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Singing forever at Tchaikovsky’s House

Come with us to Perm, Russia, where you join us standing outside the Perm opera house in this recording by Mark Wilden, listening in through an open window on an opera singer practising for her next show.

City version:

Sometimes when you listen to an opera singer, you feel like their voice is capable of extraordinary things, like going on forever.

This piece captures that spirit, taking snippets of an opera singer’s rehearsal in Perm and stretching them out, then blending them into multiple layers of synth, to create the impression that a majestic wave of neverending drones is issuing forth from the singer.

The Perm opera house recording was a challenge to work with – being recorded outside next to busy roads and capturing a snatch of secret sounds stolen through a window, there’s a lot of background noise and traffic to fight through to get to the desired source.

We approached this piece having spent some time listening to the astonishing distorted cassette tape explorations of Ian William Craig, whose vocals have something of the undramatic opera about them.

As such, we spent quite a lot of time cleaning up and stripping back the recording to isolate the source, followed by then dirtying it up again with various tape and vinyl effects – once we’d got the effect we were looking for on the vocals, it was a case of blending them closely into layers of heavily-effected synth arpeggios to create the dreamlike effect.

Memory version: