The Autodox

Nov 13, 2020, 05:04 PM
Hypocrites created by Daniel Yap.

"In Autodox, the hypocrite hordes of hell chant a verse while they trod upon Caiaphas. Is the chant what it appears to be — cultic gibberish — or does it conceal a deeper truth about how we wind up as hypocrites?

"I took Dante's lead on hypocrisy in religion, and made a concept piece based on the scene in his writing. I chose to explore hypocrisy that is unaware of its self-delusion. Its fault is not in conscious self-contradiction, but rather a reluctance to look itself full in the mirror and run the risk of discovering flaw and mistake. It is satisfied with its moral performance, and doesn't consider inconsistencies or impure motives. I posited that this stems from some need to preserve a perfect self-image. 

"The bulk of pre-production was examining this concept. I wondered how to express the idea of facade and hidden self-obsession and wrote down lines I imagined the consummate hypocrite might say to himself.  The most concise and potent one was, "I'm so thankful I'm not like you." 

"Jesus used the same sentiment to describe the hypocritical Pharisee in Luke 18:11: The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.'

"Then I recalled the controversy surrounding backmasking and rock music in the '90s. Concerned Christians were alleging satanic lyrics were lying buried in the songs of popular bands. You only had to play the tracks backwards to hear the smeary, scandalous proclamations. 

"Backmasking would make an interesting method of producing facade and hiddenness. I though to place the forward sound in ironic tension with the backward sound.

"I started by recording 6 takes of myself singing choir-boy style "I thank God I am not like you" with a Sanken CUX-100K in 24/192kHz. The tune was not meticulously crafted but quickly improvised and then iterated upon. Earlier versions featured overly sweet intervals. 

"Then I experimented with playing back the recording at 96kHz and 48kHz. The CUX-100K preserved the high-frequency detail. I was going for that monstrous, ritualistic vocal sound that comes from drastic octave bombing, but didn't want it too woolly and indistinct.  

"96kHz did the trick. One octave down. Then I reversed it. Now, I had an evil-sounding clip which when flipped back forwards and raised an octave was the recording of a devout, deluded choir boy thanking God for the wrong thing. Next, I exported the 6 takes alternately panned hard left and right. I wanted to re-amp the sung lines with my OKM binaural microphones while standing at various distances from my spare KRKs, deployed to the living room for this occasion. 

"I'd not done this before, but wanted to try creating a sense of motion and to see if I could generate depth by standing 1m, then 2m, then 3m away from the speakers. I also walked towards, away, and in-between the speakers. I wanted a "cloud" of my voices, and to use the variance in spatial characteristics to generate versions of the vocal takes so it wouldn't sound like just thrice-doubled vocals. It's a promising technique, but I didn't have the luxury to spend more time refining it. 

"Then I took the binaural recordings and edited them in an effort to create a horde of hypocrites, singing this infernal chant. The idea came later to just pan the voices from left to right because I didn't think the vocal part generation technique resulted in a truly natural sounding group of 6. 

"This is a bit of a shame because there were some subtle spatial nuances that the binaural re-amp / layer approach generated. Nevertheless, I felt this would create a more obvious sense of movement in the story for the listener. Caiaphas' shrieks are actually downpitched samples of an angry porcine animal. I hope nobody is offended by this choice. 

"I would've recorded and layered the footsteps, cloth and movement foley but ran out of time and gas. In Inferno, the hypocrites wear robes that glitter on the outside but are lined with lead."

Part of the Inferno project to imagine and compose the sounds of Dante’s Hell, marking the 700th anniversary of The Divine Comedy. To find out more, visit http://www.citiesandmemory.com/inferno