Composers Matt Rankin and Vanessa Nimmo are harvesting old technology to create new sounds.

“The rotary dial telephone. I think everybody over a certain age remembers what that sounds like, when you spin it round,” Matt Rankin tells me. “It’s got that little mechanism that makes that grungy noise when it rolls back to the initial position. There’s an incredible amount of detail in that sound, when you begin to compress it and slow it down.”

The telephone is just one of the pieces of old technology the composer is using to create new music. Rankin and his collaborator, composer Vanessa Nimmo, are currently in residency at the Artsboxin the Melbourne suburb Footscray, developing their award-winning project Old Tech New Decks– which turns the sounds of obsolete technologies into immersive soundscapes – into an album. The project began early last year and Nimmo and Rankin have since performed Old Tech New Decksat the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2015 (where it won Best Music) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2016.

Matt Rankin performing Old Tech New Decksat the Adelaide Fringe Festival, photo © Amelia Ditcham