Bach Groan Static Sticks (the album formally known as “Background Statistics”)

How do we go to sleep during a crisis? How does intimacy and levity continue to linger in dispiriting times? I was intrigued by the challenge of crafting an ambient ASMR-style album out of otherwise distressing material. The result is Bach Groan Static Sticks (the album formally known as “Background Statistics”), a scrapbook assemblage of field recordings of familiar local soundscapes, conversations (“oral interviews”) with friends and frontline workers, spoken word audio scraps and other sonic experiments sampling common household objects as improvised instruments. All related to the pandemic in some way. I hope it helps you to transgress the confines of your immediate surroundings during this time and that it serves as an aural archive of pandemic life in Singapore.

This is also my chapalang album. I think art should be a bit chapalang and free-spirited, a reprieve from order, otherwise it just acts as another disciplinary tool. So these are some fun, personal, eccentric things I made, made how I wanted to make them (and also some unfun things I made to meet my grant deliverables… see if you can tell the difference). The album’s title comes from the fact that it was originally titled Background Statistics in my grant application because I didn’t think anyone would want to fund an album called Bach Groan Static Sticks. Maybe this album is about how the human imaginative spirit continues to thrive within systems of regimentation, how the grass can continue to grow unruly and free during a lockdown.

I am a magpie. And these are the shiny things I have gathered. Thank you for visiting my nest.

Note: Best experienced with headphones on in a roomful of squabbling family members so you don’t know what’s real and what’s just playing.


1 Neighbourhood Night Omen (Cats Live Stream)
Audio recording of cats crying in the rain.

2 Community Case: Gigi (after Effie)
Story of Gigi having a panic attack on the MRT.

3 Las Brisas Life (Channel Surfing, Spending All Your 
Time Choosing Something to Watch Caffeine)
Stream-of-consciousness passage about the imagined life 
of coffee beans during the pandemic.

4 Frontline Hotline: Swabbing Action
Interview with a former swab assistant.

5 Community Case: Joscelin (after Josephine)
Story of Joscelin falling asleep during work-from-home.

6 WKW Retrospective is Sold Out (Additional Screenings 
Added, Different People Different Films)
Surreal short story about someone named Kopi O, inspired 
by Wong Kar Wai.

7 Frontline Hotline: Night Safari/Topman/987FM
Interview with a trainee nurse in a COVID ward.

8 Day/They/Dey Drinking (Miilowiine)
Song about making powdered beverages.

9 Mr Tan Doesn't Live Here Anymore
A nurse reenacts a conversation with a COVID patient.

10 Circuit Breaker Dreaming: Going Home
Ambient soundscape of car ride home to put you to sleep.
Leave the house without leaving the house.

11 Circuit Breaker Dreaming: Window Shopping
Ambient soundscape of shopping mall to put you to sleep.
Leave the house without leaving the house.

12 Circuit Breaker Dreaming: Riding the MRT
Ambient soundscape of MRT to put you to sleep. 
Leave the house without leaving the house.

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error: Copyright © 2020, Bjorn Lee Varella. All Rights Reserved.
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