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Sound is a powerful sense. Hearing something powerful—whether it’s a noise, a song, or just the slightest whisper—will travel through your temporal lobe, right into your primary auditory cortex, triggering a peculiar reaction. For those diagnosed with synesthesia—a neurological disorder that melds senses together—hearing something powerful can also mean seeing or tasting it.
With her solo experimental noise project PraxisCat, local composer Christine Paluch “[explores] the relationship between synesthesia and urban spaces,” creating commanding and strange soundscapes that, if not triggers full-on synesthesia, certainly conjures up feelings of anxiety and dread—not an uncommon feeling living in a rapidly evolving city like D.C.
On PraxisCat’s Decay, released earlier this month, Paluch composed seven haunting, looming tracks that sound as if they could score a dark sci-fi film. Paluch is a masterful musician who uses a variety of instrumentation for her music, but Decay is all about modular synthesizers, sequencers, and software, she tells Arts Desk. It’s a process that’s equal parts improvisation and meticulous layering and manipulation, Paluch says:
The process is essentially one that evolves through improvisation, with often the original core being improvised, then other elements being added and subtracted through time. It is a bit like playing off of a riff, but more through using a bit more of a musique concrete philosophy, taking off the sound themselves, the frequencies (as supposed to notes/pitches), using audio manipulation and synthesis to string it together into an audio atmosphere. The point is to be a little more loose overall in structure, which may seem contrary from somebody who uses sequencers as part of the process.