Spectres circle Quiet Rooms, never appearing fully to the eye. Deep in the subconscious, we may be aware that something isn’t quite right, but any experience of paranormal phenomena is one out of sight, influenced by a slight, fearful dread and an urgency to avoid the unrelenting, breathless atmosphere cycling around the tiny bathroom. It may be due to a lack of ventilation, but it may be something else. The air is definitely colder in there, and in each of these four hotel rooms that become a temporary accommodation during our stay. Check in and enter…
A surreal sixth sense seems to be finely tuned for Italian experimental sound artist Deison. The recordings in Quiet Rooms are of empty hotel rooms that may not be as empty as we first thought. As the key clicks on the turn, the first striking thought is just how active in sound the rooms really are, even with no presence inside. Hissing pipes and ringing telephones erase standard musical elements; disappearing quarter and eighth notes are replaced by unique bars of music.
This is a spooky confine, void of personality and designed for transience, with no reassuring trace of home. It is this distance from home, in an unfamiliar place, that heightens the music’s increasing sense of isolation. These quiet rooms aren’t entirely soothing either, revealing just why there was a vacancy available. As Quiet Rooms advances, the peeling walls carefully kiss their secrets goodbye. Couple this with possibly the creepiest cover art in the world and we are left with a disturbingly eerie and yet sickly serene listen.
The ultra sensitivity in the unseen comes alive, both inside the ethereal air of drone and inside our very room. Dread, mystery and deep alienation absorbs into the walls, where a couple of paintings tilt at ever-so-slight, slanted angles; enough of an angle to seduce returning eyes again and again to that eerie painting. A ruffled curtain inhaling a thin breeze, a flitting obstruction filtering out the light under our doorway; these rooms have a dark history.
Barcelona, Venice, New York, Los Angeles and Milan; all of these recorded cities become phantoms inside the music. Beautifully spectral, the music breathes the faintest touch of supernatural drone. Perhaps the most frightening thought comes in the knowledge that these recordings have been taken in real places and real environments; there is no artificial fiction to save us. Quiet Rooms could favour the haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining – those weren’t pipes rattling in Room 217’s bathroom. The door remained locked for a reason, hindering any “Private Exploration”. “Lost Key” increases our separation from the world, and of loved ones distances apart. A rattling subway passes through the drone, and a cheap, electronic buzz allows us to creak open the door, a one night stand dressed in tacky curtains and a view of a pitch black alley. There’s no room service here.
‘The number you have dialled cannot be reached at the moment. Please try again later’.
All of the field recordings enter at will, much like any spirits who appear as they wish. Even the pipes sound different – colder than the ones at home – and the water tastes sour for some reason. Sleep is only a wishful dream. The reality is cold isolation and spiraling paranoia. Is that really just the air conditioning? It must be imagined, in the same way that The Shining was only a work of fiction and not an actual, physical hotel…if that’s what we are led to believe. “Not Available” turns to “Air Conditioning” in a seamless, perfect trance, drfiting in and out of sleep on pillows that feel like rubber.
Quiet Rooms is an eerie treat that deserves to be experienced; the trick is behind the fish-eye lens of room 217. Always a flux of activity, be it the paranormal kind or not, these hotel rooms are constantly occupied. New experiences absorb into the walls every day. The kids will certainly be scared if Quiet Rooms is your chosen ambience this Halloween. It may all be in the mind, but there’s still a feeling these rooms hold guests who never checked out. The lingering smell of perfume at 3. a.m; the little girl who was supposed to be a myth, now revealed around the sharp corner on the third floor.
Don’t forget to lock your door during your stay. (James Catchpole)