Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Sound of Neal Rockwell I

Had quite the caper to encounter Neal Rockwell’s sound piece at Chapel Arts, part of LIVE Biennale. It was raining, a good reason not to have an auditory adventure, but what of it? Rain be damned, the Eustachian tubes are most deserving. The sound piece was a little tricky to locate in the building. Where is it? I asked a few people. In the other room and there it was. A cassette player. A set of headphones. Sat on a low brown table. A woman sat on a green chair nearby talking on a mobile phone.

The cassette player was a particular shape that was prevalant in the eighties, rectangular RCA brand.   There were a few of us standing around, reminiscing briefly on old technology and delilah to see the merry old cassette in it’s shoe box shaped player.. then one man retreated to the roundtable meeting next door and it was me and the tape machine, which I poked and pushed and put the earphones on to dead silence. No hiss. No miss No sound.

I concluded this lack of sound must be part of the piece. Another man joined me and we speculated. P’haps we are to record the piece. I opened the tape. It read Neal: Radio Play. Maybe we’ve to write the radio play?

A few others joined us. We stood around the tape player. A man took out the headphones and cranked it up and joy! A male voice burst out of the tape player telling us he once worked at the Best Western Hotel and had an encounter with a man who ate chicken legs. (not an accurate quote). The voice was high pitched and elongated: very funny. The group of us started laughing. I was happy that we might hear the piece as a group. But then a bloke said “we’re starting soon” about the roundtable meeting in the room beside us somehow rounded everyone up.

Everyone dispersed. It was me and the machine. I plugged the headphones I had no faith in, into the machine and like most agnostic ruminations they did not disappoint.

Silence. The high, breathy male voice banging on about chicken legs was gegangen.

Tomorrow I will tell you further about my adventure to try to hear the sound of Mr Neal Rockwell.

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