Posts Tagged ‘environmental’

Room40 – 3rd September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a work that connects the event with the memory of the event, and exists in the space in between the actual and the recollection – and specifically, those things forgotten .

The material was recorded when David Toop and Akio Suzuki visited Australia, where Lawrence English resides, back in 2013. The pair engaged in creating a site-specific work during a residency on Tamborine Mountain, and were joined by Lawrence during the project. The release is accompanied by a book containing text written by Toop at the time documenting the visit.

And English writers, ‘Going back to listen again to these recordings of which I was a part with David and Akio, I was surprised by what elements had stayed with me and what others had slipped into the eternal greying of my mind. I have vivid recollections of listening to a Lyre bird before recording the pieces together at Witches Falls. I remember both Akio and David finding musicality in decaying palm fronds. I remember Akio’s voice, amplified through his Analpos, bouncing off the stones and trees. I remember David’s flute, so quiet in the pitch black of the night forest as to appear like a hushed tone of wind or a distant animal calling. I also remember trying to match my modest hand held electronics with the pulsing and pitching of the insects around me.’

Memory fades and distorts over time; but then again, is Toop’s contemporaneous document entirely factual and without bias? Nothing here now but the recordings… surely we can at least trust the recordings to be pure in their capturing of the event? Of course not: there are no facts, only representations, fragments. Everything is subject to some form of filter, and eyewitness accounts to crimes are notoriously unreliable, even immediately after the fact.

The album contains six tracks, each one a collage of sounds captured in and extracted from their environment to exist in distilled detachment in recording. Context counts, and while the drips and trickles, gurgles and chirps all sound familiar in a ‘natural’ setting, when set apart, things become less clear. You see, with the sounds of othjer / unidentifianblee origin blended in, it’s difficult to determine the origins of any of the individual sounds and they twist and blur together.

It sounds like running rivers and splashing waterfalls, merged with extraneous sounds doused in heavy echo. It sounds like finger-drums. It sounds like chattering primates, agitated parakeets. It sounds like barks and grunts and yammers, reverberating into the humidity. Amidst the drift of the breeze on ‘Night Drive’ a springing sound arrives as if from nowhere. It’s one of those cartoonish, novelty spring sounds. Surely it wasn’t in the original recording? There are strains of awkward, infiltered feedback, notes of a flute trilling and warbling without musical focus, as the notes yodel and wobble, or otherwise simply waver as quavering notes trailing in the air.

Ominous drones hover and hum, tweets hover and howl out into the air. There are extensive passages where there is little of note – that is to say, not lonely little remarkable, but few notes to speak of – and sparse sounds buzz and drawl seemingly endlessly, like the agitated bee sound that vibrates hard during ‘Small Holes in the Sky’. ‘Leaving No Trace’ again sounds like running water and returns to the sounds of wildlife and the jungle.

Set adrift, and with only the sounds to interact with, the listener finds their own memory triggered, perhaps first and foremost by sound association, having no likely connection with the location where the recordings took place. Just as distance in time leads to a slow decay, so layering if interpretation and association also diminish the link to the actual event, leaving only thoughts on thoughts.

A handful or sharp, trilling noises penetrate the bibbling babble, and then there is a stillness, and having awoken in Autumn, as night has fallen, it is indeed Winter already. Breathing Spirit Forms is a quite remarkable document – not of the actual event, but of something approximating it.

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