Somnambule - Writing About Music

John Hudak ~ Room With Sky

60 minutes of glimmering quicksilver falling through the fingers of a cupped hand. An hour’s worth of extra-terrestrial speech. The sound of distant starlight. A Mark Rothko painting seen through a shimmering heat-haze The urge to create metaphors is difficult to resist. The title of John Hudak’s latest work also conjures memories of sitting in one of James Turrell’s skyspaces (the artist has created a series of rooms in various locations around the world, each with a single opening in its ceiling and seating around the edge that allows visitors to gaze up undistracted at a patch of sky). The inside flap of the cd binder lists a number of indistinctly rendered words that might conjure a more prosaic image than the foregoing impressions:

“branches, sky, armore, comforter, books, door, cat, wood, clothes...” (and so on)

Further investigation reveals that the sound originates in a recording of Hudak’s stream-of-consciousness speech. It isn’t specified whether the words are a part of the recorded monologue, but the impulse certainly forms the basis of a work that, through the alchemy of digital filtering, is transfigured into something magically penumbral. Room With Sky initially appears to be a twinkling near-constant, but every so often the key of its sound takes a downward step or pauses for less than an instant. Consequently it fascinates both in the exact expanse of its 60 minutes (as though Hudak were merely cutting a slice from the day) and in a level of change akin to the bubbling of a stream, whose edges are generally defined by the wash of its flow, but whose precise form is momentary and impossible to remark unaided.

Room With Sky is the third release on Spekk, a label established slightly under a year ago by Nao Sugimoto. It continues the focus upon a delicate form of electronic minimalism (important to note the small ‘m’) explored previously by Taylor Deupree and William Basinski. Spekk joins the small number of labels (such as Rune Grammofon, Touch and Hat Hut) which pay rewardingly close attention to the presentation of their music as well as the music itself. As a result the label’s delicate, vertically-formatted card binder provides an attractively subtle counterpart to Hudak’s work.

Colin Buttimer
January 2005
Published by the BBC