Robert Scott Thompson * Basinski/English

phonotopological

ROBERT SCOTT THOMPSON – PHONOTOPOLOGICAL  Also on Spotify

The extensive discography of Robert Scott Thompson goes all the way back to 1976, when he started composing music using a Moog Series III and two 4-channel tape recorders. In most of his work,“the blending of the acoustic and the synthetic – the real and the imaginary – has been a guiding idea.”

Phonotopological can best be described as an acousmatic work: “Sound elements are often obscured from their acoustic origins due to significant transformational processing and recontextualization.”
The 13 sections of this 80 minute piece (which can best be played in one continuous session) are created “from 125 complex sub-elements. Each one of these sub-elements, themselves created from a number of individual sound sources, is used only once in the work. Relatively continuous in sound, the composition has a clear formal design of contrast and internal development.”

The result is a fascinating wondrous collection of abstract (but pleasant) otherworldly soundscapes that seem to fill the room completely, due to the detailed spatialization created with ambisonic techniques.



Se;va Oscura

WILLIAM BASINSKI/LAWRENCE ENGLISH – SELVA OSCURA  Also on Spotify

Sometimes I simply skip a recommendation of an album, simply because I assume that the artists in question are so well-known that everyone interested will immediately know about it. Such was the case with this album, a collaboration of two giants of the genre Lawrence English and William Basinski. I guess they don’t need any further introduction at all.

But ever since this album was released (october 2018), I found myself playing it over and over. I do not make end-of-year lists for various reasons, but if I did, this album would definitely be among the most impressive releases of the year.
So I guess there’s no harm in mentioning it – for the very few that may have missed the release.

Selva Oscura translates as Twilight Forest.
“The phrase draws its roots from Dante’s Inferno. It metaphorically speaks to both those who find themselves on the unfamiliar path and more explicitly the nature of losing one’s way in place and time.” 

This aptly describes the nature of the two long compositions on this album, called Mono No Aware and Selva Oscura. Each of these are around 20 minutes long: the perfect length for a vinyl edition of course. (On Spotify, however, both tracks are divided in 4 parts each – which seems a strange decision to me because of the rough cutoffs of the parts. But luckily the spotify player is perfectly capable of playing them seamlessly). 

“The works each dwell in an ever shifting, yet fundamentally constant state of unfolding. As one sound fades away, another is revealed in its place, creating a sense of an eternal reveal.”

 

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