1996 TOC 961 Composed by John Duncan with Max Springer.
Recorded by John Duncan at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC).
Computer sequences engineered by Max Springer and Benzine.
Design and Layout by Tom Recchion.
Mixed at AVW, San Diego.
Released by trente oiseaux.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator tunnel is a straight line of prefabricated steel structures several stories high, connected end-to-end, 2 miles (3+ kilometers) long. Inside, microwave electron drivers are set every 10 meters, each unit emitting an intense, disorienting 120Hz buzz that creates phasing effects with the other units near it, all in an enclosed straight line that stretches out to a vanishing point. These drivers propel electrons in parallel paths along the tunnel up to velocities just under the speed of light, toward a collision chamber at the far end where the paths split and the electrons are driven into each other head-on.

The collision chamber is a solid-steel cylinder roughly 20 meters thick, with a hollow center roughly the same diameter as the length of a one-bedroom apartment. The temperature of the center at the moment of collision reaches 3 billion degrees Kelvin, cooled by a liquid nitrogen cryogenic system. The chamber and several monitoring stations are mounted on a multi-story steel scaffold that was originally designed by shipbuilders to support a supertanker in drydock. This entire structure occupies the far end of a much larger prefabricated steel building, that itself is easily large enough to house several 747’s, one on top of the other.

The place is full of contradictions: structures built to dwarf and outlast their creators, designed to generate subatomic events that take place in a time scale that is experientially impossible to imagine, using forces and processes that are hostile or lethal to human life, yet are entirely human-created. A ‘city of the dead’ that seems to have an existence of its own with or without its operators.


Interview on the making of The CRACKLING