Guest Post: Billy Cancel on “You Beat All Round the Bush for Electronic Crop”

YBARTBFEC is a folkloric post-industrial sonic compound–lots of jumps between voice, tone & time-frames–so it’s well suited to experiment with & re-present as a multimedia piece.

Before undertaking the multimedia work the poem itself had already been learnt & performed at readings; this meant I was very familiar with the sounds & scansion of the work & I had already expanded & implemented ideas regarding the poem’s performance.

I use a Zoom digital recorder & try to find interesting places to record outside. This piece was recorded at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, which is extremely spacious and windy with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway rumbling away close by.

I then frazzle the recording with an archaic sound editing program [Fostex Audioclean]. I prefer not to have a defined idea as to how I will manipulate the sounds at first, but riff & tweak the recording often stretching or splicing parts & changing pitches.

For the visuals I google each line of the poem then scoop any interesting resultant images which I then fry into near-abstraction using Photoshop or Lunapic then put together into sequences. This process leaves much too chance so often brings up interesting surprises.

I use this noise-poem vid format to present my work as the visible words & images allow me to be more flexible with the sonics of the piece (for example dipping in & out of sound poetry or noise) while visibly maintaining the poem’s coherent path.

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11 thoughts on “Guest Post: Billy Cancel on “You Beat All Round the Bush for Electronic Crop”

  1. I really enjoyed this poem though at some parts it was hard to keep focus. Some voices were easier to hear than others yet the jump of voices kept me engaged. The background was really trippy and sometimes the letters were hard to read. I could not exactly tell what the background was and would like to know how it relates the poem.

  2. A clearer connection between the images and the spoken text would have been nice, though I guess part of the point of the images is that they are confusing and disorienting in the same way as the text itself. However, I thought the work was at its strongest at moments like 1:23, when a clear connection is present between the spoken lines about cigars and the background where an advertisement is shown of a man smoking a cigar, with the text of the advertisement very similar to that of the lines of text in the poem. Conversely, I found moments like 0:43 frustrating because the connection between the text and the background image seemed to be absolutely minimal. But once again, I suppose that since the connection between individual lines of the poems seem to be pretty weak (there’s not much here in terms of a single continuous narrative that I could discern) I guess it makes sense to have the connections between images and text seem unclear at times. Overall, I’d say this piece was enjoyable, but I’m not entirely convinced the presence of images was a necessity as the majority of the impact of the poem came from the stuttering, altered audial speaking of the poem.

  3. When I was first listening to the piece by Billy Cancel, I did not know what to make of it. However, I thought that the title matched very well with the content especially because of the use of the word “electronic” in the title and the way the poet is speaking and how his voice is manipulated using machines. There is something about the manipulation of the speaker’s voice and his very brief, measured way of speaking that left me with a very eerie, unsettled feeling. I do appreciate the time and energy that was put into this piece. Reading Cancel’s post I thought about the kind of detail that author’s pay to each section of a piece, the steps they take, and the boundaries they step out of to achieve what they want to achieve. What stood out to me in the post is that he wrote that he did not have a finished product in mind but that he played with the sounds at first and edited them. I think that’s the kind of “plan” that makes for a great finished product, the plan in which you really don’t have a definitive idea of what you want to achieve but rather do a lot of experimentation and exploration.

  4. When the piece first started, I enjoyed the rhythmic quality of the voice. I could almost feel the beat, and could relate the piece to the title and the message of the poem. Being a huge music fan, I was started hearing little songs throughout each section. As it continued, however, I started having a difficult time either reading the words, hearing the strange robotic voice, or both. Still, I enjoyed the piece because, through some of the confusion, I could understand the message of the piece. It also helped replaying the piece over a few times. Although it reminded me a bit of the early nineties, when people were playing with different programs with the internet and computer programs, I enjoyed how Mr. Cancel skewed the perception of the images, as the well as the sound. It gave an interesting tone to the piece, as well as really display the technological implications of the piece.

  5. As soon as I had finished watching this for the first time, I realized how many elements this piece had. Though, after reading Cancel’s post, there was much more to this piece than I had thought. Even though most of the end result had not been planned, a lot of this piece had been delicately pieced together. I also really appreciated the different voices and tones that came with each line. I found this intriguing and beautiful, even though the voices and tones were not smoothly aligned, or even meant to read smoothly. Though, I did notice that even as I replayed this piece over and over again, some texts were always hard to read and were read insanely fast. This made it hard to stay with the poem.

  6. This video was pretty interesting to watch and listen to. It does have a hint of annoyance though because of the robotic voices that spoke in brief bursts of dialogue. In some instances, the dialogue sounded like echoing off-key singing. One thing I did like was how the backgrounds are all eerie and static-like and how they change art styles to match the changing speech patterns. The static ambiance of both the speech and images compliment each other. This piece also felt like a short electronic music video that shows only the lyrics. After all, the title does say, “Electronic Crop.” I am not completely sure what the point of this video was though, but maybe not understanding it adds to its grace and mysteriously eerie style. Overall, I think I like this video, but it should be warned that this video is very unnerving and may be annoying to the eyes and ears.

  7. Well… that is really the only thing that I can say right off of the back to reply to this piece…It was definitely an interesting piece but I found it extremely difficult to get engaged in it primarily because of the abstract images and the almost demonic/possessed sounding voices reading off syllables instead of words. I felt as if i was watching a cult initiation video instead of a poem. Perhaps if an individual was under the influence of psychedelic drugs this would be more entertaining and interesting, but I simply found the whole piece to be obnoxious and unnecessary.

  8. Initially this piece was quite abstract and difficult for me to understand, mainly due to the fact that the images and voices used were distracting me from the poem itself. Also, the robotic method used to recite the poem made me impatient. But, as it got older I saw a connection between the poem and the images presented. I could only connect the images and the words at that very moment but after they were gone I saw no connection or meaning of the poem as a whole. Each line was too disparate and I did not fully grasp the message/purpose of this piece.

  9. I found this piece quite attention grabbing and interesting. Right off the bat once starting the video you are hit with robotic type voices really going with the electronic theme of the title. The voices go with a static beat really giving off the electronic sound as would electronic music . The images I found really related with the robotic tone of the poem, as fuzzy pictures that I believe you would find on an old television screen not getting good service. However the images made my head spin a bit needing to look away to really listen to the poem.

  10. This visual was incredibly difficult for me to understand and follow at first. The different colors seen, and tone of voices heard presented a feeling of visual overload. However, after paying attention to the words being said, and then contrasting that to what was being shown, the piece started making a bit more sense to me. I feel as though Cancel is trying to show how American culture is overwhelmed with so much information and technology. When watching it, I was reminded of how it feels walking through the streets of Manhattan. Everywhere one turns, there is some sort of advertisement or person trying to sell or tell you information about a product to grasp your attention. It is the epitome of consumer overload. Similarly to this piece, we become over consumed with the visuals and noise that engulf us within our everyday lives.

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