Michael Begg * TheAdelaidean

Ice Factory


Michael Begg has specialized in using all kinds of data as an input source for his music: oceanic details on Light Water Is Black Water, weather data on Witness 2, and the movement of satellites on Witness 1 and Witness 3.
The pieces on Sounding The Ice Factory ‘assume their structure from observed data and modelling
predictions arising from studies of Pine Island Glacier as well as the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf and Weddell Sea in western Antarctica’.
And there are many, many data to observe: ‘the temperature of water, the concentration of salt, the rate of current flow, the wind and its ability to transport ice formed in polynyas (openings in the sea ice cover), the rise and fall of the thermocline; the depth at which cold, salt rich surface water meets warmer, deeper water.’
I cannot begin to understand what complex algorithms are used to turn this massive amount of data into (more or less) coherent sounds, so I simply trust Begg in creating this ‘faithful report in which the aesthetics of sound have steered the way.’
He doesn’t offer us a finalized opinion, but aims ‘to allow the data to speak for itself’, and just asks us to ‘listen to the relationship between the flow of data points. For the most part it should be possible to discern a curious harmonic balance in these ambient chamber pieces. But where the readings break, or shift uncomfortably, the sound breaks too’.

[Edit] I forgot to mention this is a free download!



The climate crisis obviously has an increasing impact on music, too. The decline of Antarctica may be perhaps the most poignant and urgent example of what lies ahead of us. On Hyperaurea, however, the focus is not on the impending crisis itself, but on a sonic description of the enigmatic beauty of the landscape itself. Still, the message is clear: we should do everything possible to preserve the mystery of Antarctica.

theAdelaidean is the musical alias of best-selling author Sean Williams (from Adelaide, of course). Hyperaurea (literally meaning ‘beyond south’) is his ‘latest attempt to capture the essence of my fantastical journey south’. It is the soundtrack of William’s journey to Antarctica in 2017. Details of this expedition are included in the extensive 23-page booklet that is included in the download, which also describes the memories that formed the basis for each track.

The vastness of the Antarctic landscape is also mirrored in this project: no less than three hours and fifty minutes divided in three chapters: Echoes of Antarctica, Ghosts Of The Ice, and Southern Stars. The first two present 14 pieces in various lengths, ranging from 59 seconds to 36 minutes. The third chapter has one 61-minute composition: Polaris Australis.

The music ‘evokes the timeless, dreamlike nature of life and death on the ice’, charting ‘a course through the ice, sky, water, weather and rock of a precious and hostile landscape that few people ever visit’.

The massive release is divided in three chapters called Disc 1, 2, and 3 – but this does not refer to a physical release: Hyperaurea is a digital-only release that is offered as a Name Your Price download (!!).

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