Ka Baird is a multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, producer, and performer based in New York City. She is heralded for her boundary pushing live solo performances that involve energetic body movements, extended vocal techniques, interactive psychoacoustics, and innovative use of live electronics. She creates a radically present tense and vigorous type of body music that seeks extreme release through physical exertion and psychic extension. Her debut solo album Sapropelic Pycnic was released through independent Chicago label Drag City in 2017. Her latest recording Respires was released through Brooklyn based imprint RVNG Intl. in October 2019.
This recording is from a performance that was filmed on my Greenpoint Brooklyn studio rooftop at sunset on October 9, 2020 for The Kitchen’s (NYC) On Screen series. The piece was timed to capture the eclipse of the day’s light, incorporating peaked ambient sounds of the outdoors environment and cityscape; a contact mic’d ground surface; and closed-off, direct input sounds from voice, electronics, and digital piano. My contribution to the Longform Editions is the second movement of this performance where I play plodding piano chords as the sun eclipses. The piece can be divided into five distinct Broods, with electronics and field recordings at time of shoot bridging the five parts together. The electronics were provided by Baltimore intermedia artist Max Eilbacher, who mostly processed and synthesised the sounds of the digital piano to create textures and drones.
The piece felt of the times, in a time of great suspension and uncertainty, especially in the US in October. Not only were we facing a long winter of the pandemic but also an election that seemed of absolute urgency and importance. The external world seemed to be in such a precarious place. My best and only defence was to slow down and listen. I am hovering here on the unknown, needing to meditate on the spaces between notes more than ever.
Listening is a portal that keeps opening up further portals. In other words, the more you listen the more you realise how much there is to listen to. Listening is political, a way of making space. Over time, we create habits and patterns of action and thought that block out certain stimuli from the outside. Deep listening or concentrated listening is a way of opening that back up, a technique for meditation and dissolving the separation between the self and its environment. It goes in with open ears, leaving judgments of right or wrong or any other types of qualitative descriptions in suspension. It is to encounter that sound as if for the first time.