Academic journal article Chicago Review

From Ambient Parking Lot

Academic journal article Chicago Review

From Ambient Parking Lot

Article excerpt

The recording of "Ambient Parking #25" went off without a hitch. Production efforts approached the sublime. We watched in rapture as the parking lot cooperated with our long-armed mike and seemed to relax into the session. The seven-inch vinyl single was released two and a half weeks later on an indie label underwritten by the University of Krakow, with liner notes cribbed from an anonymous dissertation on Hugo Boss:

  The moment is in the line. The line is in the secret. The secret is in
  the crease. The crease is in the power. The power is in the moment.

Words meant to sketch the condition of high fashion, but which could just as easily be applied to oil-slicked asphalt, acres of grid-striped spaces approximating the breadth and presence of the foreign compact car. Played back, the music emitted a low earthy growl, privileging bass-level amplitude over quasi-narrative pop disappointment. Stripped down to essentials, the noise had the pounding attitude of reverb without its inbred conservatism. As always, a tough-minded aesthetic kept our minimalist concept intact, while the lusciousness of the infinite loop made even the shoegazers smile. With just a little filtering, the empty landscape managed to express its industrially generated solipsism and came to overshadow even the engine gunning and trunk popping of SUVs.

It was a watershed moment in our recording career. The success of "Ambient Parking #25" buoyed our spirits and encouraged us to reconsider our earlier failures among "Ambient Parking #1" through "Ambient Parking #24." These tracks were mixed and re-released as streaming audio B-sides over the Internet. Popular response and unofficial critical attention inspired us to add ever more elaborate explanatory text to our website. A select bibliography of our sources included: 1) the 1999 Small Business Administration report on wage inequities across gender lines in the private sector; 2) the 2000 post-Kyoto Accord report on automotive fuel emissions in major metropolitan concentrations west of the Rockies; 3) the 1980s Kern County stats on rising rates of bullying among girls, ages eight through thirteen, in the Fresno public school district; 4) the pedagogical philosophies of Count Tolstoi; 5) Marcel Proust's unwritten letters to Alfred Agostinelli, volumes one through three; 6) the seminal Technicolor love duets of Rock Hudson and Doris Day; 7) several lesser-known Taoist texts; 8) the Portable New Millennium Anthology of Anti-Late-Consumer-Capitalist Writings, published by Barnes & Noble; and, 9) essays on the unseen footage clipped out by signature jump cuts of early New Wave cinema, contributing to the development of a hidden hipster mise-en-scene that revealed its holiness, leisurely and progressively, to countless generations of twenty-five year olds. (1)

In the midst of our research, we slipped underground and regrouped to discuss proper ambition. After several cycles of soul-searching, we deemed ourselves ready to produce a full-length album. We sold our Dodge Dart, purchased sturdy walking shoes, and took only public transit in order to develop rigorous objectivity vis-a-vis our subject matter. A period of intensive study ensued.

We positioned ourselves near the entrances of major garage structures in the core of the city to observe the tonal differences between midweek and weekend parking. We compared the tempos of residential versus commercial parking, as well as the modal distinction between those who parked within twenty feet of their destination versus those who parked in order to walk towards a controlled, enclosed area, usually a faux downtown or pedestrian market place. These two populations, as it turned out, were separated culturally and socioeconomically by a chromatic half step. The seductive dissonance of songs-at-war, it seemed, had not been lost on certain city architects.

We rode the elevators to roof level, where prime parking spots and a cross-hatched walk zone led to scenic aerial dining. …

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