The nature of this recording dictates the conditions under which it must be played: after the sun has set, after the workers have gone home, after the traffic has died down, after the children have left the streets; and alone. IIN is an intensely solitary recording, best experienced in the dead of night, beyond even the reach of crickets and birds. It’s not music for parties, driving, or exercising, and it’s likely that no one will ever ask that it be turned down. Forget a closer listen; unless the conditions are right, this one’s hard to hear.
And yet IIN differs from its contemporaries in the quiet music field in two ways: the sound levels have not been turned down (in fact, they seem to have been turned up), and the sound field is busy throughout the recording. Darius Ciuta deals with micro sound, which is not the same thing as quiet sound. The focus is instead on the tiny, elusive note, whether pre-recorded, processed or percussed. These three main layers often exist simultaneously, although they are not the only ones to be found here. The sound of wind is a frequent visitor, as are the crackles of what could be fire. Conversational loops wander in and out. Electronic tones are given space to expand and evaporate. Knocks and clicks abound: footsteps, house keys, cabinets, a typewriter, the sound of a cassette placed in its casing – it’s hard to be sure when the context has been removed. Is Ciuta walking around while the recording is playing, incorporating live activity into a second recording? Or is he erasing the macro from pre-existing sources, discarding it as uninteresting or banal? Do the water sounds reflect the repetition of nature, or the segmenting of a larger recording? Is a pattern set into play man’s best imitation of the suburban environment? Why then add snippets of song? Where is the sound world that Ciuta is describing?
The answer is, everywhere and nowhere. One may hear the sounds of nature, laughter, knocking and suburban hum together every day without noticing, but never at these levels, in which the naturally loud is reduced and the naturally soft is amplified. This is an artificial environment, although one would hate to think it was an idealized environment. Instead, it’s an exercise in sonic fairness, in which small, unobserved sounds are given a chance to compete in the same sonic field. When something like a drone develops in the forty-third minute, it’s almost disappointing; we’ve grown accustomed to the reshuffled arena. Strangely, we don’t want this piece to expand, and when it disappears three minutes later, its absence is a relief. After one more visit, it vanishes for good, and things grow quieter than ever before – so quiet that they can be drowned out by the hum of a refrigerator or the settling of a house. When these sounds seem loud, we realize that Ciuta has succeeded in teaching us something profound about the nature of hearing. (Richard Allen)