fugitive frequency, season 4 episode 6: Good Morning Geylang

A view of a carpark entrance through a silhouette of palm fronds. The leaves of the fronds match with the hazard stripes painted onto the speed hump and the strong parallel lines of the image made by the railings and gate,

“Good Morning Geylang”, a deep listening dawn mix and a meditation on migration, labour, infrastructure and place-making in Singapore. Made in residence at Singapore Art Museum, 1 April–29 June 2024.

The field recordings that make up this mix were recorded in the streets, rooftops and void decks around the neighbourhood where I am staying in Geylang. Singapore is undoubtably an air-conditioned nation however I’m not a fan of such climate controls. I prefer to keep the windows open and as my apartment is on the 4th floor of an old shophouse, I am at tree height. I’m often stirred before dawn by the sounds of birds chattering. Soon after I hear the first MRT commuter train rumbling off in the distance and as the city starts to wake it is often the sound of a garbage truck and its distinct pungent scent that brings me to my senses. I’m in an area where many migrant workers also stay and in the mornings I can watch them gathering in the street below, waiting to be taken in trucks to work sites around the city. I’ve been struck by the interplay of daily rhythms at this time of day. With reference to Henri Lefebvre’s notion of rhythmanalysis, I can discern  the circardian rhythms as night turns into day, the institutional rhythms of the train schedule and the rhythms of the working day. Singapore imports much of its construction and domestic workers from neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Their wages are lower than locals and they have few rights. There has been some discussion about constructions workers who are transported around in lorries with minimal safety, an exception to Singapore’s road rules, and there have been several serious accidents.

“Good Morning Geylang” is the first iteration of a live sound work I am developing. Comprised of field recordings I’m making in Singapore as a reflection on migrant labour/leisure. I’m thinking of it as a deep listening work to be performed in pitch black — picking up on a recent discussion of sensory deprivation following the debut of REFUGE at Singapore International Festival of Arts, by the Observatory in collaboration with Duck Unit, Rully Shabara and Justin Shoulder.

A list of artists I’m thinking about includes:
33EMYBW, specifically Mandala (2023)
William Basinski
Robert Curgenven
Philip Jeck
KMRU
Francisco López
Oval (early releases)
Steve Reich (early tape pieces)
David Toop
Chris Watson