red sprites, blue jets, noctilucent clouds, whistling air, diffuse, faraway haze
Composer: Andrew McManus
In the mesosphere – too high for aircraft and too low for spacecraft – fleeting electrical phenomena like red sprites, blue jets and noctilucent clouds consistently elude careful study. Higher still, in the thermosphere, are gas molecules that vibrate furiously in isolation, superheated by the sun but so thinly spaced that they cannot collide with one another to properly constitute a gas. Mesospherics musically inhabits these strange, poorly understood places. The piece uses ambisonic spatialization techniques to situate a wide variety of sounds, both processed and synthetic, in a very large three-dimensional virtual space. Some of these have clear images attached, such as the whistling air sounds of the opening, while others have less concrete associations. Some are fixed in place, articulate and very close, while others resemble a diffuse, faraway haze, and still others fly rapidly and brilliantly through space. But all of these sounds are highly fragmented and elusive, much like the fascinating and bizarre phenomena we observe in the earth’s upper atmosphere.