Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Corker’

SN Variations – 7th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Did downloading really kill physical formats and the music industry? If you believe the media and the major labels, yes, and again, when it comes to non-major artists, it’s clear that the current industry model is not one that benefits them kindly. Then again, streaming services probably did more damage than downloading – or home taping – ever did. But there is also a very definite flipside, in that the cost of producing physical releases on a small scale is phenomenally expensive on a per-unit basis, to the point that it’s often prohibitive, and that’s before one factors in issues of distribution and postage.

There’s also a matter of purpose: conventionally, singles were released to promote albums, and in order to achieve that aim, tended to be the most commercially viable song(s) from said album that radio stations (and, later, blogs and the like) may play and draw potential buyers in. But artists like Adrian Coker don’t make music that has that kind of marketability. You won’t find his music being played on commercial radio, and a single is probably likely to sell a bunch of albums.

No artist makes music for it not to be heard. And so it is that SN Variations release Adrian Corker’s ‘9 Spaces’ single as a download only, and it makes sense, particularly in context, as a musical work that was only possible via digital means, as Corker explains: ‘This piece started quite a while ago in a room with me, Chris Watson and an electro magnetic receiver made in Russia. It ended with the processing of these parts by Takuma Watanabe and a percussive improvisation by Tatsuhisa Yamamoto that left my original demo in his recording worldising my track in Japan. In between over the last year musicians such as Aisha Orazbayeva, the Ligeti Quartet and Pascal Wyse sent me parts remotely from London and various places around Europe. A track that was made in 9 spaces of which I was in 3’.

It’s in this context that the title makes sense also. And the roll-call of contributors is quite something:

Tatsuhisa Yamamoto – percussion

Takuma Watanabe – max

Chris Watson – field recordings

Aisha Orazbayeva – violin

Pascal Wyse – trombone

Ligeti Quartet:

Mandhira de Saram – violin

Patrick Dawkins – violin

Richard Jones – viola

Val Welbanks – cello

The first version, a quite punishing nine-and-a-half-minutes in duration, begins with grating drones and serrated buzzes, somewhere between an electric hair clipper and a palm-sander, before transitioning into trepidatious territory, with skittering fleeting buzzes and swarming sounds creating an unsettling tension atop a sparse, hesitant bass that stops and starts, single notes echoing and halting, And ultimately, it’s quite challenging – but to be clear, that’s no criticism. Art that isn’t challenging isn’t really art, but entertainment.

‘V2’ is subtler, quieter, stealthier, the drones trimmed, more mid-range, cleaner, manifesting as more like organ notes that quiver and quaver into space, disturbed only by the occasional extraneous disruption. As such, it’s more ambient and less upfront. It’s also everything a single should be: a snapshot of the artist, showcasing different aspects of their sound in contrasting and complimentary fashion.

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SN10D_art

SN Variations – 5th July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Having read the press release, and from my previous – albeit somewhat limited – experience of lock grooves, I had expected something overtly technical and perhaps somewhat tedious:

‘A lock groove is one cycle of one groove on a record. This is 1.8 sec cut at 33RPM and 1.33 cut at 45RPM. Having used lock grooves on film scores for British film Waiting for You and The Have Nots directed by Florian Hoffmeister, Corker wanted to explore their potential further in a standalone more percussive release. He used the cutting lathe currently residing in the living room of The Exchange mastering legend Graeme Durham to experiment with different sounds cut onto acetate and then recorded over different durations back into a computer. The process is similar to print processes in the visual arts where there is a high degree of unpredictability in how the eventual lock groove is recorded and then plays. Also because of the softness of the acetate the lock grooves break down as they are re re-recorded causing unexpected effects as the needle carves away the surface of the vinyl. This generative process adds layers of unpredictable noise culminating finally in white noise. These are combined forming frames for performances of violin, percussion and piano. The pieces reflect on the tension between the mechanical and the human gesture/expression and place where they merge.’

The album is split across two sides: ‘Inflow’ and ‘Outflow’, with each comprising three pieces. Rhythm is at the forefront of the pieces. Not solid, beat-built rhythm, but repetitive swells of sound. The close-packed humming loop that forms the foundation of ‘Inflow Part 1’ is gradually overlaid with a range of other sounds which repeat at varying regular frequencies, an immense, dramatic crash leading to a sustained crescendo. ‘Part 2’ pairs an echoing piano note and a picked string which vibrate off one another in a space between accord and discord, and it’s discord that marks the mood on ‘Part 3’. The album’s longest piece finds Corker develop tension through the juxtaposition of elongated drones and stabs of rumbling piano and sharp strings before building to a large swell of sound that fizzes and hisses white noise around the cavernous conglomeration.

‘Outflow Part 1’ creates a different kind of tension, with harsher sounds – buzzing, grating, distorted sounds looped in short, fast repetitions that get into your skull and raise the blood pressure. I’m actually typing visibly faster, and not for the first time I’m aware of the way music affects the listener in ways beyond subliminal mood adjustments. ‘Part 2’ is subtler, more subdued as an ominous drone hovers beneath scratches and scrapes. and leads into the slowly-shifting ‘Part 3,’ which transitions through a gentle pulsation to a wail of straining violin.

And however technical its construction, it’s far from tedious.

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Adrian Corker – Music For Lock Grooves