"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Air & amplification

Talking of Australians & field recordings, back to Robert Curgenven. His TSU duo will be performing alongside Stephan Mathieu - as part of their joint tour, which kicked off down in Cornwall last night - for a Room40 presentation with BJ Nilsen this Sunday. That'll follow an appearance near our neck of the woods & participation in Saturday's Mie/Hibernate extravaganza with further LMYE alumni Simon Scott, Relmic Statute, Ithaca Trio & Danny Saul in Manchester...

TSU, in which Curgenven pairs vinyl degeneration & remote field recordings with Joerg-Maria Zeger's guitar & effects, seems to be more of a live & gallery proposition than a recorded one. But a taste of their compelling, dense accumulations can be heard in the 2009 installation below.


TSU also features on one of the peaks of Curgenven's work to date, Oltre (Spotify). Italian for further, longer or over, it could also be read as a hybrid of ole & autre - a sort of flamboyant otherness, even if this fails to capture the record's austerity or its enormity.

Zeger accompanies Curgenven on the beautifully shaped, fiercely buzzing Largo capriccioso (Spot).

Largo capriccioso (extract; re-up)

Blurb: "Oltre documents the degradation and transformation over two months of live performances of theTransparence and its use within an integrated system of subsonic feedback from ventilators, acoustically gated binaural microphones, modal micro-variations in guitar feedback, field-recordings from across remote areas of Australia and the live, physical interplay of the turntable, dubplate and stylus - combining to create a field which moves beyond the original recordings and their individual spaces."

Oltre is part of a larger project around dubplate decay that also includes Transparence. Hear several powerful live workouts, including the 'instrument's debut, in videos below.

"Cut at Dubplates and Mastering in Berlin by Rashad Becker at extremely low volume and having no audible bass response of its own, the dubplate works within the physical limitations of the vinyl medium, employing the object as sound source and sound medium to become an instrument in its own right. The ephemeral audio signal becomes present only when played at high volume, allowing the dubplate to produce room-filling bass feedback via the resonance of the turntable and additional overtones - “Transparence” is designed to produce a unique physical response from the room, air and amplification with each playing and simultaneously to gradually cause its sound to disappear every time it is played, as the needle gently abraids the soft vinyl surface, replacing the high overtones slowly with new artefacts and crackle that cause the sound to continuously change and evolve."

air+electricity - live in hamburg

air+electricity live at Mikro_Makro Festival in Slupsk, 2008

Premiere performance of "Transparence" (RF007) dubplate as part of air+electricity set at Mikro_Makro

a+e18 [extract & remix] (via Compost & Height)

Photo: Katie Hepworth

The earlier Silent Landscapes weights field & turntable input differently. Paving the way for Seaworthy & Matt Rosner's fine Two Lakes (Spot), it subjugates electronics to a minor, connective role & foregrounds often ancient Australian sources.

"Composed from unprocessed recordings made between 1999 and 2008 in places that include some of the world’s oldest - the 2.5 billion year-old rock-shelves of the Tanami Desert in north Western Australia, Litchfield National Park and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory; volcanic fields by the imposing Mount Warning (Wollumbin) in northern New South Wales; the desolate open plains between the Channel country and Barkly Tableland in Central Queensland; along Indigenous songlines that cross and connect the ancient continent – from Muggadah (Echo Point) in the Blue Mountains near Katoomba to Coober Pedy in South Australia - these recordings combine to present a compelling insight into the experience of space, place and time across a country that can offer much but often says little."

Silent Landscapes No 4 [extract] (from Silent Landscapes, Recorded Fields)

Silent Landscapes No 5 (via Compost & Height)

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