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ADVANCING THE ARTS ACROSS MARYLAND

Layne Garrett

Layne Garrett

Artist Work

Whirler
2012
sound sculpture
Re-Construction of a Monument, w/ Tape
2009
sound installation
Improvised Performance
2014
sound performance
Gong Chair
2012
sound sculpture
Silver Spring Sound Machine
2011
sound sculpture
King Henry's Harp
2009
musical instrument

Artist Information

County
Montgomery County
Artistic Category

Music, Other, Performing Arts

Artist Statement

As an improvising musician and sound artist, I work with found objects, found sounds, augmented guitars, and self-built instruments. I have a great appreciation for strange sounds and the near-infinite range of timbres that is possible once one foregoes traditional playing techniques and/or traditional instruments. For years I incorporated the sounds of found objects and field recordings into somewhat traditional song structures, producing a sort of assemblage- drenched Americana. In recent years my musical focus has shifted to improvisation, and I have developed an ever-expanding battery of techniques for "preparing" my guitars and banjos: placing metal objects between the strings, bowing/striking/scraping, using small speakers on an instrument to create manipulable feedback loops, etc. In restless pursuit of new sonic palettes I have also built numerous stringed, percussion, and electronic instruments of my own design, and I regularly incorporate these into both recordings and performances. Nearly all of my regular musical collaborations these days are with other non-idiomatic improvisers. As a corollary to constructing my own sound-producing devices, I began to consider some of the more explicitly sculptural and spatial elements of sound-based performance. In this vein, I have built and performed on a set of hanging car-metal gongs in the shape of a map of the USA, and a large freestanding structure containing percussive and stringed elements. I have created multi- channel performance/installations consisting of myriad sound sources being processed through resonant objects. I have organized several collaborative sound happenings in which groups of people have come together to interact with and transform particular sites by sonic means. This transformation is at the heart of what motivates me - transformation not as in changing the nature of but rather making manifest the latently possible and thereby pointing the way to transformative potential in other situations. The guiding principal in my practice is an ethic of improvisation, which I believe allows one to be open to this kind of possibility in all realms. With a real-time collaborator, this means radical openness, true listening, facilitating a degree of ego-dissolution that can yield creative magic. It is not just sound for sound's sake, but sound for freedom's sake, by undermining the given via novel modes of interaction with instruments, with collaborators, with a site -- perhaps inspiring the practice of freedom in others, in their lives.

Artist Bio

Layne Garrett is a musician and sound artist based in Washington, DC. He plays guitar non-conventionally both on his own and in the improvising duo Weed Tree (with drummer Amanda Huron). He also works with found objects, found sounds and self-built instruments recorded to cassette tape and layered in real time. He has released several recordings on the DC-based Sockets label and toured North America by Greyhound bus to share his sounds. His recorded music has been appreciated by the likes of Wire, Arthur, and Foxy Digitalis. His guitar playing has been called “riveting” (-Id M Theft Able) and been likened to that of Bill Orcutt, “if Orcutt didn't like melody” (-Ian McColm). He is active in the DC experimental music scene, hosting house shows for the past six or seven years.

Garrett also creates sound sculptures, installations, and environments. In 2009 he organized a large-scale tape-loop intervention in Rock Creek Park (Washington DC), and since then he has created participatory installations a couple of times each for the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music and for the DC Listening Lounge's annual Sound Scene event. In reference to a particular large freestanding playable structure he built, a collaborator commented: "man i would really love to play that big baby for 12 hours straight it is obviously a meditation key."