Mike Vernusky

Audio Excerpts

Blue Mass (2014)
Red Mass (2010)
White Mass (2012)

The Holy Sea entails a six hour listening experience constructed from sacred and non-sacred sounds from the ever-present undercurrent of antiquated phonographic records that inhabit our planet and that demonstrate the ideologies, memories, and dreams of our collective cultural past. Pre-recorded voices, sounds, or musical passages are carefully being extracted from their original sources and digitized, then re-contextualized and orchestrated into a new, hallucinatory sound experience with its own internal logic and flow. By loosely following the form of the liturgical Mass, it gives formal structure to the wide array of sound worlds and allows for various interpretations of its musical and spoken content.

Across the larger work, source material is curated from an endless variety of phonographic recordings pressed throughout history including field recordings from throughout world history, Netsilik Eskimo myths, Hollywood sound effects libraries, Hörspiel, miscellaneous choral and instrumental sacred musics (Medieval to 20th Century), aids for self-hypnosis, Houdini’s final séance, self-help instruction, audio transmissions from space, a live childbirth, and live exorcism, and many others. Also included are rare acetate recordings of intimate events such as a private wedding ceremony from 1963 or other similar field recordings, of which the record may be the only surviving copy in existence.

The Holy Sea seeks to organize and collide these sounds into a singular experience by installing them in a hybrid orchestral-like setting. Convolving unconventional spaces with word and sound symbols, these sonic allegories become the primary language of a previously existing but untold musical story. In this narrative, however, the lines between music, sound art, religion, history, text, and life become blurred: unrelated soundworlds are placed into direct conversation with one another, an implied language emerges behind the spoken one, and musics or sounds from disparate cultures of the world are melded into a single, unified story.

Featured here are excerpts from the larger work, curated by Francisco López.

The Holy Sea
All Rights Reserved © Mike Vernusky 2010-2019

Mike Vernusky

mikevernusky at gmail dot com

A downpour inside a cathedral. Air through the eyes.
Traffic implosions in Mumbai. Helicopters taking off from necks.

Mike Vernusky creates electronic music for radiophonic sound, theatre, and film. His music has been described as ‘brash’ (New York Times), ‘isolationist’ (The Wire), ‘especially otherworldly‘ (New Music USA), ‘strange & intriguing‘ by Exclaim, and ‘étonnante‘ by EtherReal France.

He lives in Austin, Texas.

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