Scott Sherk | ALENTEJO
"The Alentejo of Portugal is a sparsely populated area of gentle savannah with cork oak and ancient olive trees. It has been inhabited since Metholithic times, and is rich in prehistoric stone sites. Sitting quietly beneath an oak tree one imagines that not much has changed over time.
We were lucky to be residents of The Obras Foundation. It is a special place beautifully situated on a hillside overlooking pastures, tangled gorges, orchards, and a distant castle. There is little sound—except the wind. It is a place to clear your head and regain the ability to listen to the world around, as well as the landscape within.
I walked through the dry, dusty fields, mesmerized by their stillness, except for the wind. When the wind came, it swept across the fields in waves that the dry grass made visible. I was excited by the tangible experience of the space around me. I could see it, feel it and hear it.
As I was making recordings, Pat Badt was painting notes of color. Taken by the intensity of the light and the endless sky, she painted many, many paper sketches of color and form.
We also visited the castle that we could see in the far distance. It was the Castle of Evoramonte. Made of thick stone walls with high vaulted ceilings it is a remarkable place. The windows look out onto the surrounding panorama sky and land. The interior volumes are filled with sound. It seemed a perfect place to plan an installation.
When we returned to our home studios in the US, we compared notes and developed an idea to collaborate on an installation of sound and color. We returned to the Obras Foundation this past summer and installed our piece Cor + Som (Color + Sound) in the Castle of Evoramonte. Using colored gels and 5.1 surround sound we filled the cavernous stone spaces with sound and color. These works are a result of this project."
— Scott Sherk
Michael Trommer | BERLIN ANAMNETIC
"Berlin Anamnetic is the outcome of a two-month residency at Berlin’s ZK/U (Centre for Art and Urbanistics). It seeks to integrate the ‘real’ acoustic soundscape with the embodied, imagined soundtrack evoked by a particular time and place.
The working process for this series involved long walks, generally from the outlying regions of Berlin to the city centre; these were documented via audio recordings, photos, and notes. Particular attention was placed on locations of emotional resonance, whether the source of this resonance was historical, personal or serendipitous. The associated sound files were then subjected to extensive spectral processing, melding the mnemonic soundtrack (usually overheard pop songs or earworms) with the real (diegetic) soundtrack. As such, sounds were structured in a quasi-painterly fashion rather than arranged in a more conventional linear time-line (i.e. in a DAW such as Ableton, etc.). Correspondingly, the pieces that comprise ‘Berlin Anamnetic’ also seek to adopt a narrative form that is textural and emotive, eschewing typical narrative structure for something that is more akin to the body’s ‘real’ movement through a landscape."
— Michael Trommer
David Evans | TRANSITIONS
"Drawing from the traditions of musique concrete and late 20th century sound art, David Evans’ new album Transitions is a hypnotic collection of primarily textural work constructed entirely from field recordings. The source for these recordings is the constructed environment and sonically the raw materials would seem to be a reflection of our immediate industrialised past rather than the digital minutiae of the present (and future). Where Transitions excels as a compositional body of work, however, is that these blocks of texture are crafted in such a way that the overall experience feels warmly organic.
As a composer and in the context of this work, producer, Evans has chosen to focus each individual track of Transitions to just a small handful of individual source recordings. These recordings are the instrumentation for Transitions and as such the overall aesthetic of the work is intimate and immediate. This intimacy, and the ambiguity of the field recordings, builds a relationship between author and audience whereby the listener inevitably constructs their own imagined sound world. Here perception is reality, as Evans doesn’t try to impose upon us any meta-narrative through the use of descriptive song titles or a didactic title for the work itself. The pulses and musical waves of Transitions will be heard differently by every person that takes the time to sit down and immerse themselves in this work.
Ultimately Transitions is a finely crafted piece of contemporary acousmatic composition and production. It allows us to contemplate the constructed environment while asking us to look beyond the steel and concrete to find beauty, subtlety and perhaps even humanity beneath an often brutal facade."
— Owen McKern
Mark Vernon | THINGS THAT WERE MISSED...
"Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm is a single 54-minute suite of music and sound, created from field recordings fetched by Mark Vernon on his travels in Sri Lanka.
Through his methods, Vernon creates swooping, eerie and powerful music — music which forms itself out of natural sounds, then changes itself back again, all in a seamless and entirely appropriate manner. The effect on the listener is like watching a documentary film of Sri Lanka which suddenly changes, for example shifting into negative or over-exposed stock, multiple exposures, unusual lens filters, focus settings...disrupting the sense of temporal continuity we've enjoyed thus far, and demanding that we now appreciate this experience as pure sound. But it also passes on a very dream-like effect. It's as though Vernon himself were hallucinating about Sri Lanka, and passing his strange visions into the sound. Hardly five minutes of Clamour for Calm passes by without one of these uncanny time-shifts taking over, transporting us into a bizarre, slightly menacing, impression, an impression of a country (or an entire world) that never existed.
The title of this work, Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm, may of course lead the listener to expect something quite different — it implies that there are everyday sound events which we overlook all too easily, and that there's an interest in escaping the noise pollution of urban life, perhaps through listening to natural sounds with more attention. Both of these are perfectly plausible sentiments, and indeed they constitute articles of faith for many field recordists. But I think this album is primarily a work of imagination, a testament to Mark Vernon's creative strengths and abilities; he doesn't just document, but he thinks long and hard about the documents he captures, and then is able to use his studio skills to refashion them sympathetically, thereby revealing new truths about the world. "
— Ed Pinsent
Martin Kay | ALL THINGS METAL
"All Things Metal is a collection of recordings I have taken over the last 5 years of various environments and sound events captured closeup to and through an array of functioning and discarded metal infrastructure and objects.
My intention for this album is to highlight the unique ability that metal possesses in abstracting, transforming and reconfiguring a given landscape — propelling the listener to reconsider their emotional and psychological connections to familiar urban environments."
— Martin Kay
Kate Carr | OVERHEARD IN DOI SAKET
"For a collection of field recordings to be effective in its aims, we need a sense of casually listening in on a sonic landscape, rather than a feeling of naked voyeurism. Belfast-via-Australia sound artist Kate Carr has earned a reputation in recent years for opening doors into said realms, offering glimpses of rough-hewn terrain and glacial paradise alike. With this latest set of pieces, Carr has given us perhaps her most colorful, vivid and strikingly melodic work yet, a bursting world of sound stitched together in a fine-knit tapestry, woven out of recordings made on a trip to Thailand. Free of any trace of exotic fetishizing, this is true audio tourism raised to an immersive art form, moving from the hum of night creatures to the far-off whir of broadcasted music to birdsong to natural swells with the seams not hard to glimpse but absolutely invisible. There's an aura of a homecoming here — Carr does not sound like an outsider in this environment. Rather, it feels like she's always been here at the margins, haunting the corners, microphone aimed into space and water alike, capturing impressions of a shifting, ghostly panorama."
— Zachary Corsa
John Kannenberg | A SOUND MAP OF THE ART INST. OF CHICAGO
"For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by museums — not just as places of looking and learning, but also of listening. To me, the soundscape of a museum resonates with the active sounds of history, the nexus between a museum’s contemporary sonic world and the historical objects housed within it. In my view, these sounds exist in the realms between documentary and drama, awe and aura.
This is the second installment of an ongoing series of psychogeographic sound maps of museums. Several hours of source recordings chronicling my interactions with and observations of every public space in the museum were secretly captured during the spring and summer of 2013, using only the built-in microphones of an Olympus LS-10 portable digital recorder. These sounds were then edited down to a highly composed, but unprocessed, hour-long impossible journey through the Art Institute of Chicago’s original building and its 2009 Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing addition."
— John Kannenberg
Tristan Louth-Robins | THE PATH DESCRIBED
"There is an otherworldly quality to the field recordings of Tristan Louth-Robins, which is, of course, entirely the wrong word. They are intrinsically of this world. Within them we may distinguish a familiar birdsong or aural backdrop, the usual but usually unregarded mutterings of the world as it is —
a messy, frontier place full of strange cohabitants, marked by vibrant incongruences. And, yet, something not quite of this world pertains. Nostalgia — a remembrance of things past — is an important emotion for Louth-Robins, and it may be this that infuses these recordings with an essence that takes the listener beyond the quotidian. There is no mistaking Louth-Robins’ affinity with the places he documents, shaped by ineradicable personal connections with the landscapes of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. If these recordings take us back to the natural world, to the coastlines and cliffs and epic ranges and waterways for which the region is noted, then they also transport us back in time. They open a window not only onto a realm rich with human activity thousands of years before the name of a Frenchman was assigned to it, but also onto the story of an individual and how he first heard the world around him."
— Ben Brooker
Stephen Cornford | MUSIC FOR EARBUDS
"Music for Earbuds is composed entirely from headphone feedback which makes some surprisingly organic (as well as electronic) sounds, Stephen Cornford writes to introduce his new CD. A collection of sounds stark and stubborn, as a listener you hit against their form, slide on their surfaces. These sounds so alien yet alluring call you to spend time with them, attend to them. They mark the edges of hearing and understanding. The edge here is the ear that hears as listening encounters nothing but itself. There is no key into or out of these sounds, only the endless play of their fabrications. In a blog entry, Stephen quotes: 'Put in a nutshell, the real question is: how can we control and humanise an already uncontrollable and dehumanising technology, when the value foundation for that attempted humanisation is rapidly disintegrating. (Source unknown).' The circularity of these sounds bounces the responsibility of listening back onto you: their tones, sharp or rounded, puncture your understanding with their presence. Set against a deep void, in their exaggerated detachment they mock the easy, dangerous assumption that a recording is true: as incantations these frequencies return and turn and generate new meanings in themselves, different every time, true every time."
— Daniela P. Cascella
MUfi.re | THESE WALLS RESEMBLE ABSENCE
"The sounds of These Walls Resemble Absence were recorded by Rui Almeida in an abandoned factory (located in northern Portugal), a complex of pavilions that are now in a deep state of degradation. In a recording process based on intuition and instinct, firstly, we can imagine objects being handled, picked and dragged but, at some point, the atmosphere feels strangely natural, as if wind and randomness, a sort of harmony in chaos is playing, or rising from latency. Objects do seem to have a voice, while being stimulated, forming a multitude of sound syllables such, that while the process endures, we can think of a redefinition of these objects and space, in a very particular interpretation, much different than what a factory imagery could suggest. A body of sound that feels large, spacious, minimalistic but complex, where you can breathe and still become aware of the tiniest detail and texture. We can wonder about what is and what is not incidental or just let ourselves be immersed in this new/old space."
— Nuno Miranda Ribeiro
Bjarni Gunnarsson | PROCESSES & POTENTIALS
"So much music claims to capture the moment. But as Processes & Potentials proves, in-the-momentness can be a malleable concept. The result of three years of studio work, the album sees Bjarni Gunnarsson following his longstanding interest in exploring liquid states, transformational activities and the complex relationships between cause and effect. It is music which behaves differently, unexpectedly, veering off into surprising directions and never staying in one place for too long – it is certainly no coincidence that one of the pieces here is called "Momentaries". The reason for this fluid, intuitive development is Gunnarson's conviction that it is infinitely more exciting to follow and shape the path of his materials as it is unfolding rather than mapping out the trajectory in full from the outset: "One should not constantly think of a final result while creating", as he puts it, "Rather, it is important to engage in the process and its becoming."
Processes & Potentials is, undoubtedly, an uncompromising work in its austere sonic design, crackling rhythmical pulses dancing on top of monochrome tectonics and convoluting sounds. But at the same time, it is one of the few sound art releases that gets the adrenalin pumping as well, with each of these six piece seamlessly passing through a variety of concise scenes, ranging from the pastoral and serene to the delirious and confronting. Applying layman's psychology, it would be easy to explain this approach by Gunnarsson's curiosity and wandering spirit, by his moves from Iceland to Paris, Berlin and The Hague. More to the point, however, he never ceases to be fascinated by the undiscovered potentials of creativity and what it is, exactly, that defines the resulting sound processes. It may lead some listeners outside their comfort zone for the album's 47 minutes. But then again, it makes each single moment contained within them feel a lot more precious. "
— Tobias Fischer
Camilla Hannan | STRANGELANDS
"Camilla Hannan's Strangelands has been created from her exploration of four very specific locations, and the audio recordings she captured in-situ. As we all know Eric's house is in far North Coburg and Strangelands is of course a suburb of Brisbane. Each of these locations are islands only accessible by ferry, and as evidenced by the resulting compositions presented here, they are all surrounded by large industrial complexes.
The only problem with any of this is that these four locations do not actually exist. So, does this album act as a form of crypto-sonic documentation? Or perhaps I should more simply describe it as playful act of audio falsification? How should I know and what does it really matter anyway? While listening to this album, if I close my eyes I find myself in one place, and when I open them again I am somewhere else. Sonic objects appear and disappear, flitting in and out of my peripheral audition. Small exquisite details of factory noise blend with the distant sound of murky nocturnal suburban habitation and the scurryings of the mutant creature created by this co-mingling. My sense of perspective is all muddled and I can longer tell if something is up way too close or forever lost in the distance. How the hell did I get onto this boat? Why is the Metro flooded? And how did all those seagulls and insects get in here?
I won't claim to know what this work is trying to tell me, but it is indeed speaking to me. However it has definitely revealed one thing. No matter where you search or how hard you look, Strangelands will still be located inside your ears."
— Eamon Sprod
Ralph Koper | ANCIENT PULSATIONS
"These field recordings made in Varanasi presents authentic and vital life of the Indian people. This is a world where things around us are not infinitely secularized and separated, controlled and restricted but a world where each one is One. Gods and people, animals and objects appear to be in harmony with each other and flowing in a timeless order. For the Western ear, Ralph Koper's recordings open a new sound world which is colorful and exciting, beautiful and ancient.
Extace from the ghats and Ganges of Benares, a scientific care essay written by the artist completes the journey through the Ancient Pulsations a real experience."
— Ákos Garai
Mathieu Ruhlmann | THIS STAR TEACHES BENDING
"In 2012, my mother at the age of 63 was diagnosed with a rare terminal lung disease. She was given a six-month life expectancy at this time. These recordings were created over the same period of time, comprised of amplifying the human body, various medical equipment and devices, as well as location recordings, that were involved, related to, or used during her treatment.
The title "This Star Teaches Bending" refers to a painting on paper by the artist Paul Klee that he completed in the year of his death. Klee lived the last few years of his life in Bern, plagued by scleroderma, a rare skin disease. Although he never recovered from this illness, he always maintained his love of life, facing his suffering with a trenchant ‘so what?’ But by 1940 he had to accept that there was no hope of a cure or any improvement in his health. The star had taught him to bend to the blows of fate.
The track titles refer to titles of paintings that Klee created in 1939-1940, the last year of his life. These recordings are dedicated to Valerie Joy."
— Mathieu Ruhlmann
Jay-Dea López | THE GREAT SILENCE
"In The Great Silence, Australian sound artist, Jay-Dea López, has created an Australian soundscape anchored in the present but very much of the past. It’s the type of composition at which López excels.
This forty-minute piece is a mix of Australian nocturnal natural sounds layered with modified field recordings. By recording only native nocturnal species in local forests late at night López has carefully avoided any man-made influence, introduced species or modern day noise pollution, and created what seems like a timeless soundscape. It could well be the same soundscape that existed long before Australia was colonised.
Sound does not exist in a vacuum, actually or metaphorically and that is especially true when imagining the lost sounds of the past. Jay-Dea López is not only in tune with the lost sounds of Australia but also with the cultural echoes associated with those sounds, sounds so unfamiliar to the first colonisers that they assigned them to the margins. 'The Great Silence’ was a term formulated to describe the way in which these early colonisers heard the Australian soundscape but when ‘silence’ was equated with ‘empty’ it became a justification to expand into aboriginal land and the whole cultural landscape changed.
In ‘The Great Silence’ Jay-Dea López captures both the timeless natural sounds of Australia and their resounding cultural echoes in a characteristically sensitive and engaging way."
— Des Coulam