Saturday, 17 January 2009

new release: David Dunn / Patrick Farmer / Sarah Hughes

compost and height : ch006

David Dunn Patrick Farmer & Sarah Hughes

David Dunn: Western Harvester Ants
Unprocessed field recording.

Patrick Farmer & Sarah Hughes: Is
Unprocessed field recording.

David Dunn:
"David Dunn is at once an ecologist, a philosopher, a member of the 'new science', a performer, an integrator of human values with technological ones, and an artist… But simply said: David is a composer; ---to be sure a composer of 'music', and the 'musical'. But more significantly, David is a composer as in 'making', 'searching', `exploring', 'finding', 'synthesizing', 'questioning'. Yes, endless questioning. He strives, (as certain others do), to not box things in; to not assume that so-called "areas", "disciplines", (e.g., as between music and linguistics), can be bounded as-if they signify mutually-exclusive domains. Contrarily, his works, thinkings, makings, et alia, exhibit diverse formations of 'wholeness', and beauty, thereby penetrating certain current theories of complexity. Above all, (at least in the cognitive domain, ---but also quite perceivable elsewhere---) his work, (his life?), has to do with the implicit connectedness of matter." Kenneth Gaburo

Western Harvester Ants: Two forms of sound making have been well documented in ants:drumming against substratum and stridulation using specialised organs adapted for this purpose. The resultant sounds appear to serve four particular functions: alarm, recruitment, termination of mating by females, and modulation of other communication (usually chemical) and forms of behaviour. Ants stridulate with the hindmost body section, the gaster, which sports a ridged patch that rubs against a neighbouring file-like edge. When the gaster is raised and lowered, it produces a stridulatory chirp from the scraping action.

Patrick Farmer & Sarah Hughes:
Is: Black-headed Gulls and Mallards. Under and above water environments. A transition/transitory area between two adjacent ecological communities. Ecotone.

A contact mic/hydrophone recording made on a frozen lake in Oakmere Park, Potters Bar, on 31.12.08. at 8:30 am

Patrick Farmer:

Sarah Hughes:

new release: Andrea Polli - 'Sonic Antarctica'

Sonic Antarctica Andrea Polli


'Sonic Antarctica' features natural and industrial field recordings, sonifications and audifications of science data and interviews with weather and climate scientists. The areas recorded include: the „Dry Valleys“ (77°30′S 163°00′E) on the shore of McMurdo Sound, 3,500 km due south of New Zealand, the driest and largest relatively ice-free area on the continent completely devoid of terrestrial vegetation. Another is the geographic South Pole (90°00′S), the center of a featureless flat white expance, on top of ice nearly nine miles thick.

The 'Sonic Antarctica' Project is a radio broadcast, live performance as well as a sound and visual installation. It features recordings of the Antarctic soundscape made during Andrea Polli’s seven-week National Science Foundation residency in Antarctica during the 2007/2008 season.

Polli recently spent seven weeks in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation funded project The investigation of storms as wel as of the heat and the heartbeat of New York has been among her earlier projects. For this and related work, she has been recognized by the UNESCO Digital Arts Award 2003.

The Antarctic is unlike any other place on earth: geographically, politically and culturally. Larger than the US, it is a frontier where borders and nationalities take a back seat to scientific collaboration and cooperation, a place where the compass becomes meaningless, yet, navigation is a matter of life and death. It is an extreme environment that holds some of the most unique species. But it is also an ecosystem undergoing rapid change. 2007/2008 marks the fourth International Polar Year (IPY), the largest and most ambitious international effort to investigate the impact of the poles on the global environment.

10 Tracks (69min 05sec), (500 copies), Audio CD (Digipack)

a full review will be posted as soon as i've given this one a good few listens !

Friday, 2 January 2009

three new releases on prele records

Various – ‘revenant: topolo’ (prl005)
Frederic Nogray – ‘Nelki’ (prl004)
Eric Cordier & Denis Tricot – ‘Orgue de bois’ (prl003)

For those readers new to this blog or to me in general should know that if I don’t like a disc I don’t bother writing about it – life’s too short & I prefer to give space to the things I like or feel have something to offer, so this quartet of mini-reviews kicks off with a trio of worthy releases on the Prele records label that arrived through my door late last year. After a decent amount of listening to each I feel able to offer a few words of support for all, each focusing on very different areas of creative music / sound but all three having a united sense of clarity and artistic vigour.

The ‘topolo’ cd concentrates on what the sleeve describes as ‘activated environments’. As many of you will be well aware the concept of performing acoustically using only materials found in-situ is a well established element of both improvised music & the approach of many artists working with ‘field recording’ methods. To interact with natural or manmade structures is not, as a few of the dumber whale song collectors will have you believe, a betrayal of the act of sound gathering. It is simply a way to interact with ones surroundings which has at its heart a respect for and understanding of the environment at hand.

The pieces captured on ‘topolo’ feature Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich, Hitoshi Kojo, Patrick Mcginley & Olivier Feraud & were recorded in an Italian forest close to the Slovenian border. Here we find obvious elements such as leaves, branches & whole trees sounding, well like one would expect. However with experienced artists like this around you’ll also encounter some sounds that will have you scratching your head wondering what the hell they had their hands on at the time. The first track uses bows on tree bark I believe but the result actaully reminds me of techniques using various pieces of grass as rudimentary reeds - a long standing traditional form of communication between hill farmers in the valleys of France & Northern Spain – there was a fine disc of grass calls on Silex many years ago & that’s well worth tracking down if you can find it! The last track includes the use of harmonicas too & for me it's the one track I tend to skip - but don't let that put you off.
further info & mp3 extract can be found by clicking here

When it comes to the humble singing bowl, it is now so widely used in improvised music that it’s almost a cliché, especially in clumsy hands (isn’t everything ?). However Frederic Nogray’s cd features only the sound of the large crystal bowls. Patrick Farmer has one of these & used it to great effect during the quartet we performed at Cafe Oto last year. They are big white glass bowls that emit (forgive the pun) crystal clear tones of varying intensity depending on the rate at which said bowl is sounded by means of the player rubbing a special mallet like object around the rim of the bowl. Now, to create music made only with these instruments without it ending up sounding anything like those god awful new age / music for massage cd’s is damn hard. It takes a keen sense of composition and timing. Frederic has both & has created a 51 minute listening experience that offers the listener both a sense of calm and of musical depth. I dare say the difference between this kind of music & the dull new age singing bowl approach is actually a thin knife edge for the performer – something so small & yet a million miles apart in the result. It is this difference which is the reason you should get hold of this cd if you appreciate contemporary improvisation or composition. If you’re more into incense & wheat grass enemas then look elsewhere.
further info & mp3 extract can be found by clicking here

Last of the three prele releases is the cd by Eric Cordier & Denis Tricot. ‘Orgue de bois’ (wooden organ) is the name the duo gives to their huge public objects – both musical instrument & site specific sculpture. Over the past 4 years they’ve created 30 of these structures, all around 30 metres long & consisting of wooden slats linked together to form elongated wave like shapes. The three tracks on this release capture elements of the performances the duo give once the structures are installed. The process of building these objects draws on principals of instrument design and manufacture so that when ‘played’ various vibrations and resonances emerge. The booklet contains photographs of the structures & also the duo in action during performances, however I strongly recommend listening to the disc first without looking at the booklet – I think, unless one is able to witness the experience firsthand, it helps one find the ‘music’ of these instruments if there are no visual references as to the methods employed to play them. So that’s three new releases on prele records & three worth tracking down!
further info & mp3 extract can be found by clicking here