Sound for Pent-Up and Under Gone

Shape note songs written by Carrie Dashow and Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg, recorded by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg. Insect sounds by Matt Bua. Five-channel mix by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg.

Five-channel sound installation in "Pent-Up and Under Gone" at Jessica Murray Projects in New York, NY.

From the Pent-Up and Under Gone press release:

Passing through boarded-up windows and doors — entering the front room into a subdued glow — with smoke rising from below — the flicker of video and a smell of dirt. Pent-Up and Under Gone is a solemn summer show that takes you through this darkness and into the light.

Five robotic, monitor-headed creatures, situated at the five points of a pentagon, divulge a labyrinth of cave and tunnel systems — industrial demise — a decent into the underworld. In the center of the video pentagon is a ten-foot-long uprooted lighthouse — fallen, yet levitating, inches above the floor — infested with exotic cockroaches and worms. Singers whisper through the air: "like stirring glass and dimming dusk," ... "this empire toppled some time around now."

Pent-Up and Under Gone uncovers the recent chapters of the earth's relationship with humankind to this time of now when we are no longer here.

A different voice hovers above each informant in Pent-Up and Under Gone, speaking the language of the insects inhabiting the fallen lighthouse and singing shape note music, an unaccompanied community singing style once popular in Upstate New York.

Shape note music is a form of participatory unaccompanied group singing that has been continuously practiced in the United States for over 200 years. At its origins is the singing school tradition that spread westward out of Boston in the late 18th century, popularized in Eastern New York State in the late 18th and early 19th century by tunesmiths such as Stephen Jenks and Nehemiah Shumway. These singing masters traveled the Hudson and Pioneer Valleys, sharing their songs with the local communities. The music features raw harmony, driving rhythms, and full-throated, full-volume, enthusiastic singing. By the mid-19th century, it had been driven out of the Northeast and West in favor of slower, less vigorous music sung by professional choirs.

For Pent-Up and Under Gone, Carrie Dashow collaborated with sound artist and shape note singer Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg to write two new songs in the style of shape note music: "North Adams" and "Undergone." Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg joined with Albany-area shape note singers Pam Regan, Jean and George Seiler, and Allison Schofield to record the songs. The installation merges these human voices from the present and the pre-industrial past with insect sounds recorded by Matt Bua. The five-channel installation was arranged and mixed by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg.