Joe Evans + Craig Burston – Systems out of Chance


Ambient/Electronic albums with an added DVD have my extra attention, especially when the DVD includes surround version of the music.

In this respect, Systems Out of Chance is a feast for the senses, because it not only contains fascinating music on CD, but also a beautifully constructed “three way dialogue between text, image and sound” (as Sam Gatherole, art writer, described it) on DVD.
Including a surround mix on the DVD!

The Systems Out of Chance exposition was presented at the Parfitt Gallery in Croydon in march, 2010, as a result of a collaboration between Joe Evans (sound) and Craig Burston (images).
“Six speakers and three portrait monitors were synched to create an immersive audio-visual triptych born out of a shared love of systems, chaos and the everyday’

Systems out of Chance exposition

The visual part consists of ‘everyday’ photographs of lost and discarded gloves, transposed to text statements (in tag cloud format) and to colour charts.
The music is indeed well described by Sam Gatherole as ‘a dialogue between chance and structure’.
Basically there are three versions (paired with the different kinds of images) and some variations where the different aspects of the basic parts are combined or processed.

Version 1 is the most basic version: a gracefully sounding piano composition that somehow reminded me of John Cage’s “In a Landscape”.
The composition is a remarkable mixture of what sounds as ‘chance music’ (created using ‘automatic writing systems’) and a modern classical piano composition.
Version 2 and 3 are linked to this version but add different electronic dimensions to it, slowly drifting away from the piano composition into electronic territories.

To quote the introduction notes (since I could not think of a better description):
“The soundtrack throws light on Joe’s lightness of touch and knack of making the mathematical sound human and the chaotic sound warm.”

The DVD follows the same pattern: V1 (shown above) shows the glove photographs paired to the piano composition, V2 the graphic text descriptions, V3 the color charts – while the Triptych versions combine these sounds and images in a complete new version.

The surround mix on DVD is “simply” a combination of the three stereo tracks i.e. V1 centre, V2 Left and V3 Right – resulting in some wonderfully immersive effects.

While all these description may sound ‘arty’ and ‘academic’, in fact I found the music a great pleasure to listen to (and the DVD a pleasure to watch).
Systems Out of Chance works well even if you have not visited the Parfitt gallery exposition (and I guess that includes most of us). And that goes for the audio CD as well as for the DVD part of this album!

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