Hard Drive Sniffing

Production Year: 2022
Release: Part of Cities and Memory’s Obsolete Sounds project.
Medium: Computer hard drives and electomagnetic coils
Documentation: bandcamp, website

The original recording of an early 80's ST-251 Seagate hard disk initiates the powering up process of 6 different hard drives and the subsequent probing and exploration of their inner mechanisms and sounds. The original powering up sequence can be heard slightly manipulated at the very beginning of the piece, it is the cue for a stretched canon of hard drives spinning up to 7200 RPMs. The original recording functions as an extra disk, a phantom object treated in the digital domain, that becomes part of the hard drive instrumentarium.

Through a slow and methodical use of electromagnetic coils each hard drive is meticulously scanned, and all the different sonic elements of the object are isolated: The tones and harmonics produced by the high rotational speed, the electromagnetic micro-noises of the mechanical head, the sonic artefacts of the hard disk controller and the USB data line. The minuscule phase differences of each disk’s rotation, provide a constant droning beating, that is prominent for most of the duration of the piece, until it is finally ousted by the noisier mechanisms and sounds of the drives.