Noah Wall is a NYC-based musician who contributed to the soundtrack of the documentary Print the Legend and released a really enjoyable LP called Hèloïse, among many other projects, but this week he released something mighty awesome. Wearing a pair of microphones designed to fit on one’s ears, so as to make incognito stereo recordings as close as possible to exactly what one is actually hearing, Wall made multiple visits to a Manhattan Guitar Center store over the course of three days, and released an album of those field recordings he picked up at random in the Walmart of musical instruments.
March 27, 2015. It’s about 3 on Friday. School’s out and people are headed to Guitar Center Manhattan. I’m going there to do some field recording. A block away, I put on a pair of microphones you might find in a spy catalog. They look like earbud headphones but are actually binaural (stereo) mic’s that go in each ear. No one suspects I’m recording them - more like listening to music or something.
Upon entry, I grab and prominently display the Absolute Beginners Guitar Chords book under my arm. This helps others dispel the possibility of musical prowess on my end. Gets me closer to the action.
This is my third and last day recording here. Some cliques gather in the acoustic guitar room and the occasional couple show off for one another but this place is mostly loners. Trying out a guitar or amp or whatever, they probably didn’t come here to jam with others. But the din has an ensemble effect and the unintentional group is abiding some unspoken rules. There’s a general respect in terms of volume, and sometimes strangers play in the same key and seemingly with one other. On two different days, two different people on two different instruments in two different rooms play the same Jackson 5 song.
In the mere days since he posted the album on Soundcloud, Wall has won new admirers, and prompted discussion of whether making an album this way is even legal. And he posted this wonderful graphic on his Facebook page, compiling social media responses to the work.
I enjoyed the album tremendously, but I tend to go in for this sort of thing anyway. You can listen to it right here, and it’s available for free download on Wall’s Soundcloud. I’m hoping this work gains some viral traction and inspires some remixes, if for no other reason than I’d like to hear them.
Lest you presume Wall to be a mere stunt-driven sound artist, here’s a sample of what he does when he’s making more traditionally “musical” music.