Hey everyone. I'm back again with another roundup of excellent sound art, musique concrète, field recordings and experimental noise for you to immerse yourself in.
If you like what you see/hear, please considering supporting these tremendous artists & labels by buying their albums and following them on Bandcamp and/or social media.
R. Pierre - Canyon (Los Angeles)
(Here Free Press, 2023)
R. Pierre (Caleb Dravier) is a Los Angeles based sound artist and composer exploring “absolute music” through reductionism and the recontextualization of small-sound phenomena in processed field recordings and microelectronics.
This album consists of two long-form compositions, created using field recordings taken from two different spots in Los Angeles - Griffith Park and Angeles National Forest.
In 'Part I' you will hear the crackling and rustling movements/micro-movements of (what I gather to be) some form of greenery being swayed by the breeze. The quiet earthy textures and shifting timbres of this natural environment creates a rather hypnotic and undulating effect. The movement of the winds, along with the crackling of foliage and grass almost sounds like heavy rainfall on the ocean. The only other sound you will hear in this composition is the occasional tweeting of a lone bird. At one point I thought I heard a distant car horn, but I'm totally sure about that. A very gentle and soothing composition.
'Part II' is a slightly more abstract affair. It starts off with the sound of what I originally thought was a kettle singing...but as the composition slowly develops, I figured that this is possibly the sound of the breeze/wind that's been electronically manipulated and pitch-shifted. This sound eventually dies down a bit and makes way for some beautiful bird song, which has some kind of trippy echo effect on it. The accumulation and volume of these various twitterings builds and intensifies as the piece progresses.
Near the halfway point, you will begin to hear the unmistakable sound of vehicles passing by...reminding us of the strange juxtaposition of the natural and the unnatural. However, these distant motor sounds somehow don't ruin or pollute the peaceful and natural serenity of this soundscape.
'Canyon (Los Angeles)' is a stunning album of exquisite field recordings and mesmerizing non-musical ambience that aurally transports you to a beautiful natural haven, and makes you not want to leave. I really admire how reductive and minimalistic these sound collages are, which takes a certain amount of discipline and restraint on the part of the artist. It's a marvellous listening experience, best enjoyed through headphones in a quiet environment with minimal distraction.
Alëna Korolëva - Marble Route
Alëna Korolëva is a Toronto-based artist and curator, who works with sound, photo and video. Her sound work is focused on field recordings, acoustic ecology, soundscape studies and acousmatic composition. Her technique employes elements of documentary storytelling and experimental music.
'Marble Route' is a (nearly) hour-long sound composition inspired by Korolëva's stay at the Obras art residency, which is located in the Evora district in south-central Portugal. It's been hugely affected and transformed by industrial mining over the course of the last century. You can read more about what the artist has to say about the Marble Route on her Bandcamp page.
This recording begins with the sound of human hustle and bustle amidst cacophonous birdsong and cathedral bells. This suddenly transitions into the familiar sounds of public transportation and heavy rainfall on various ceilings and surfaces, which eventually morphes back to the sound of human activity and children at play, before police sirens and the busy sounds of industry take over...
Then we find ourselves in a cafe or restaurant, hearing the unmistakable clanging and clattering of plates and cutlery, with some snippets of Portuguese conversation intertwined. As this piece develops, you will notice that each segment is constantly broken up by the sounds of travel locomotion. It's very likely that the artist captured this audio while moving between these different locations, and all along the way you will hear some strange and interesting sonic abstractions, and a wide variety of constrasting textures and tones.
We are constantly bouncing back and forth between busy crowded environments (possibly from guided tours through the marble quarries?) to the quieter, more tranquil sounds of sweet nature. You can hear the slow hypnotic rhythms and splashes of the sea, bicycles whizzing by, roosters crowing, flies buzzing furiously, insects chirruping in the night, lots of sweet birdsong, and the natural ambience of the countryside. Sometimes things become very quiet and still, to the point where you can only hear the sound of lone footsteps, grass rustling, shuffling movements, birds singing, animal noises and the quiet crackling of fire. There's one amusing segment where you can hear the intimate sounds of (what I think is) a boar or hippo sniffing about, grunting and splashing in water.
As we near the end of the album we come full circle, back to the sounds of busy human commotion...and in the final few minutes we are treated to another cacophony of glorious birdsong, over which you'll hear some beautiful singing by Eki Shola... signifying a communion with nature, and the surrounding environment in this unique part of the world.
'Marble Route' is a wonderful and immersive sound journey that transports you to a special place with such a rich and fascinating history. Korolëva has skilfully collaged her exquisite field recordings into this magnificent tapestry of unique soundscapes, which makes for a intriguing and rather soothing listening experience.
Peter Wullen - Shapes
(Gipsy House Recordings 2018 / self-released, 2023)
Peter Wullen is a Belgian poet, writer, sound artist and field recordist. He has released a variety of works (both solo and collaborative) - independently and through various labels. 'Shapes' was originally released on the now-defunct Gipsy House Recordings record label back in 2018, but has recently been re-released on his own Bandcamp page.
This album consists of one 55-minute long composition, divided into three parts. It was based on field recordings, which have been manipulated and processed beyond recognition.
This composition begins with a kind of rhythmic metallic ticking, over which swirling noise and a faint tremulous drone can be heard. The effect is rather mesmerizing and haunting.
This starts to quieten down and dissipate towards the 10-minute mark, before disappearing completely. Then you will hear a softer pulsating noise, kind of like the hum of an industrial freezer, or some other huge mechanism, which is both ominous and soothing. As the piece develops you will hear slight variations and fluctuations in the sound, and a very subtle shimmering noise starts to rise to the surface, along with some kind of indistinguishable bangs, which resonate eerily. It all slows down and fades down to gentle white noise again by roughly the 35-minute mark.
For the final segment of the composition, you will hear more looped percussive metallic sounds and whirling noise...with some subtle low-end darkness rumbling the soundscape.
'Shapes' is a wonderfully hypnotic, minimalistic noise composition. It's paced brilliantly, and the atmosphere that Wullen creates with this piece is dark, immersive and strangely beautiful. He makes 55 minutes seem like 5 minutes!
Nichola Scrutton - Night Vision (2023)
Nichola Scrutton is a Scottish sound artist, composer, vocalist and visual artist. She works across a variety of different mediums and processes, including sound art, soundscape, voice, radio art, improvisation, writing, drawing and interdisciplinary collaborations.
'Night Vision' is Scrutton's latest album, and it's centred around a bunch of spoken word excerpts, written in a semi-conscious state, and performed by an ensemble of vocalists, against a backdrop of atmospheric soundscapes.
At the forefront of these recordings you will hear Scrutton's abstract spoken word poetry, delivered with dramatic urgency, which paint images of hypnagogic and somnolent surrealism, while the background is subtly occupied by haunting swirling vocalizations, ambient drones and crackling radio transmissions. These mysterious whispers and eerie echoes help bring the bizarre poetry to life, and make the words shimmer and dance before your eyes, as the night journey unfolds...
Sonically, these pieces constantly ebb and flow with intensity, sometimes winding down to hushed (barely-audible) whispers and sighs, and at other times build up into cacophonous walls of fuzzed-out noise, which the voices are buried within.
'Night Vision' is an absurb and haunting yet endearing work of surreal avant-garde sound art. The abstract and impressionistic poetry blends wonderfully with the minimalistic ambient vocal soundscapes, and makes for a strangely engaging listening experience. An excellent album.
mapped out in lights - longform one
Mykel Body & Daniel Burke are both experimental sound artists. Mykel Boyd is from Bradley, Illinois. He has released many works under his own name - both solo and collaboratively, and is also one half of post doom romance
. Daniel Burke is from Elgin, Illinois and has been releasing works under the moniker Illusion of Safety
In this one hour long-form collaborative composition you will hear slow pulsating drones, swirling tones, fluttering noises, garbled voices, eerie sirens, menacing rumbling and a variety of fuzzy frequencies...dancing and intermingling within this abstract and haunting soundscape.
The piece begins with a quiet (barely audible at first) broodiness which gradually intensifies over the course of the hour into something monstrous and fierce, peppered with snippets of distant field recordings, bizarre sonic abstractions and subtle shimmery ambience.
If this release is anything to go by - mapped out in lights is certainly an intriguing collaborative duo, and 'longform one' is a long, fantastic, atmospheric piece of noise art to completely immerse yourself in.
seah - topography of a tree
seah is an experimental sound artist, musician and visual/performance artist who has released a number of solo works, as well being one half of the experimental noise duo post doom romance
I usually avoid writing about individual (short-form) tracks on this blog, but this one was a bit too delicious to resist. I couldn't help myself...
'topography of a tree' is an atmospheric sound recording inspired by the artist's experience of revisiting a childhood tree, and deciding to climb it. Instead of para-phrasing, here's the artist's own statement about the piece...
''Frog Park in Oakland, CA was a sort of crossroads for me for the duration of the 20 years that I lived there. I passed through it often on my bike as an art school student, fell in love with a tree that I climbed with a friend regularly, and then later would go there with my child. One day I climbed the tree with my phone taped to my chest to capture the closeness of my body to the tree's body. This was before I knew what a GoPro was. From that video, I extracted 12 images that I've managed to hold onto for nearly a decade. The images are in the book. This track is made to accompany the images. However, you can enjoy it's delicate textures without the book as well.''
This 6-minute recording consists of deep dark rumbling drones, rich watery gurgles, distant wind-like whooshing sounds and wavering crackling noises.
It's an abstract and vague sound collage, and I have no idea where the source material comes from... but it undeniably reminds me of the sound and movements found in natural environments. Maybe it's meant to represent the inside of a tree? Whatever the case, this is a beautiful and mysterious drone piece. I only wish that it was at least 10 minutes longer!
Natalia Beylis - Library of Sticks
(Artsy Records, 2023)
Natalia Beylis is a highly-prolific Irish sound artist & musician whose work revolves somewhere between sonic story-teller, composer and multi-instrumental musician. In her recordings and performances she layers seemingly incongruous sounds atop of each other to spawn strange juxtapositions and garbled parallels. She has released a huge variety of works, both independently and through experimental labels.
'Library of Sticks' is an experimental audio collage of found sounds and field recordings, consisting of four different parts.
In Part 1 you will hear a series of fuzzy manipulated voice recordings, weird rattles and (what I believe to be) crickets chirping against a backdrop of slow, broody, ominous drum patterns. The overall effect is rather sinister sounding.
In Part 2 you will hear predominantly creaking/moaning wood sounds - possibly a door or cabinet of some sort being opened and closed... which creates muted thumps and eerie flutterings. The only accompaniment to this sound is some sparse swells of musical notes. An extremely minimalistic track.
In Part 3 you will hear the unmistakable splashing, sloshing and gurgling of water. Judging from the title 'New Potatoes', I'm gathering that these sounds were sourced from a pot of new potatoes being boiled. The layers of manipulated watery noise is delightfully soothing to listen to.
Part 4 is the longest track, and begins with some soft, muted metallic banging and rattling with some extremely subtle and barely audible ambient noise in the background. As the piece developes, you can clearly distinguish the sound of sticks whacking off various objects and surfaces, manipulated and produced in a way that makes the atmosphere rumble, echo and vibrate...gradually building up and gaining intensity and volume as it moves towards its end.
'Library of Sticks' is a bizarre and immersive work of experimental sound art. It's a quiet and inventive study of captured sounds in fleeting moments. Another brilliant work from Beylis.
Lalén Ríos Luna - The Structure of Silk
(Porous Collective, 2023)
Lalén Ríos Luna is a prolific experimental artist, electro-acoustic musician & avant-garde improviser based in Fresno, California. He has released a lot albums under various monikers. His musical style tends to be a complex and bizarre mixture of experimental electronica, avant-garde electro-acoustic improvisation, ambient soundscapes, sound collage and free-form jazz.
'The Structure of Silk' is his latest release, and it's fairly non-musical compared to a lot of his other releases, so I felt that it'd be a good one to write about on this blog.
In these recordings you will hear fluttering cut-up noise, creepy reverberations, glitchy electronica, unnerving pulsations, fuzzed-out brooding ambience, gurgling atmospherics, stretched-out guitar chords, beautiful bursts of jazz improv, siren-like bleeps, howling frequencies, soft background explosions, rippling piano tones and frantic bursts of eerie noise...punctuated by some barely audible segments of a tranquil yet unsettling quietude.
'The Structure of Silk' is all about atmosphere. The shadow-filled soundscapes just suck you in and don't let go. It's an album full of tensions, dissonance and complex noise experimentation, which makes for a satisfying and spine-tingling listening experience.
Manuel Carbone - Coral Melodies
(Adventurous Music, 2023)
Manuel Carbone is an Italian sound artist and electroacoustic enthusiast, currently based in Berlin, with an abstract approach to composition through manipulation of field recording and found-objects, as well as synthesized sounds and tape loops, resulting in works that often range from musique-concréte to ambient and noise. He has released a variety of works under the moniker Cravune
, but has recently taken to releasing stuff under his own birth name.
'Coral Melodies' is his new 2-song EP. In the two minimalistic soundscapes that comprise this release, you will hear wavering drones that gather and build towards a pretty sinister intensity, soft ominous crackling, tremulous feedback, ghostly ambience, wind-like rumbling and rippling howls of abstract noise. Both these compositions are immersive and dark, yet it remains mysterious and impressionistic. The feelings conjured up in these soundscapes are vague and confusing, but it's such an intriguing and rewarding listening experience. A subtle, eerie and gorgeous little EP.
Müller / Doskocz / Gordoa - Aural Accidents (2023)
(Tripticks Tapes, 2023)
Matthias Müller is a trombonist from Berlin (Germany). Paweł Doskocz is a guitarist from Poznań (Poland), and Emilio Gordoa is an electroacoustic multi-instrumentalist from Berlin (Germany). These three improvising musicians met each other for the first time onstage at the Spontaneous Music Festival in Poznań. This album is the recording of their unique ad-hoc performance, on the evening of the last day of this event.
'Aural Accidents' is an album consisting of two 15-minute (ish) pieces of avant-garde free improvisation.
In these recordings you will hear rumbling drum patterns, shuffling snare hits, frantic tom fills, steel clangs, fluttering pick scrapes, stuttering electronics, swells of soulful trombone notes, manipulated guitar feedback, breathy squeaks, dramatic brass drones, frantic insect-like scuttling sounds, walls of cacophonous noise...punctuated by abrupt stops and transitions, and ending with some beautiful birdsong ambience.
'Aural Accidents' is a strange, unnerving and undeniably exciting avant-garde sound journey into wild and wacky sonic territories. These two improvised sound collages are constantly shifting and evolving - the only consistency being their inconsistency. The overall effect is rather dark, eerie and unsettling... yet it's also a fun, immersive and explosive listening experience. Highly recommended.
Andrea Ermke + Anaïs Tuerlinckx - Stadthaus Ulm
(Scatter Archive, 2022)
Andrea Ermke is an experimental Austrian musician whose work tends to be of a very personal and uncompromising style of collage working with mini-discs, field recording, sampling & hands-on sounds.
Anaïs Tuerlinckx is a Brussels-born pianist and teacher of improvisational music in Berlin. Her work explores the inner piano whose work tends towards a more physical and expansive way of playing, her performances are characterized by noise and harsh sounds, but also seek the more elegiac, airy and wide spaces.
'Stadthaus Ulm' is a radiophonic improvisation for a special edition of the program “Entartet” broadcast live from the Stadthaus Ulm by Radio Free FM in September 2022.
In this hour-long collaborative duo live performance/recording, you will initially hear an ambient backdrop of voices and human activity - its cavernous reverberations indicating that it might be some sort of airport terminal or large cathedral, which is subtly and hauntingly accompanied by deep swelling drones, gradually getting louder and more imposing as the piece evolves. Then we start to hear the atonal shimmering of strummed piano strings, short bursts of rainfall and birdsong, eerie and sparse viola notes, the honking of a car horn, a selection of bells and other glistening metallic noises ringing out, fire crackling, doors creaking, watery gurgles, nature sounds and a large variety of found objects being rattled, rumbled, plucked and shaken.
'Stadthaus Ulm' is an astonishing and alluring recording of subtle yet brilliant improvisation, and a dazzling work of art. Highly recommended.
Eric La Casa - Barrières Mobiles
Eric La Casa is a French sound artist who has worked in the field of sound creation since the early nineties through recording, record production, installation, radio and various types of publications.
'Barrières Mobiles' is a sound story told from the perspective of a series of mobile metal barriers that were put up around Paris after the 2015 terrorist attacks. These metal barriers were placed at the entrances to public buildings (schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, museums, town halls, police stations, etc...) which become the symbol for low-noise security in daily life. These recordings were captured by environmental contact microphones.
In these dark and muted recordings you will hear eerie steel clangs and the vast mysterious echoes that follow, metal barriers shuddering and rattling, low frequency rumblings that swirl through these ominous soundscapes, the distant cacophony of human voices - talking and screaming away, howling wind noises, the hollowing shimmering of objects making contact with steel, some sort of mechanical chugging, industrial grinding, random rustling movements, crows cawing, spooky ambience, very faint traces of some type of music playing and a variety of abstract noises and drones that haunt this dark sonic environment.
'Barrières Mobiles' is an eerie and haunting audio portrayal of a troubled world from the point of view of an inanimate object that's used as a symbol and a reminder of the violence and tragedy that plagues our existence on a everyday basis.
It is also a fascinating sound journey, and a mesmerizing work of art. The natural creaking and rattling of these metal barriers that are left outside and exposed to the elements, along with the (maybe) not-so-naturally-occuring accompanying sounds makes for a very interesting listen.
Olli Aarni - Suontee, 23112021
Olli Aarni is a sound artist, multi-instrumentalist and linguist from Helsinki, Finland. He has released a diverse range of albums through various record labels, as well as self-released recordings through his own Bandcamp page.
This album is a collection of linear field recordings taken from the lake of Suontee over a 12-hour time span, using four different environmental microphones. It began as the lake started to freeze over. Throughout the course of the day the ice gradually melted away and the lake became liquidy again, until it eventually froze over again during the night.
In these recordings you will mainly hear the cracking and shattering of ice, the lapping of water and the low rumbles of wind - sometimes in the far distance, sometimes directly hitting the microphones.
As Aarni states on the Bandcamp page, this particular sound of wind making contact with microphones is often an unwanted (and mostly deemed unprofessional) sound, but it's the raw and authentic sound of the lake, and the organic sound of weather, and nature doing its thing on a grey windy November day in Finland.
'Suontee, 23112021' is a charming and fantastic sound documentation of a specific time and place. Some may consider this album to be samey and repetitive, but I find it very meditative and calming, and would gladly listen to this over a long period of time.
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