Elif Yalvaç – My Heart of Noise

Posted: 9 April 2023 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Möller Records – 23rd March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s clear that while the pandemic is officially over, collectively, we’re still very much coming to terms with it, and its aftermath. Lockdown, in particular, has had a deep psychological impact, on so many. Everyone’s experience was, and is, different, of course. I have friends who almost deny to themselves that it happened, that it was a dream or something, and for some of us, in some respects, it’s as though it never ended. This is how people deal with shock and trauma.

My Heart of Noise is not a pandemic album, a lockdown album, a post-trauma album, but as Elif explains, the album “began with a collection of studio and concert recordings from my travels north before the pandemic. It became like a puzzle: I could hear something special, but also that the pieces didn’t fit together well or feel complete. The breakthrough came in realising that this project was meant to be more about creation than preservation, and that it didn’t need to be a literal document any more. It could still be faithful, but instead to the spirit that inspired this music and my travels in the first place, instead of a particular recording. I created new musical starting points, and invited artists I met on my travels plus others, asking them to choose one to begin to work with together. Some artists incorporated our previous recordings, others set off in a new direction, while I shaped the pieces and found a way to connect them together.”

Recent history, then, is marked not as BC and AD, but BP and AP – before pandemic and after pandemic, and My Heart Of Noise reflects Yalvaç’s attempts to ‘make sense of a noisy world’. And the world is indeed, noisy, and difficult to articulate. There is simply too much noise too much happening all at once. It’s a perpetual sensory overload.

For this, her debut album, Elif Yalvaç involved a number of the people she encountered along the way of her journey, and the title also references this, the way she became the hub in a collective process.

The collaborative aspect means that each track does have a slightly different feel, despite all being centred around eerie ambient soundscapes.

‘Orchestra of Light’, the album’s first track, is a layered composition of dronies and hums and whispers which drift and swirl around some of the mind’s darker recesses. The textures and tones rub against one another and the edges aren’t all smooth, with buzzes and barbed, drilling sounds grating against the grain, meaning there’s a certain friction, a tension, creating a sense of discomfort.

‘Gate Check’, which follows, is softer, but the notes bend and twist and the supple, mellow tones are spun with a sense of the awkward and the uncanny, but nothing so warped as ‘Mielmaisema’, with its collage of human vocalisations and clunking clumps of thuds and thumps Amid whirls and crackles and hums, from which grinding groans of decaying Krautrock creak. It may be less than five minutes in duration but it packs a lot of shiversome strangeness into its short space, in which even chirruping birdsong feels somehow unsettling.

My Heart of Noise is not an overtly collage-based album, but it does assemble many sources and sounds, and often overlaps and overlays them to disquieting effect, and I’m at times reminded of vintage sci-fi and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

‘Cloud Score’ sits somewhere between post-rock and classic drifting ambience, while seven-minute closer ‘Taiga II’ very much feels like the lifting of the clouds and the breaking into light, but at the same time feels like a storm building on the horizon, and ‘Dronasaurus’ indicates that it’s not 100% serious 100% of the time.

My Heart of Noise is a restless work, one which ventures and explores, and never for a moment settles into comfort or conformity. It is not an easy album: whenever things feel like they’re settling into something nice, a cloud of disruption and difficulty will drift over and raise a shiver. You can never really settle or feel at ease with My Heart of Noise – but as a representation off life in the world as is, this is a fair summary. Keep your eyes and ears open: there is always something around the corner.



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