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Joshua Sabin * Christian Bouchard * Blessed Initative

Christian Bouchard - Broken Ground

Joshua Sabin - Terminus Drift

JOSHUA SABIN – TERMINUS DRIFT

Terminus Drift is released on the Subtext Recording label, which is also the home of Paul Jebanasam. That’s is no coincidence: both sound artists use the same kind of methods to create their overwhelming and ineluctable soundscapes.
Played at the appropriate level (which means ‘loud’), it feels as if you’re witnessing something larger-than-life..

Jebanasam’s ‘Continuum’ feels as if you’ve become a part of  the Big Bang (especially in a live setting, with visuals by Tarik Barri). But Joshua Sabin‘s focus is the universe close by: he exclusively uses field-recordings captured in transit through Kyoto, Tokyo and Berlin, in addition to electromagnetic field recordings captured in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“Sirens reverberating through station tunnels, fluctuating harmonics of subway engines, echoing tannoy systems, piercing screams of electromagnetic fields.”

However, this does not mean the sound will be more familiar to you everyday life. It’s a disruptive and unpredictable trip that feels like you’re exploring outer space (or inner space, if you prefer).
Sabin reveals details that you never thought were here, and most of them are not exactly comforting.
So it’s a good thing that the closing track, Eki, ends relatively calm, carefully returning the listener back to where he started.

Also on Spotify


Christian Bouchard - Broken Ground

CHRISTIAN BOUCHARD – BROKEN GROUND

If you just listened to the Joshua Sabin album, I recommend you to keep your seatbelt fastened for this new album on Empreintes Digitales,  home of electroacoustic and acousmatic music, musique concrète, soundscapes, audio art and art sonore. 

Broken Ground was commissioned for the Broken Ground exhibition by Derek Besantthat has been presented on various locations since 2012 (in 2017 in Madrid, in 2018 in Tokyo). The exhibition “looks at seven cities over ten years, and how redevelopment infrastructure changes our perception of cityscapes. The collision of the imaging with Christian Bouchard’s electronic soundtrack builds the exhibition installation into a hypothetical representation of the constant change cities are in over time, and how components leave traces or clues to the ones that might have existed here… Even in destruction, there lies the possibility for beauty and reinterpretation.” 

The relation with cities, cityscapes and redevelopment infrastructure may suggest that the basic material for these soundscapes might be taken from environmental and location recordings. In fact there are no recorded sounds in Broken Ground – all sound sources are electronic. The sound samples were completely dissected and augmented to create a new sound environment to accompany the exhibition completing “a hypothetical representation of the constant change cities are in over time, and how components leave traces or clues to the ones that might have existed here…”.
In 2016, the music was remixed to prepare it for this release.


Christian Bouchard – Resistant Materials


Blessed Initiative

BLESSED INITIATIVE – BLESSED INITIATIVE

The bright white cover pictures a stylish, immaculate white car that is about to be hit by a wave of blue paint. This image, from Josephine Pryde‘s series ‘Relax (blue)’ was chosen ‘as a materialization of tension’.
And tension is what is delivered on this album by electro-acoustic composer Yair Elazar Glotmanfrom the first to the very last minute.
It’s as if a giant unknown creature is trying to break through the ground below your feet (… maybe better use your imagination to conjure your own fitting images).

“Blessed Initiative suggests a dissonant, coexistent state of extreme highs and lows. Opposite states coincide, contrast and reflect, creating moments of uncertainty and insecurity. Absurdity and at times even bliss are possible results.”

Not an album to quietly fall asleep with… but of course it wasn’t intended to do so. These intensely energetic compositions will probably raise your adrenalin level and that can be satisfying in its own special way. But I would definitely discourage listening to this album unprepared.

Also on Spotify

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Bjarni Gunnarsson; Pierce Warnecke; N.E. Trethowan

Pierce Warnecke

BG - Paths

BJARNI GUNNARSSON – PATHS

The tracks on this album are ‘reduced, combined and rearranged’ stereo versions of various multichannel compositions created for festivals in Reykjavík, The Hague and Paris. Which raises one question in particular: why not release a multichannel 5.1 version of these pieces too?
I understand this of course: stereo recording is still the main way to go for most listeners, but listening to this music I cannot stop thinking how devastating this must have sounded in multichannel surround.
But even ‘reduced’ to stereo versions, these pieces display a fascinating ‘spatial configuration’, ‘exploring the contact between composed computer sound structures and space’.

If you’re familiar with his previous albums Safn and Processed and Potentials you’ll know what to expect, but if you’re not you should be prepared for an immersive, highly energetic stream of electro-acoustic sounds: Bjarni Gunnarsson‘s trademark ‘sounds focussing on internal activity and motion. Compositions that put into foreground behaviors, actions, fluid sound structures, fuzzy materials or forms. Music without sharp boundaries’.
There are only few moments of rest (like in Pulsatiles) – most of the album is highly dynamic, like travelling at high speed. At véry high speed, not knowing what you might encounter the very next moment!
This album is definitely at its best when played at a high volume.

Apart from being a faculty member at the Institute of Sonology (The Hague) and teaching algorithmic compositions and computer music, Bjarni Gunnarsson is also known as one half of Einoma.



BJARNI GUNNARSSON – PULSATILES


Pierce Warnecke

PIERCE WARNECKE – MEMORY FRAGMENTS

A single opening chord struck on the piano’s lower register – as a warning signal on what’s to come. It is the kind of chord that makes you sit still and wait for what will be next. The sparse piano chords are used to prevent you from drifting off, they draw you back into the the subtle electro-acoustic embedding of ‘decayed memories’….
According to Room40, this is his first solo album. I don’t think that’s entirely true: his website shows there are some digital-only titles previously released under his own name, like this one. And there’s also this one, presenting a kind of glitchy electro-funk.
But it’s true that those albums are incomparable with this new one, on which Pierce Warnecke ‘ties together his interests in electro-acoustic sounds, field recordings and harmonic incongruities’.


“When a memory is recalled it is played back in the mind’s eye, but the experience is never as exact as the original moment. This makes memory a volatile storage medium, subject to transience. Whereas digital audio/video recordings are theoretically immune to this decay caused by the passing of time.

Memory Fragments explores recordings as memories by taking samples (sound, images, objects) of a physical space and then placing them in an imaginary process of transformation and transience that slowly erodes these digital memories until disappearance.”



PIERCE WARNECKE – SHIVERING AS THE WARMTH RETURNS


Grammostola

N.E. TRETHOWAN – GRAMMOSTOLA

Arachnophobia alert: you might think this cover shows some kind of exotic fruit but look closely… I’m not sure about that. Especially not sinve Grammostola refers to a genus of the family of spiders also known as Tarantula.
But no need to worry: they are relatively friendly spiders that are often kept as pets – ‘a beginner’s spider among tarantula enthusiasts’.

N.E. Trethowan (Nicholas Eduard) is a ‘granular electronicist’ from Tampere, Finland, experimenting in ‘textural’ ambient music – ‘music with gradual structures and vague or absent narratives’.
Not a very familiar name probably, although his Bandcamp discography displays 12 titles released since 2008.
Grammostola presents some fascinating soundscapes, with an interesting similarity to the pet spider: you may want to approach carefully, but once you get used to it it’ll become something to care for.

Grammostola is released by the Linear Obsessional label, who have the very pleasant habit of offering a free digital download next to the physical CD-release!

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Thomas Newman & Rick Cox – 35 Whirlpools Below Sound

35 Whirlpools Below Sound

I admit: I was a bit biased.
Thomas Newman is the widely acclaimed composer of more than 50 film and television scores, earned no less than twelve Academy Award nominations and six Grammy Awards for an impressive list of movies that are not exactly of the lesser-known kind.
Just to name a few: American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, The Horse Whisperer, The People vs. Larry Flynt…
Knowing this, I expected to hear some well crafted and slick ‘movie soundtrack music’.

But I was wrong!
Maybe not about the ‘well-crafted’, and maybe not even about the ‘movie soundtrack music’,  but definitely about the ‘slick’!
The 19 tracks on 35 Whirlpools Below Sound” took me on one of the most fantastic, caleidoscopic journeys into soundworlds I hardly believed could exist!

My interest was triggered because the album is released on Cold Blue Music  a label focused on (West Coast) minimalism and post-minimalism – ánd because Newman teams up with Rick Cox, with whom he regularly worked since 1985.
Cox is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, explorer of ‘prepared electric guitar’ techniques, who has played with the likes of Ry Cooder, Jon Hassell, and is no stranger to creating film music himself…hence their connection.

The strange title was another indication this could be something very special.  It is taken from a line in Hervey M. Cleckley’s classic psychology study, The Mask of Sanity, in which the author quotes the following sentence from one of his patient’s letters: “Until you gentlemen decide further what my occupation is, you may as well announce me as comforting 35 whirlpools below sound.”

Scoring successful soundtracks obviously provides the luxury to break completely free of the usual constraints and create something beyond any expectation.
Simply put, this is one of the strangest albums that I can imagine. And not just because of the fantastical soundworlds Newman and Cox create in these “short, richly detailed, multilayered electro-acoustic soundscapes” – but also because of the way these sounds are recorded, the depth of the sound itself.
As Film Score Monthly aptly stated in their review: “I have a feeling that this music is what one would have heard if they’d put a stethoscope to the forehead of Samuel Beckett.”

Posting one single album track as an example does not do justice to the variety of sounds on this album.
So you’ll have to take my word for it, or check the samples at Amazon

If you want to order from Cold Blue Music, here’s their info about ordering (as they don’t have a Bandcamp page as far as I can tell).



THOMAS NEWMAN & RICK COX – TELEGRAPH VINE

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