While we may live in an oversaturated time of hi-definition, microwave-pulse paced images and video snippets, one format that has remained in play since the early 1900’s is that of radio. A format perhaps overlooked most in its ability to not only act as a conduit of audio, but also that of a uniquely non-visual live performance, facilitating a direct audio-only portal from performer to the imagination of the listener.
Radio is a place where live collaboration and conversation can occur not just between performers, but with that of the unseen and unheard. There is no immediately distinguishable audience reaction for the performer to intake or react upon. No other sounds or stimuli for the audio generator to realize other than that of which are produced from the point of broadcast. The listener however, collaborates deeply (and often unconsciously) in the listening experience dependent on their environment. A car radio stuck in loud honking Los Angeles traffic with the windows down. A live improv broadcast blasted on a boombox in the back room of a noisy, busy restaurant kitchen. A strange mix show heard only through an open window, intriguing a passerby with the small tidbit that is overheard, unaware of the content let alone the station or origin of the sound. This methodology forces new ways of listening as well as performing, and if there’s one unit evolving and dissecting audio that thrives in such an area of exploration, it is that of Sissy Spacek. The primary core of the ever morphing group here consists of John Wiese and Charlie Mumma, but as shown on these recordings and throughout their discography, Sissy Spacek not only includes, but more accurately incorporates a host of brilliant collaborators from many walks of life and realms. Here we find Sara Taylor (Youth Code) Sarah Bernat (Bad News, 16 Bitch Pile Up), GX Jupitter-Larsen (The Haters), and Damion Romero (Speculum Flight, Astromero) collaborating with the group on these utterly unique, live KXLU broadcasts (a Los Angeles station which Damion Romero himself hosts the decades long running Psychotechnics program that these very sessions appeared on).
Which brings us back back to perhaps one of the greatest tricks, traps, and aspects found in radio — What are we hearing? Who has made this sound and where does it come from? Do these sounds come from the radio room itself? Or are they a product of some crude tape recording forged in a bedroom and brought to be manipulated? Was the group together throughout these decisions or were they conjured individually? What was the vibe and time of day? Was the studio well lit, or draped in darkness for these mysterious sessions? Who is doing what and how? With the visual senses removed, and while simultaneously understanding that these were live radio performances, even a veteran listener is still left to be puzzled by the thoughts and sounds therein. May this collection mark a crucial chapter in the infinite sonic freedom that Sissy Spacek represents. An ability to wildly, freely, expertly navigate the ever changing waters of improvisation and experimental creativity. An appreciation for forms and formats new and old. A respect and reverence for the transmission of thought and sound in all forms, and for the powerful experiences that these methods evoke. (Brandon Hill)