Miguel Frasconi – Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage)

Posted: 12 February 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

clang records – clang032

Christopher Nosnibor

Stan Brakhage was an experimental filmmaker who sometimes closely shot glass objects. A huge influence on Frasconi, who sometimes makes music with glass instruments. The album title is a play on words, in reference not only to his artistic forebear but also the cracked quartz crystal bowl which was used to make this 20-minute musical work.

Having previously given the instrument a rather too vigorous workout during a rehearsal, Frasconi decided to explore its absolute limits. As Frasconi himself observes, ‘Glass is fragile. Glass is easily broken. Most glass instruments ignore these fact and instead focus on the material’s delicate beauty’.

Standing Breakage captures the artist’s efforts to complete the job he unintentionally began when the instrument – pictured on the front cover – became fractured. Ironically, despite labouring at the fracture in order to bring about the bowl’s ultimate destruction, he failed to achieve the desired moment of breakage. As such, for all its fragility, the glass held firm against a sustained assault.

An awareness of the circumstances of the album’s creation is, in this instance, integral to its appreciation, first and foremost, because if you didn’t know it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl, you would never guess that it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl. Because it doesn’t sound like it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl. In fact, it doesn’t sound like anything organic, or even of this world.

Standing Breakage finds Frasconi create an intriguing blend of chimes, rings, swirls and twangs, scrapes and chatters. Heavy, bulbous bass tones resonate, twisting and spinning upwards. Percussive thumps and sounds like scraping violin strings all emerge from the single instrument under the musician’s interrogation. Clanging, gong-like sounds crash. Eerie sounds that defy any obvious description, and sound alien and other-worldly in their origin drift. Booming synth-like notes balloon outwards, expanding in the air.

Tension mounts and builds. You sit, teeth on edge, fists clenched. You’ve no idea what will come next. You will twist and squirm. You’ll conjure myriad images in response to the strange sounds. But never once will you think ‘this sounds like someone pissing about with a glass bowl with a crack in it.’

Miguel Frasconi

Miguel Frasconi’s Website

  1. […] The bubble of conversation marks the opening moments of ‘Crystal Counterpoint’: a recording which sounds like a restaurant or party, the chinking of classes and general hubbub of people grows and stops abruptly with the chime of a glass. Inspired by the sounds of the parties Åke’s parents used to host, and which he would hear from upstairs, the piece uses the very same glasses to create a wealth of sounds, from long, low drones to higher hums, elongated undulations and quick, bright glissandos. Grand swells of sound rise and cease suddenly, replaced by strange, quiet drifts of sound: it’s very easy to forget exactly what you’re listening to. But if anything, awareness of the origin of the sounds only heightens the experience, as you’re likely to marvel and wonder just how glasses could sound like an oboe or high winds across mountain tops. In his notes, Parmerud notes that there already exist a large number of recordings which explore glass sounds, and it is, indeed, an interesting piece to place alongside Miguel Frasconi’s ‘Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage)’ (clang records, 2016). […]

  2. […] s much pissing about, then perhaps that’s largely the point: like many experimental albums – Miguel Frasconi’s Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage) captures the artist striving to push a cracked glass bowl to its limits and beyond – Late Style […]

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