Records by 1/3 Octave Band
"...the soundtrack to a migraine" A small interview with Bill Wood by Anders Gjerde.
"When I was very young, the old wooden telephone poles used to hum. If you put your ear against the pole the hum was more of a multi-layered "drone" with a myriad of different tones, all interacting with one another. I used to imagine I was hearing all the telephone conversations in the world, all at once. I still don't know what caused this, as it used to occur on calm days as much as on windy days. A lot of the 1/3 Octave Band work has simply been my trying to imitate that telephone pole sound!".
Later Bill would get an electric guitar that he got to hook it up through his grandfather's old valve tape recorder, making "all sorts of cool noises on it that I can't describe! I never realised that anyone other than I was interested in these noises though, so I set about learning how to play guitar in the "correct" manner."
Then there was the Dead C. "I had no idea what those guys were doing and it looked as though they didn't either - wandering back and forth aimlessly, banging on this and strumming on that - but the SOUND they produced was awesome! Kinda lifted my head from my shoulders, but in a good way..."
"Shortly after that I saw Tony Conrad at a gallery here. Another life changing moment!"
After that, Bill became an associated member of the early Campbell Kneale's Birchville Cat Motel. He continued to play with Kneale (who has since released several 1/3 Octave Band albums on his own Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label), but at the same time began recording extensively his own material on a borrowed 4-track tape machine.
To date, 1/3 Octave Band has released 10-15 albums, vinyl singles and EPs on labels like the above-mentioned C/psi/P, Freedom From, Pseudoarcana, Fusetron, Denshi Zatsuon and Humbug.
The 1/3 Octave Band sound has imaginatively been described as "String driven shiver floating in a lake of orchestral sheen. Hyper-kinetic drones fashioned from the slow moving gracefulness of supersonic spacejunk. Aimless grandeur."
Or, according to Mrs. Bill Wood, "the soundtrack to a migraine".
Says Bill, "One of the many attractions for this style of music(?) is that it bypasses the whole construct that we tend to place on things-that of unnatural organisation - the whole intro/verse/chorus type of template that can often get in the way of the creative process. The other, main attraction for me is that I see my role as someone who just sets up conditions for various processes to occur - atmospheric, electromagnetic, etc, so that the everyday phenomena of feedback, interference effects, difference tones etc can occur more-or-less under their own. I therefore become just an observer and recorder of the events that take place. I try to record these as often as possible - the likelihood of such events repeating themselves is next to zero."
A couple of years ago Bill teamed teamed up with Jules Desmond. "It wasn't initially a permanent arrangement - more a meeting of like minds. However, Jules has become pretty indispensable to the 1/3 Octave sound. He seems able to get a sound out of anything - to paraphrase John Lennon: He's an artist - give him a tuba, he'll get someting out of it! As Jules puts it: "...seeing a docu on Len Lye when i was a teenage metalhead as being totally life-changing and ultimately leading me down the noise path..."
The three albums released on Humbug "SubLumina", "Icarus" and "I Will Pass By Here" (we think of them as an imagined 'trilogy') has seen the Wood/Desmond collaboration come full circle: "We tend to develop our ideas individually then get together and combine them. It's always surprising how well our different ideas work together."