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"egnekn's fridge"


On the spine of the cassette it says "egnekn's fridge". On the front it says "The Beat of the...". On the cassette label itself, it says "the beat of the refrigerator" & identifies the sides: "freezer" & "crisper". This recording is of egnekn's fridge. The "beat of the refrigerator" portion of the title is a reference to my essay "& the Deadbeat Goes On & On & On.." in which I propose dancing to the beat of the refrigerator as a preferable alternative to dancing to the usual dance "Deadbeat".

The inside liner notes of the cassette package say: "Since moving to my newest address in August of 1994, my strongest and most persistent sonic experience as been the sound of the refrigerator. It's only natural that it would become a source of attention for me. Because of the architecture of my building the refrigerator sits approximately four feet from my head while I'm sleeping, preparing to sleep, just waking up or not sleeping but in bed. Therefore it's presence in my life is profound. For results simulating my experience lie with your head about 4 feet from the speaker. If you have a choice choose MONO/CONTINUOUS PLAY. For best results listen for periods of not less than 8 hours."

For some people, the thought of recording a fridge is ridiculous - & then the thought of listening to that recording for 8 hours with one's head 4 feet from the speaker(s) is even more ridiculous. It's my contention that the very unusualness of this experience has a significance likely to be unforeseen by most people who don't try it.

I listened to the tape 1st under what are for me fairly ordinary circumstances: as "background" while I was busy with things other than paying attention to the tape. I noticed that the "freezer side" consisted primarily of a recording of a rumbling sound & that the "crisper side" was much more quiet. I decided to play the tape while trying to sleep one night.

My equipment has no mono setting - I could've disconnected a speaker but I just left it as it was. Contrary to egnekn's suggestion, I lay in my normal position about 8 feet from the speakers. The volume was low but clearly audible. My tape player was set for continuous.

Since the alternating sides have different volume levels, I anticipated being frequently awoken by the louder "freezer side". However, I found myself more shocked by the "crisper side" (the use of the word "crisper" could, of course, be an intentional pun on egnekn's part - both referring to the vegetable bin & to the difference in sounds between the sides). Since I live alone in a very quiet farm house, the sounds of human presence (which I'll describe later) on the "crisper side" were ultimately more likely to cause me to awaken in fear or confusion.

I started the tape around 1:00AM & awoke slightly every once in a while until I awoke more or less for the day at around 6:00AM. At this point I was very excited about the tape. I hadn't listened that closely but I found myself involved with listening to the sounds as if they were a mystery. What produced the sound? Where was the mike placed?

Thinking that egnekn has both an 8mm camcorder &, perhaps, some sort of "professional" walkman, I imagined either of these placed in the crisper for that side. I enjoyed anthropomorphizing these recording devices - imagining the camcorder waiting patiently in the crisper for someone to open the fridge door & to put some lettuce in. In my casual listening, I imagined that that's what 1 of the sounds that I heard was.

I remembered that when I'd 1st moved into this house that the refrigerator here had seemed quite loud. Similarly to egnekn's, it's located on the other side of the wall from the "Love Den" where I sleep. The sound of the tape came from the same direction from which I'd originally heard this fridge. I became aware that, having become accustomed to it, I never notice this fridge sound anymore.

I'd already become fairly blasé about the "freezer side" by now too. Close to when 8 hours would be finished, I got out of bed & shut off the tape player's continuous setting & then got back in bed. To my pleasant surprise, exactly when the tape ended , my refrigerator started making the humming sound that I no longer ordinarily noticed! I sprang out of bed & into the kitchen to confirm that it really was the fridge & not the tape.

With the copy of the tape that egnekn sent me was a diagram (apparently created by GE) headed: IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION NORMAL OPERATING SOUNDS & showing what type of sounds originated from which parts of the refrigerator. I used this diagram to help analyze a more close listening & made these notes:

"freezer side":
	buzzing / 
	almost regular "phlumphing" sound
	- may be the evaporator &/or 
evaporator fan
  1:21	cuts off
  1:34	This sounds like an edit to me 
	because it's suddenly so much quieter 
	- this despite the tape cover's claim of 
"NO EDITING". 1:43 same sound fading in - as if devices are turning on 12:29 cutting off again 12:48 Another possible edit point? 12:54 same sound fading in again 15:43 leader 15:52 play direction changes "crisper side": fairly quiet - faint vacillating hum - possibly the compressor 16:38 background sound - something in kitchen? This closer listening seemed to reveal that the recording was made outside the fridge. Alas!, my fantasy of the recorder in the crisper was shattered! [Actually not, egnekn tells me he did record it from inside the crisper] Now came imagining egnekn puttering in the kitchen or a nearby room while he waited for the tape to finish. 20:41 hum shuts off 22:08 plates being moved in kitchen? 22:45 opening the door of the fridge? 23:04 closing it?, etc.. 25:26 opening the door? 25:43 the hum is back. I began to wonder if egnekn had deliberately left the door open to cause the compressor to come back on.. 25:51 creaking hinge 26:01 moving something on fridge shelf?, etc.. 30:59 fade out..
Trying to distinguish the "original" sources of these sounds was as valuable an ear exercise as trying to distinguish a C Melody Sax, e.g. I put the word "original" in quotes because I like imagining the possibility that even the "original" sound might just be a recording of some sort of something else that might just be a recording - so forth & so on in a sort of "infinite regress"..

As a listening experience, the thing that perhaps fascinated me the most about this was realizing that a recording of a sound produces, in playback, A THING OF APPROXIMATELY THE SAME SUBSTANCE AS THE ORIGINAL! This may not seem like much of a revelation, but think of it: In one sense, an audio recording can be thought of as having the same relationship to the original sound as a film does to something seen. However, the sound, when played back exists in space in the same way as the original! Obviously, the film doesn't.

This detachment of sound from its source, this "schizophonia" (to use a term I've seen credited to R. Murray Schafer) has a huge unexploited potential that recordings like "egnekn's fridge" are pointing in the direction of - by not necessarily having a distracting musical purpose (whether that's egnekn's intention or not).

In what ways might mad scientists, such as myself, dis &/or relocate sounds from their sources (in a sense, complicating the relationship of effects to causes) in order to undermine "consensus reality" - or, as I prefer, to investigate "undermining "reality" maintenance traps"? What I mean by "reality" maintenance traps are relationships that reinforce the seeming unmalleability of "reality" in ways that the experiencer might find oppressively trapping. This is a subject I look forward to exploring further.

P.S.: I doubt that the fridge on the tape cover is the same one heard. It's too expensive.

P.P.S.: egnekn can be written to @:

199 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11238, usa