The Perfect Storm

Stephen Bradley

Writes Bradley, “The Perfect Storm (TPS) accesses virtual shortwave radio transmissions broadcast on the World Wide Web. Before composing TPS, I explored a number of supplied listening resources, including KiwiSDR, a software-defined radio (SDR) receiver at numerous radio receivers from around the world. I selected what appeared to be the strongest or weakest signals and jumped channels randomly. By lengthening the selection area, I could listen to a narrowly focused frequency that increased the radio noise.

Once a receiver is selected at the top of the browser window, the page begins to scroll down, revealing a digitally bright-colored waterfall, strands of blue, yellow, yellow-orange and exposing an interactive visual representation of the numerous radio transmissions in real time. This process introduced the possibility of performing the SDR as a musical instrument, rather than listening in a linear fashion. It is possible to interact with a large swath of frequencies based on visual color information, clicking and selecting frequencies, besides what is heard on a particular channel. At the same time I was listening and sampling the various shortwave transmissions, I recorded the sounds from a leaky window during a stormy day with 40 mph plus wind gusts.

The final composition of TPS is made up of shortwave transmissions disrupted or blown around by gusts of energy from a disclosed location. Physical and virtual acoustic spaces collide and clash, demanding the listener’s attention, inevitably overcome by the perfect storm of distant distractions.”