Tuesday, 23 November 2010

'sonata for clarinet & nodar'

Jez riley French (field recording / composition)

Joana Silva (clarinet)

Luis Costa (field recording)

egcd035 / nodar002

(a joint release between engraved glass & edições nodar)

in the last days of my residency at binaural (Nodar, Portugal) an idea came from a series of chance occurrences. Luis spotted Joana in the village & knew she was a clarinet player & that she had come from Lisbon to visit family for the summer. In the days before, myself & Luis had talked about recordings of instruments & singers in the natural environment - the roots of field recording. A decision was made to ask Joana if she would be willing to play her clarinet whilst walking slowly along a path that swept around the curve in the Paiva river that runs through Nodar. Joana, still at school, still learning the instrument, agreed & a day was arranged.

I think it's fair to say that what took place was truly a unique moment. This was not a 'perfect' realisation of a score that had been rehearsed. This was not a seasoned performer with a vast experience of contemporary composition playing a piece they knew well. Instead what was captured was a young player truly exploring the idea for the piece. There was no detailed instruction to her in regards to overall duration or the space between the played sections. This, therefore, is a composition of a moment.

Of course, the very nature of field recording & one of it's charms, is that it is a gesture to capture an unpredictable environment. Given the rural nature of Nodar village some aspects of everyday village life were bound to make an appearance. It was another chance occurrence that at the time we were recording someone decided it was time to trim the overgrowth on their plot of land with one of the loudest machines invented for the purpose. As this sound went on & on my thoughts went from frustration to resignation - we were, after all, capturing an aspect of life as it was happening. In composing the final piece it would have been possible to leave this intervention of modern rural reality out. However doing so would have also removed a memorable part of the experience.

It is the emotive capture of this day, this moment that motivated the composition drawn from the recordings made that day & the decision to create this release.

my thanks to Joana for her openess, exploration & dedication to the essential qualities of the music (both performed & environmental) & to Luis & all at Binaural for their hospitality & commitment.

price + postage options

. eg.p06 - available now

Julia Holter - 'celebration'

Bars in Afternoons

recorded in Paris, France, December 2008

and Los Angeles, CA 2009

La Celebración

recorded in Los Angeles, CA April 2010

and Orange County, CA July 2010

Harmony 17 (edit)

recorded at Union Station

Los Angeles, CA August 2009

(realisation of Michael Pisaro’s score originally available as a download from compost & height)

price + postage options

Cindytalk - 'The poetry of decay'
editions mego
2 x LP + 7 inch

(click here to go to the label website page for this release)

it's rare that laptop based music interests me. There is something cold & precise about it that leaves me feeling disconnected & doubtful of the emotions & impulses behind it. Some aspect of what 'music' means, how it has been a constant in my life seems to be missing. Perhaps this is a sign of my inability to engage with a modern form & yet I do use a laptop myself in editing & enjoy exploring electronics with various extended microphone methods. No, it's not that I can't or won't engage - for me it's something to do with the way much of the music is 'clean'.

It's also rare that I find processed field recordings to be pleasing.

So, when Cindytalk emerged anew, refreshed with 2 cd's of dense laptop based electronic sand storms, featuring processed field recordings as a significant element, it could have been a difficult job for me to feel much more than a respect for & admiration of the creative voice at work - that of Gordon Sharp. Instead something about the way Gordon had carefully crafted these works spoke not of clinical precision but of an artist pulling the music from a new instrument, trying to find a way to be as emotional and as intuitive in the digital realm as they had been throughout their involvement in music.

Those 2 cd's, released on Editions Mego are 'the crackle of my soul' & 'up here in the clouds' & well worth getting of course. However those recordings have now been issued in a deluxe double vinyl version along with a 7 inch single featuring two additional tracks & to put it simply the result is a work of art. Holding this heavy object, still shrink wrapped, one feels the weight of the artistic vision that created it. From the image on the outer sleeve to the actual act of putting the whole thing into production.

The music sounds even better on vinyl than on the cd - partly perhaps because the nature of vinyl gives the music an even greater link to the analogue warmth of the hands on nature of music created by someone not merely pressing keys but pushing hard against ones limits.

I used the term 'sand storm' earlier in this review & for me those words sum up what this music sounds like. That's not to say its blasting or hard to endure but rather it has a quality of music eroded, sand blasted & left cleansed. The compositional arcs are seamless in the way they arch through the music - taking the listener on a challenging, rewarding trek through their sonic landscapes.

I strongly suggest you explore this music, either on cd or in the vinyl edition - even download if that's the format you prefer but what I will say is that getting hold of the vinyl edition gives you something more than just the music. I'm old enough to have been brought up on the vinyl LP & yes, I still prefer to have something to hold when I get music - a cd cover at least & this release serves as proof if proof was needed of the art that it takes to create music that is not just the sound but the whole process - from the idea to the struggle to bring it to fruition to the bravery of the artist to make it public & the bravery of the label to not merely release it but to invest time & money in crafting the finished work of art.

The double LP & 7-inch set is limited to 500 copies. The time is long overdue that instead of an art world playing around with the concept of 'sound art' whilst having an unquestionable neglect & disrespect for creative music, the value & position of such an edition should be appreciated. If 'The poetry of decay' were a limited edition print by Hockney or some other such visual artist it would cost a great deal to buy & adorn the walls of galleries the world over. Make no mistake, in terms of audio art this music is at the top of its own creative ladder & this is a chance for us all to own it, to hang it on our audible walls & for a cost that shows how committed the artistic music community is to the original ethos behind all art, namely art that is available to the many & not just the few whose wealth often robs them of an understanding of the emotions & inspirations that built the work in the first place.

26 euros from the Editions Mego website - christ, you'd pay more than that for a mass produced print of an old film poster !

thanks to Gordon for taking this journey & to Peter at Editions Mego for his courage in releasing this.