Tuesday, 1 April 2008

'Septet' (meenna-333cd) - click here for link to MP3 extracts

Let me get my personal view of this release out of the way first - I like it !

The history of the use of 'space' (defined in this context as sections of a performance that contain no conventional music) within non-classical music has largely been about dramatic pauses or compositional effects. In more recent years there has been an increased use of said space as an equal part of musical structure or in 'sound art'.

This release is perhaps the most extreme example of space as structure in performance yet documented. There are very, very few sounds coming from the six artists listed (all of whom are well established in thier own right) & those that do emerge are often more to do with thier movements rather than the effect they have on thier instruments.

Takefumi Naoshima: mixing board
Hirozumi Takeda: guitar
Utah Kawasaki: guitar
Mitsuteru Takeuchi: flute
Toshihiro Koike: trombone
Takahiro Kawaguchi: remodeled counters
Yasuo Totsuka: compressor

My own experience of using space during improvisation or intuitive composition has been influenced by my enjoyment of making field recordings, in so much as when there are periods of 'no music' I have always been aware of the sound of the venue or surroundings then filling that space. In fact, by & large, that has been a large part of my reason for having that space as part of what I do.

I dare say there are as many different thoughts about this release as there are listeners. I've heard people discuss it as an example of conceptual sound art & i've heard others describe it as a new form of music. For me I have to say that when I listen to this recording I do simply that - just listen, let the sound, the music tell me about itself (jesus ! that sounded a bit new age !).

If you order this disc direct from IMJ you also get the bonus disc of the Septet's live performance at Mitaka city arts centre & this adds massively to the enjoyment of both discs. One can hear the difference in the ambient sounds of the two locations (the main disc is a studio improvisation) & for me at least this aspect is really interesting.

I was tempted to contact some of the members of this septet and ask them questions such as:
'has the experience of playing often very quiet improvisation led to being more aware of the sound of the performance area & does this recording represent aspects of that in some way ?'

& then I got a grip & remembered that these artists have said what they want to say already by releasing this work + that, even though i've started this blog to write about music / sound, it is of course just as important (more so if you ask me !) to not seek explanations or ask questions.

That said, I did want to include this release here in order to highlight the fact that the term 'field recording' shouldn't be defined too strictly by certain people. I know there are many who regard it as 'the capture of natural sound' & actually mean the sound of nature. Well, regardless of whether it is what motivated the members of this septet, on this release we do hear the natural sound of artists and thier movements and indeed some elements of environmental sound too.

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