Tabs Out | Tanner Menard – San Francisco: An Audiophony in Four Movements

Tanner Menard – San Francisco: An Audiophony in Four Movements

4.17.20 by Ryan Masteller

Oh, you’re going to like this one. This one is for the nerds, the high-concept lunatics who won’t settle for anything less than full immersion into a subject or practice. Tanner Menard’s cooked up a real winner here with “San Francisco: An Audiophony in Four Movements,” a suite of material for and about (and by?) San Francisco, obviously. Menard solicited their friends Ping Chu and Chris Horgan to capture field recordings and performances in various places around the city’s metropolitan area, and then utilized those recordings, along with a thirty-foot-long piano (with “various experimental tunings by Nick Gish”), to craft the music on this “Audiophony.” A thirty-foot-long piano! That’s like, what, the length of a football* field?

* Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Humans used to play it in the before times.

To suggest that “San Francisco” sounds like a dream of the city would be an understatement – it sounds like a dream of anywhere, with its gently keyed melodies brushing up against and mingling with the ambient sounds of the city itself and its inhabitants. But it’s definitely a love letter to the Pacific coast locale, a wistful paean hovering above the city as if in protection as the sea laps the shore and the faces and bodies mingle in time lapse till everything and everyone is a mass of sentience and blurred motion. The fog rarely lifts, and that’s OK – the fog is part of the San Francisco experience.

Menard effortlessly blends the field recordings with the piano passages, resulting in sheer aural magic that blankets everything in a haze of wonder. If this is how someone perceives San Francisco, then I’m all in for my first trip out there. Of course, I could never live there (too expensive, 49ers, Giants), but I certainly wouldn’t mind a visit. Maybe I could even check out a Tanner Menard installation or two? This is probably hard to recreate live, I’d imagine.

Edition of 100 cassettes housed in a printed O-card on Full Spectrum under the Editions Littlefield series, whose “works … deal with a sense of place.” Obviously! 

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