"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Sea-green ink

These ears have made few more welcome new acquaintances this year than Alex Alarcon's Sustainer. No real surprise, though, considering the pedigree of his ravishing Radiolas - released on Lawrence English's Room40, mastered by Stephan Mathieu

Frosted with shortwave fuzz & punctuated by morse-like bleeps, these eight pieces constitute a hymn of & to communicating across the darkness - a set of aural messages in a bottle, pushed into the void out of hope & longing. 

& now there's Taps too - a lovely, glowing exercise in a kind of muffled domestic Gamelan via Tessellate

Blurbs: "There is a history of music stemming from time spent recovering from injury. On such example is Brian Eno’s story of creating ambient music, following a prolonged period being couch bound with a broken leg.

Sustainer’s Radiolas, shares a similar tale of horizontal inspirations. Whilst recovering from a serious health condition, Alex Alarcón aka Sustainer, began working with a very limited palette of equipment at arms reach. This mix of small recorders, pedals and other electronics become a processing chain through which he started to feed shortwave radio recordings. 

Having worked with radio recordings previously it didn’t take long for these recordings to take on a very personal and cathartic aesthetic. “Years ago i used to record things with another shortwave receiver at my parents house,” Alex explains, “because it was near the sea and you could catch easily stations from north of Africa. Sometimes I was even able to reach marine stations from boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea. It was an incredibly inspirational feeling tapping into these streams of sound."

[Taps] "During the recording process, Alex searched for every resonant object in his home and found that metal, ceramic and crystal items were of particular use. These were struck with rubber-textile mallets and fed into a loop pedal via contact mics. Once these sounds and tones were collected, they were then carefully polished into fluid timbres, using various techniques. 

He strived to create a record made entirely from the sounds of his environment, using his home as an instrument. He wanted to create textures that reflected the peace of home which could only be achieved there, since outdoor field recordings can be so noisy at times."

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