The title ‘HTO’ is a reference to the chemical composition of water, as well as to Toronto’s nickname of ‘T.O.’.
The pieces on this album are composed of field recordings sourced from the city’s urban waterfront, buried rivers and vanished shorelines.
The majority of urban Toronto rests on the bed of what was once Lake Iroquois - a large glacial lake that has become what is now Lake Ontario. Many rivers still run through the urban core, but have been buried in order to aid urban development; ventilation shafts, the remains of bridges and evidence of ancient portage trails still dot the city’s landscape, serving as reminders of our geographical history.
Much of Toronto’s present-day waterfront is landfill and extends almost 1km from the originals.
horeline; it is characterized by rapid urban development (at this time, the city has more high-rises under construction than any other city in North America, many of these being built along the lakefront), and the once extensive railway corridor - now shrinking to make room for large-scale condominium developments. Offshore from the downtown core, one finds Toronto Island, now mostly parkland, but dominated (both geographically and acoustically) on the western side by City Centre Airport. Further out is the Leslie Spit, an large (5km), man-made peninsular extension of the shoreline comprised of urban rubble and material excavated during the creation of the Toronto subway system. Though it is now a parkland, its shores are still being expanded and one can find all manner of urban detritus there, including the remains of demolished office towers and factories.
The pieces that comprise ‘HTO’ are meant as a sonic exploration of Toronto’s water-related history. Many locations were revisited many times over the course of the last few years with a view to examining seasonal variations and the effects of urban expansion upon the soundscape. A particular focus has become the use of man-made resonant objects/spaces as well as the exploitation of the effect of the landscape - particularly open water and parkland - to emphasize their natural filtering effects upon the sound.
Audio was recorded using a variety of techniques and equipment, including contact, hydrophone, binaural, induction, and boundary microphones; extensive use of layering has been made in order to examine the sonic variations inherent in both the locations themselves as well as the contrasting recording techniques.
In some cases, the pieces were arranged ‘live’ in the locations where the field recordings were made - a direct response to the visual and acoustic environment.