabbed a recording device as she ran from her home, leaving it running on her doorstep capturing the aftershocks that ricocheted though her house and the disaster unfolding on the street outside.
This unique recording of the first hour after the earthquake, as well the sounds of seismic and related phenomena of the months that followed, became the main source for Body Waves. The album is a series of three collaborative live performances made around the world with electro-acoustic performer Malcolm Riddoch (Zeug Gezeugt), who used feedback to tune Body Waves to the unique resonant frequencies of each acoustic space in which it was performed. In this vibroacoustic environment, the audience/listeners are immersed in music that goes beyond the auditory system to be felt in the body, akin to the experience of being in an earthquake.
“[Body Waves] pivots on rhythm and continuity, reformatting the sonic phenomena of seismic activity into a heavily layered dramatic composition. It’s component parts – dense bass frequencies oscillating into and back out of distortion, occasional impact crashes, washes of granular sound clouds and metallic drones – are rolled together into a cacophonous, surround-sound blast.”
Nick Cain, The Wire