Our Man In Maine: id m theft able's A Tuba (With A Microphone Stuck In It) Series Soothes

By Chris Strunk For Brain Arts Org

May 9, 2020


id m theft able, also known as Scott Spear, is one of the most unique players in the current noise/experimental music scene. Hailing from rural Maine, his live sets are a mixture of sound poetry, harsh noise, manipulated household objects, cassette abuse, and performance art. What always fascinated me about id m theft able is his ability to coax interesting sounds out of the most unlikely of objects. I once saw id m play a set with nothing but two coffee mugs and his voice, somehow getting a remarkable array of tones and timbres out of the coffee mugs. A different time I saw him play an incredible set with nothing but his voice and a shovel. Another time I saw him play a set with nothing but a few pieces of styrofoam. His sets have a way of feeling incredibly refreshing when they sit in a bill with a number of other experimental musicians who take the more typical experimental music routes of effects pedals and modular synths. He probably plays hundreds of shows per year, and he is a hero and a role model for everyone.

In addition to his live performance work id m is busy in several other areas. He makes amazing collage art which has been published in few small run book collections. He curates an amazing cassette and cd-r imprint called Mang Disc, which has released some amazing recordings by id m himself, the tragically under documented Shea D. Mowat, and Crank Sturgeon. Mang Disc also puts out the amazing found tapes series, where Id M releases hilarious and/or tragic home recorded ephemera from cassettes found in thrift stores.

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Another area that id m works in is long form durational work where he makes recordings of sound installations constructed out out of simple household items or items found in thrift stores. This might be my favorite thing that he does. Previously, id m made a series called 1 Drizzle and 7 Rains (For Billy) in which he left various objects, such as shards of broken glass, hand drums, license plates, xylophones, and glockenspiels in his backyard in the rain and recorded the results. The field recordings made from these field recordings were stunning mixtures of resonating metal, thumps, and rain and insect noises. They can be treated as lovely background noise, but if you pay close attention there is a lot of rich detail. They are an amazing expression of what Id M sometimes refers to as his “budget avant garde” technique.

During our current pandemic, id m has done another similar durational recording project called A Tuba (With a Microphone Stuck In It).

In this series, id m, as the title implies, has taken a tuba, stuck a microphone in it, and made a series of recordings of various rivers and streams in the greater Portland, Maine area. The resulting recordings capture the sounds of various bodies of running water resonating through the tuba to create drones and rattles in addition to the sounds of running water. There is an incredible variety to these recordings in pitch and timbre. Some of the recordings are much more percussive than others, some are higher pitched, and some are a low deep rumble that sound like the earth itself lumbering through space, and in this uncertain time, what could be more soothing than the sound of the music of the spheres?

Similar to 1 Drizzle and Seven Rains (For Billy) you can either have these recordings on as soothing background noise, or you can pay close attention to the amazing detail that is present in these recordings. In addition to these recordings on bandcamp, id m also filmed these recordings and put them up on youtube. In a stressful time, I’ve found watching the videos from this series where the Sun sets while the recording is taking place to be incredibly soothing.

id m has been up to a lot of during the pandemic. In addition to the Tuba series, he’s made various great videos of woods walks, and recorded live sets played in locations such as his car and a gravel pit, and he’s made some more great collages of found thrift store tapes. Probably because I live in the city and can't get outside as much as I'd like to , I’ve found all of id m's output to be very comforting in this stressful time because I get to experience nature through his work. I highly recommend checking all of it out.