New music online at homophoni, a lovely netlabel devoted to electro-acoustic composition & improvisation.
recorded in toronto and meaford, ontario, 2011
thunderstorm at dawn, inside metal sphere
“Compositions using field recordings generally fall into two categories: those that describe a location, and those which explore environmental or social themes. However there are also compositions which enjoy experimenting with the qualities of particular sounds, where the musicality of field recordings is manipulated into an unrecognisable form through the tools available to the composer. ‘North North 18:58′ belongs to this later category. Devoid of any specific location it encourages the audience to immerse themselves in heavily distorted synthesised lines which weave their textures around a recording of a storm.
‘North North 18:58′ begins with small drops of rain recorded inside a metal sphere, followed by analog synthesisers with polyphonic drones. The tone created in ‘North North’ 18:58 is that of a work heavily dependent upon studio technology. Purists could raise some objections to this approach, yet in truth field recording is reliant upon studio intervention and technology in one form or another. Whereas some compositions attempt to disguise the technology that produces them, ‘North North 18:58′ revels in the juxtaposition of the naturally recorded elements and those from the studio. This has resulted in an emotionally intense composition which might indicate the direction that some field recordists will take in the future.
Also of interest is the collaborative aspect of this short work. Three people were involved in its creation. Joda Clément and Pau Torres worked on analog synthesisers whilst Tomasz Krakowiak worked on percussion. Their shared understanding of the abstract sounds performed in the piece has created a work which is unified and tight, with neither performer overwhelming the field recordings or each other.
The synthetic and natural elements that have contributed to this work inundate the audience with lines of sound which steadily build into a crescendo of jazz-like improvisation. Processed layers of sound rise and fall until they gradually deteriorate as if belonging to some archaic technology. Listening to these layers en masse we hear a strongly constructed wall of sound, yet there is enough space left for the audience to follow them individually as the lines fade into a hypnotic descending crackle. By the end of ‘North North 18:58′ we have been transported through a range of emotional responses, this being quite an achievement for a work which runs at just over ten minutes.
‘North North’ 18:58 is available as a free download on the Homophoni label. While popular music on major labels continues to become more homogenous and sanitised it is comforting to know that net-labels such as this are keeping experimental music alive.”
The Field Reporter
“Such a frustrating evening after a pleasant day. Not being at work I managed to avoid all mention of royalty and ridiculous associated celebrations and after sleeping in for too long I managed to knuckle down and work on the download shop framework I am working on for Cathnor. I cracked one annoying little problem I have been trying to get my head around, but as I did so I broke a vital piece of code, which I then subsequently had to delete, and so I am now in the position of having to rebuild key parts again from scratch. i was hoping to get the site finished this weekend, and while that may still happen as it shouldn’t be too hard to rewrite what I have lost its put me back a bit and caused no end of headaches. Grrr.
I have managed to listen to quite a bit of music today though, and will share some thoughts on another free download, this time a further recent release on the Homophoni net label by the trio of Joda Clément, (analogue synth and file recordings) Tomasz Krakowiak (percussion) and Pau Torres (analogue synth). The music, titled North North is a curious, if short piece, clocking in at just nineteen minutes. It isn’t easy to work out what we are listening to. The music is credited as being recorded at two sites in Ontario in 2011, but we only get the one track, so its hard to know how the piece was put together, whether its an edit of two live sessions or some kind of mail exchange project I am not certain. The music is a somewhat amorphous mass of shifting sections, mostly softly squelching synth and strange, hard to attribute shuffling and scuffing, with one particularly identifiable field recording dropped into proceedings of a thunderstorm. According to the brief liner notes at the Homophoni site there are two field recordings used here, one being the dawn storm and the other being a recording made “inside a metal sphere” presumably the one found in the accompanying image. The end mix of all of this is a layered mesh of textures, nothing ever really adding much attack, no particular spikes, just a constant stream of detail and little flurries of activity rather than anything that really rocks the boat. Its all nicely recorded and has an unbroken flow that makes me wonder who it was all put together. Parts sound improvised for sure, but I wonder if we are hearing some kind of edited together patchwork of improvised parts.
Its a nice little piece for certain however. It does make me want to hear a lot more though. The track slides past very easily on the ear and as a result seems to finish even more quickly than its nineteen minute duration might already suggest. One of the interesting things about downloadable music like this is that the limits and conventions of physical releases can be ignored. If this music had been released on CD then it would have fitted onto a 3″ disc but a 5″ CD containing just nineteen minutes of music would have felt incomplete. Disconnected from any physical form we are left to just hear the music we are given, and if the track doesn’t feel long enough, as this one maybe doesn’t, then thats because the music hooks us enough to make us want to hear more, rather than because we expect a CD to last longer. North North is something that I would like to hear a lot of, and let sit in the background on evenings like tonight when it is raining outside and I am trying to concentrate on something else. Its not that I consider it background music, but there is something about its softness and the continual flow that reminds me of water trickling through a stream- ever present, continually different and yet always similar, slowly drifting past and making the place you are sat a more pleasurable place. Something of a half-hearted comparison maybe, but then also if you stop and pay attention to the trickle of a stream then the details can be thoroughly rewarding.
So a nice little piece then, one that rewards your attention by revealing itself more as you spend more time with it, but then also leaves you wanting to spend longer with it than the brief time allows, listening into it as much as along with it. I ended up putting it on repeat play for much of the evening, and I don’t think you would go wrong to do the same. I’m left just wondering why someone left a big metal sphere in a field.”
The Watchful Ear