The variety of tracks on each CD reflect the diversity of the composers’ languages and the consistent quality of their output. — Computer Music Journal, USA
Foil-Counterfoil: Prix Ars Electronica 1998 — Mention
Quest, research, discovering the artwork, following the sound. To follow the sound trail, to get back to the sonic source. The works on Traces are an invitation to play this game…
- The University of Sheffield
CD (IMED 0053)
- Label: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 0053
- UCC 771028005321
- Total duration: 61:57
- 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
- 50 g
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Download (IMED 0053_NUM)
- Label: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 0053_NUM
- UCC 771028005383
- Total duration: 61:57
The works on this disc fall into three categories: those verging towards the abstract (Junky, Dreamarena), those focusing upon re–hearing natural sound–objects (Study in Ink, Foil–Counterfoil) and the ‘radiogenic’ (Sieve).
Are there any common stylistic traits present in this music? The works on Traces offer a search for the hidden, both within the piece and within the sound. It is this hidden property in certain sounds that still excites the ear. The microphone offers us the chance to examine these hidden qualities, such as the sound of a marker pen on a whiteboard, the sole sound–source used for Study in Ink. An everyday sound that could perhaps be described onomatopoeically by the word “squeak” offers surprising versatility when examined through the microphone, extending even to ‘human’ characteristics of strength, weakness, enquiry, frivolity, humor and self–parody.
Traces can be seen as that which is left behind but which can still be recovered, at least in part. One takes away a representation of having been in the presence of the original, much as one might take away a brass rubbing of a memorial plate. It is the marks on the paper that then become important and which need to be reaffirmed and redefined.
The word “traces” resonates with other titles on this disc: Dreamarena — our dreams are often remembered only as fleeting images; Foil–Counterfoil — the wordplay in the title refers to a receipt (such as the counterfoils or stubs in a checkbook); Sieve — the sieve leaves only a trace of that which passed through it.
Finally, you have a tracing of my experience of working with these sounds to shape the pieces that make up this disc. I hope you enjoy them.
Adrian Moore, Sheffield [xi-00]
Some recommended items
In the press
Materials distributed in various areas according to the methods used abstraction processes emerged from concrète materials taken to different degrees. The link between the various pieces comes from the studio techniques used, which bestow a continuity to the pieces. Kinetic based poetics, in perspective with a sonic plane akin to compute imagery or analogue image digitalization.
This is a casual listening path, an invitation to travel — not a guided tour per se, more of an itinerary, akin to Romantic-era travel literature. So this will be a listening itinerary, an invitation to discover a highly subjective selection of electroacoustic composers from a specific corner of the world. Our destination: Northern Europe.
France reigns over European electroacoustic music like a despotic queen. The persisting influence of Pierre Schaeffer’s work — even more than 50 years after the invention of what he has called “musique concrète” — and the gravitational pull of the Ina-GRM tend to hide from the rest of the world the work being accomplished elsewhere in Europe.
So let’s start our journey in one of France’s neighbors, Belgium. The country owes much of its electroacoustic activity to Annette Vande Gorne, the indefatigable animator of the Musiques & Recherches center. Her music displays a strong sense of serenity, something rare in the field of tape music. Tao, a cycle about the five base elements (air, earth, metal, fire and water), remains a classic. In it she explores every possible transformation of the sounds associated to these elements with an uncommon level of artistry and poetry. A student of Vande Gorne, Stephan Dunkelman has picked up on her grace, a grace he transmutes into movement. Often the result of a collaboration with choreographers, his works are driven by an inner force that substitutes the sensuality of movement to Vande Gorne’s philosophical — almost mystical — depth. His pieces Rituellipses and Thru, Above and Between, released on the album Rhizomes, deserve your attention.
A jump across the Northern Sea and we set foot on English ground. Birmingham has become an important creative node in electroacoustic music, thanks to the work of composer Jonty Harrsison and his Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (better known as BEAST), a laboratory for experimentation and sound diffusion that has helped many talented composers in developing their art. Harrison’s music is an essential listen. His piece Klang (released on Évidence matérielle) ranks among the best-known electroacoustic works of the last 25 years. His precise sound constructions and his distinctive way of compressing sound matter into streams of energy put him up there with Pierre Henry, Francis Dhomont and Bernard Bernard Parmegiani. One can follow the traces of his techniques into the works of Adrian Moore, one of his students, especially in the latter’s fondness for putting simple sound sources (marker on a white board, tin foil) through complex transformations. Sieve, from the album Traces, uses a catchy playfulness to make this transformative process transparent.
Denis Smalley was born and raised in New Zealand, but he has been living in the UK since the mid-‘70s. His contributions to the acousmatic corpus and to the development of sound diffusion make him not only the contemporary but in a sense the acolyte of Harrison. Furthermore, the two composers share a similar interest in form and in the choreographed displacement of abstract sound objects through space and time. Wind Chimes (on Impacts intérieurs) and Base Metals (on Sources/Scènes) are good illustrations of the slightly cold yet fascinating beauty of his music. John Young, one of his students — and another New-Zealander who studied and now teaches in England), follows a similar approach, although he replaces Smalley’s elemental sound sources with more emotionally charged images. The works featured on his CD La limite du bruit offer to the listener several occasions to dive into his or her own memories, the sound of a squeaky swing or a creaky door turning into avatars of Proust’s madeleine. Time, Motion and Memory is a choice cut.
Scandinavian electroacoustic music is still too largely ignored on our side of the Atlantic, but empreintes DIGITALes’ catalog allows us to make a short stop to round up our peregrinations. Natasha Barrett has studied with Harrison and Smalley and has been involved in BEAST, but since 1998 she has elected Norway as her base camp. There, she has stepped away from the style of her teachers and has sought inspiration in the Nordic cold. Her Three Fictions, released on Isostasie, deserve many listens. And let me bring this listening path to an end with one of the key composers in electroacoustic music today, the Swedish Åke Parmerud, whose Renaissance (on Jeu d’ombres) pays tribute to the analog synthesizer without resorting to nostalgic tricks.
Adrian Moore’s CD Traces (2000) showcases five electroacoustic music works from 1994 to 1997. All five pieces on the CD are acousmatic, i.e. they involve no intervention of ‘performed materials.’ Mr. Moore’s fluency and eloquence in manipulating and shaping sound objects such as recorded tinfoil, a marker pen, and balloons is of the highest craftsmanship. While listening to the tracks one can imagine him steering his magic mouse from pixel to pixel, and conjuring up sound images that often reveal no clear traces of their origins or roots. At the same time, as in the last piece Sieve for example, the composer does use recognizable and familiar sound sources but puts the listener in a new listening environment through strategic juxtaposition of those sound materials: “Normally one would listen to cars when approaching an intersection and listen to the birds or the wind in the trees as one walks along the sidewalk. If this was reversed and we listened to the cars as we walked along the sidewalk and the birds at the intersection, our relationships to the environment would be changed.”
Sieve also deals vividly and directly with the notion of space in music. In one section of the piece the listener is washed out from an interior sound space to an exterior one space a la ‘Ono Fluxus flush’. In another moment you’re inside a room that has a deafening silent feel of an anechoic chamber, listening to the ringing of a small carriage clock and the next moment you suddenly find yourself in the courtyard of a cathedral with its overwhelming ambience. The transportation occurs rapidly, yet in a consistently streamed projection achieved through the use of the timbral boolean product between the clock’s chimes and large bells from the church. Constant bizarre juxtapositions of sound objects that morph from the known to the unknown and unknown to the known appear throughout the piece and in some cases, sounds such as the church bells return transformed to a degree of ‘ambiguous certainty’, most notable towards the end of the recording. The listener is often induced to seek out residual traces of original sound sources that seem to be temporally and spectrally altered. However, one is in most cases given one second and one timbral feature too little to overcome one’s ‘uncertainty of certainty’ regarding the identity of the timbre.
The first track Junky (1996), according to Mr. Moore is ‘electroacoustic ambient’ music. One can quite easily hear both the ‘electroacoustic’ and ‘ambient’ elements in the piece although the heredity of the sounds themselves is digitally smeared via sonic treatment to render unrecognizable sound objects. The form however, is a more familiar one and follows an A, B, A+B, and a coda design with various ‘cadential’ points. In fact, traditional musical idioms such as melody, harmony, and rhythm appear in various parts in the piece. A slowly moving harmony, which strongly makes up the ambient part of Mr. Moore’s ‘electroacoustic ambiance’, mainly hovers around a steady C# major tonality omnipresent throughout the piece. However, the ambient moments are not something that would be regarded as ‘music for airports’: the smooth ambient clouds are constantly tagged with insect-like gestures that oscillate unpredictably between the foreground and background soundscapes. The idea of ‘electroacoustic ambient’ music further extends itself to the second track Dreamarena also composed in 1996. However, the ambient sound qualities soon become fainter and more aggressive gestural characteristics begin to color the piece. Insect-like sounds that resemble bits and pieces heard in the first track crawl all over the sonic terrain in Dreamarena and the compositional manipulations what seems like granular synthesis, accentuates the behavior of the tiny digital night-bugs.
Unlike the first two pieces, Study in Ink (1997) and Foil-Counterfoil (1997) use close-miking techniques to capture recognizable real-life sounds as a means to an end - to bring out concealed sonic layers of the recordings. The main starting sound in Foil-Counterfoil is not surprisingly tin foil. Mr. Moore uses the idea of ‘re-hearing’ the tin foil through the investigations of sonic features from other sources such as glasses, balloons, and bottles. In other words, the ‘counterfoil objects’ or the tin foil’s ‘opponents’ (bottles, glasses, etc.) serve as a means to reveal hidden sonic features of the tin foil itself. The low-level timbral feature extraction exercises in deconstructing the multidimensional make-up of the tin foil through seemingly unconnected sound objects and the highlighting of sonic intersections between the tin foil and unrelated sounds exemplifies Foil-Counterfoil. The listener is invited to hear and trace common sonic nodes, intersecting junctions, and acoustic overlaps between distantly related sound objects that he or she would not normally even try to link together. Study in Ink is similar to Foil-Counterfoil in that it deals with exposing different sound layers - comparing, relating, referencing, and incorporating it to other unrelated sound objects. However, in Study in Ink the composer uses the recording of a single marker pen only and transforms it into a variety of new sounds. Compositions based on single sound sources are of course not new - one of the earliest pieces being Pierre Henry’s Variations pour une porte et un soupir (1963). However, Adrian Moore takes the idea to a much higher dimension and sculpts the simple yet idiosyncratic sound object into a plethora of surprising, humorous, and musical objects. One is constantly surprised at the local sonic stops that are made until the piece reaches its final destination after 10 minutes and 22 seconds. For example, at one point the marker pen transforms into various types of quasi-birds, sheep, and insects. At another point in the piece the composer further stretches the spectral and temporal boundaries of the pen and places the listener in a virtual jungle with all its sonic and spatial intricacies. Yet in another moment, perhaps as homage to Pierre Henry, a door creaking gesture is made and at approximately 2’33” into the piece a quasi-human voice sighs out of the blue - somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Varèse’s sudden injection of a sighing female voice in Poème électronique (1958). But the vague similarity with Varèse’s piece only lasts for a very short moment as the quasi-human voice morphs into what seems to resemble a howling beast in the mountains of Transylvania?
Without a doubt Traces features an abundance of densely-populated aural soundscapes that bring about countless savoring moments of musicality, humor, surprise, and strategic placement of sound objects in time, keeping the listener extremely busy until the very last sound byte is spun out by the CD player. The meticulously placed sounds in space are also one of the highlights present in all five pieces on Traces. Perhaps his experience with the BEAST (Birmingham Electro Acoustic Sound Theatre) system inclined him to give particular importance to the spatial aspect of composition in this CD. Of all the interesting moments in the pieces however, possibly due to the unexpected contrast, one of the most beautiful moments on this whole CD is a dry and fleeting silent sector at the beginning of the last track.
There can be little doubt that the electroacoustic medium makes a major contribution to the range of styles and genres of British contemporary music. British-based electroacoustic composers enjoy considerable success in international competitions and regularly receive both commissions as well as invitations to work in foreign studios. Unlike our European neighbors, there are no major centers comparable to the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), the Institute of Sonology, or the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM). However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage, as several excellent universities provide both the musical and intellectual environments in which electroacoustic music can be studied at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It is particularly encouraging to note the many young composers who choose to travel to Britain specifically for this purpose. Britain, therefore, has a rich tradition (insofar as a new medium can have a “tradition”) of electroacoustic music. Pioneers such as Tristram Cary, Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, or Maddalena Fagandini have often been overshadowed by their more illustrious counterparts in France and Germany; their activities are only now being given the serious attention they truly deserve. Despite this level of activity there is little evidence of a “school” of British electroacoustic music, and most composers can be situated without undue difficulty within the various strands of European music. Consequently, while it would be simplistic to claim that Denis Smalley, Jonty Harrison, and Adrian Moore constitute a British “school,” they do, nevertheless, accurately represent many of the preoccupations of electroacoustic composers in this country. For example, all three are committed to the public presentation of electroacoustic music — the composition of acousmatic music is central to each composer’s output. Mr. Smalley has championed the practice of diffusion as a vital aspect of electroacoustic music performance since 1976, thereby re-introducing aspects of performance practice to acousmatic concerts. Similarly, as director of BEAST (the Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre), Mr. Harrison has been involved in the development of a fiexible system for sound diffusion unrivalled in Britain. Mr. Moore is also actively involved in many areas of performance with technology. Lastly, each is an academic which, although not a prerequisite for electroacoustic composers, does emphasize the role played by higher education in disseminating acousmatic music in Britain.
The compositions on Denis Smalley’s Sources/scènes span 26 years (a remarkable feat in itself). His work and aesthetic falls within a broadly Schaefferian tradition and his own extensive writings deal with the materials, techniques, and aesthetics of electroacoustic music. The Schaefferian framework has been extensively elaborated and Mr. Smalley’s own concepts such as “surrogacy” and “indicative fields and networks” now provide composers, analysts, and musicologists with terminology inherently derived from the medium. This has facilitated both an understanding not only of electroacoustic music but also of its relationship to music in general. In other words: a true electroacoustic musicology. Pierre Schaeffer wrote: “It is the object which has something to say to us, if we know how to make it speak and to assemble it according to the kinship of its families and the similarity of its characteristics” (Chion/Reibel 1976, 57). I believe there are connections between French symbolism and many of Schaeffer’s theories; in Mr. Smalley’s works the sounds (whether recognizable or not) suggest correspondences as “things begin to talk amongst themselves” (Ibid., 47). The first track, Base Metals (2000), exhibits the hallmarks of Mr. Smalley’s language. His affection for attack-resonance sounds is evident (all the source sounds derive from recordings of metal sculptures by Derek Shiel) as is his ability to intervene in their resonances, to extend and develop them into objects of dynamic and spectral interest. Individual nodal components are isolated and given momentum and the energetic processes of sounds are delicately uncovered to reveal hidden textures and transformations. Initially, I found Empty Vessels (1997) the greatest challenge to my expectations. I first heard it during a concert at City University and the real-world sounds recorded from within large earthenware pots in the composer’s North London garden seemed a relatively unmediated documentation of an urban soundscape. However, thanks to this recording, I have heard the work many times and now can begin to appreciate the different acoustic environments through which the listener is taken. The subtle characteristics of the natural sounds are placed in carefully created acoustic spaces thus encouraging an interaction between the confined space of the vessels, the spaciousness of the outside environment, and large but enclosed reverberant spaces. This “play” of acoustic environments inhabited by intimate sounds produced by insects and rain, or smooth and distant ones like airplanes, is possible, of course, only in the electroacoustic medium. I hope to hear Empty Vessels again in the context of a diffused performance where the space of the venue can also participate in these relationships. It is difficult to remain oblivious to the manner in which space is articulated by sound in the real world after having heard it used in this way. This is a composition which transforms how we hear. For many enthusiasts of electroacoustic music, neither Pentes (1974) nor Tides (1984), the remaining tracks on the CD, need any introduction. Mr. Smalley’s control of fine detail and his unerring ear for directing both spectral and dynamic movement ensure that each work engages the listener. The behavior of water — both visual and aural — has long fascinated composers. There is consistency and yet constant variation. According to the composer’s liner notes, Tides was his first work in which source material was transformed by computer. There are two sections, each with distinct characteristics. The “pools” of Pools and Currents, for example, suggest connected sonic areas with individual characteristics of textural play. The water sounds acquire harmonic and gritty characteristicswhich are contrasted with “currents” propelling the music forward in fiuctuating waves of movement and rest. The final track, Pentes, is without doubt a classic of acousmatic music. The source material is mainly transformed instrumental sounds. After some minutes, the significance of the underlying drone becomes clear as a traditional melody, played on beautiful, reedy Northumbrian Pipes, makes a brief and unforgettable appearance.
The period of Jonty Harrison’s work is only slightly shorter than Mr. Smalley’s, stretching over 17 years. Mr. Harrison’s musical languages range from one based on abstracting features from sound objects to the use of sounds whose origins are often obvious and which inevitably imply cultural (and personal) meanings. As he remarks in the liner notes, his work includes the approaches of (Pierre) Schaeffer and (R Murray) Schafer. Klang (1982), like Pentes, has justifiably acquired the status of a classic acousmatic work. The discovery of the resonant properties of two earthenware casserole dishes owned by Mr. Smalley is the point of departure for the work (a detailed knowledge of a fellow composer’s kitchen-ware is one advantage of living in a relatively small country!). As the composer writes, “Klang… is the German for ‘sound’.” In addition to the onomatopoeic characteristics of the word in English it is worth adding that “Klang” in the original German usually implies some harmonic content and musical intention. It was also one of the basic elements of the Cologne studio and can be translated as “note” to differentiate it from the word “Ton.” (Along with “Schall” and “Geraüsch,” German seems to have a richer vocabulary in its number of words relating to “sound” than English does.) However, harmonic qualities are not the only ones exploited by Mr. Harrison. There are also brittle, fricative sound objects which possess their own energetic momentum. As a result, the resonant characteristics of an apparently mundane utensil are promoted to elements of a musical composition. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that poetry “strips the veil of familiarity from the world.” In a similar way, Klang alerts us to the fragile beauty of everyday sounds and their transformations. A common, and natural, progression for electroacoustic composers is to provide sound for installations. Track 3, Sorties (1995), originates in such a work. It contains abstract sounds as well as those heard in urban environments. Footsteps or the sounds of modes of transport such as trains and traffic suggest movement from one place to another but with little sense of arrival or repose. The action of travel is chronicled but we are left as temporary visitors to these sonic landscapes. The occasional presence of more abstract sounds, which are not developed for their own intrinsic properties, does little to stabilize the sense of unease. We hear rain and storms, footsteps on loose gravel (hardly a material for surreptitious arrival or departure), and despite a calming “pastoral” interlude with buzzing insects, birds, and what sounds like children playing, a feeling of gloomy restlessness prevails. Surface Tension (1996) exploits a dry, fricative sound vocabulary. The sources are sounds from packing materials, and in such unprepossessing physical objects Mr. Harrison once again encourages us to listen so that his sound objects “reveal ‘beauty’ in what is normally thrown away.” Often monophonic and sparsely textured, the fractured energies burst into individual trajectories. The sounds seem to express the frantic behavior of capitalist frenzy: buy a product, tear away the packing, and don’t consider where it came from or where it goes. Like the constant deferral of arrival in Sorties, it is in the process of unpacking and manipulating material that music is discovered. (This is, of course, a personal and highly speculative, if not fanciful, interpretation!) The fourth track, Splintering (1997), also reveals an equally carefully constructed series of transparent textures. However, the source materials in this track are the more resonant sounds of wood. As Mr. Harrison asserts, wood is “organic, ” and the sounds often retain that quality. The composer also plays on the concept of the “wood” as the place deep in our imagination where mysterious things can happen. Thus, he uses the sound metonymically to represent and evoke a whole range of connections — mythical, social, and environmental — with this one sonic symbol. The final work on this CD, Streams (1999), is a stereo version of a composition originally in 8-channel format. Once again, the vocabulary extends beyond the immediate musical contexts and natural processes of “evaporation, clouds and rainfall.” Individual lines merge and divide and water becomes inseparable from its spatial setting—enclosed and resonant, or open with spacious acoustic properties.
Adrian Moore’s works stem from 1994 to 1997. He is the youngest of the three and generously acknowledges his debt to the preceding composers. His first encounter with electroacoustic music was at a concert given by Mr. Smalley and as a postgraduate student he studied with Mr. Harrison and also worked with BEAST. Junky (1996), is described by the composer in the liner notes as “electroacoustic ambient,” although I feel the description of the work as “ambient” is somewhat disingenuous. The opening and closing sections contain slowly evolving harmonies but the variety of interjecting sound objects ensure the piece never descends into New Age navel-gazing. The second track, Dreamarena (1996), makes use of similar sound material, but the rhythmic patterns of Junky are replaced by a more amorphous structure punctuated by gestures which are either dry or reverberant. The third composition is, for me, the most successful. Study in Ink (1997) is a virtuosic demonstration of a sound whose potential is discovered by accident but is then exploited by a carefully controlled series of gestures and juxtapositions. This aesthetic is, of course, a recognizably French attitude toward acousmatic music (in the early 1990s Mr. Moore spent time in Lyon, France). The squeaking of a marker pen on a white board (the sole source for the composition) is extended and magnified with arching melodic profiles to build a repository of sound objects. Short sections of erratic movements trace complex trajectories through pitch-space. With track 4 we move from the single sound source to multiple sources (though precise identification is neither needed nor intended). Foil-Counterfoil (1997) employs closely recorded tin foil, bottles, and balloons. As in the previous work these source sounds are transformed into restless chains of objects, harmonic in content, grainy, fractured—they ensure we are rarely left in repose as our ears constantly seek for connections. The final work is Sieve (1994– 1995), the earliest on the CD. Sieve (a “radiogenic” work, according to the composer) uses electronically manipulated natural sounds. Mr. Moore asserts that by removing certain sections of the sound precise identification can be compromised. The listener begins actively to seek for recognition and occasionally realizes that only when sufficient time is allowed can any accurate recognition be attempted. Even then security is not assured and the sound object slips from our mental grasp and veers off to assume a new identity.
These three discs are excellent examples of the current state of electroacoustic composition in Great Britain and are welcome additions to the catalog of the empreintes DIGITALes label. The variety of tracks on each CD reflect the diversity of the composers’ languages and the consistent quality of their output. I recommend them highly.
Electroacoustic sounds are the main theme in all the 5 compositions on this CD. The various sound sources makes the small variety in the compositions. Track 1 was made of some sound sources which were processed. It creates an electric sound in an ambient atmosphere. The atmosphere is important in this composition. In a first part the music is slow in a second part the pitch of the sounds are faster which highlights the rhythms. It ends in a combination of both parts. The atmosphere continuous in track 2 Dreamarena this composition creates a more dramatic atmosphere where sounds can fade away and a set of sounds are able to create a disturbing feeling. The composition creates mixed emotions with moments of relaxation and tension. Track 3 Study in Ink is the recording of sounds which a marker pen makes on a white board. Also this composition creates an atmosphere of relaxation and tension. With the returning high sounds of the marker pen on the board when pressure on the pen is high or low. Adrian Moore shows in all compositions that he is a master in adapting the sound sources which creates a high level of computerized music. In track 4 Foil-Counterfoil, foil is used as instrumental material for the composition. Recorded very close to the microphone so that the little sounds it makes can be captured and used for the sounds. The form of this composition is the same as the early ones. Also in his last composition he continues with the adaptation of sounds for the creation of an atmosphere of relaxation and tension. Here natural and street sounds are the recorded material. Sometimes used as they are, which slowly are transformed into electracoustic sounds or combined with adapted sound sources. This CD shows us that with a few simple sounds as those created with a marker pen, a high level musician should be able to use it for creating musical sounds.
The music on this CD falls into three categories: the abstract (Junky, Dreamarena), hearing natural sounds in a different context (Study in Ink, Foil-Counterfoil), and electronic manipulation of natural sounds (Sieve). Traces is difficult music. The abstract pieces present glimpses of other music and sound sources through a fog of electronic pops and gurgles. The pieces using sounds in new and different contexts can be quite frightening. The sonic textures are organic and evoke images of crunching bones and tearing flesh. Sieve is a total distortion of the source material leaving the listener lost in space without a point of reference. Traces is music for only the most adventuresome of listeners.
Près d’une génération sépare ces deux compositeurs britanniques de musiques électroacoustiques. Adrian Moore fut d’ailleurs l’éléve du premier. Tous deux œuvrent toutefois dans la tradition du GRM, travaillent la matière sonore à partir de sources diverses et concrétes: le bois, les casseroles en terre, l’élément aquatique ou gazeux, déchets divers pour le premier, le crayon-feutre sur un tableau, la feuille d’étain, les verres, les ballons… pour le second. Les approches n’en sont toutefois pas identiques, malgré les points de rencontre. Jonty Harrison semble privilégier une approche plus narrative des sons, plus expressive dans son traitement du son originel. Il introduit en fait un élément de composition plus nettement repérable pour l’auditeur profane, d’autant plus qu’il travaille sur des sons du quotidien auxquels en général on ne préte que peu d’attention, telle la symphonie cuisinière de Klang.
Adrian Moore met plutôt l’accent sur l’abstraction et l’intériorisation des phénomènes acoustiques, créant ainsi des plages quelque peu spatiales (les deux premières pièces), perturbées cependant par des inserts plus dramatiques, avant de s’attaquer à l’étude du grincement d’un feutre sur un tableau, expérience qui pourra ravir tout éléve non intéressé par les propos de son professeur et qu’il subit déjà de manière plus brute dans sa somnolence inattentive. La dernière pièce Sieve différe toutefois des autres plus dense, plus complexe, elle recèle aussi des sons plus aisément reconnaissables et dans ce sens plus proche des travaux de Jonty Harrison.
This guy’s got a great sense of humour! All the squeaks and wails in the opening Junky remind me of that Monty Python sketch with the ‘mouse organ,’ and then we have all sorts of tumbling tubes and jangling plucks, as the whole sound canvas trips over itself. It keeps up like this, in various guises, and is constantly surprising. Adrian’s art is refined and so creative that it defies simple definition, as he twists sound and froths it up. He has this knack of luring the listener in, only to surprise and startle with unexpected trips and twirls, along with bizarre ring-modulations and tonality twists that defy simple description. Fascinating.
Ein Quell der ungewöhnlichen Sounderlebnisse ist das kanadische Label empreintes DIGITALes, welches fernab reißerischer Methoden in fast wissenschaftlicher Akribie eine Serie mit elektroakustischer Musik von preisgekrönten Komponisten herausgibt. Alle vier CDs stammen von relativ jungen, in der Grauzone zwischen freier Improvisation und akademischer Komposition operierenden Künstlern. Die Klänge sind oft nach kompositorischen Gesichtspunkten einander einverlebt, bleiben aber wild und jederzeit überraschend. So kann man sich hier bedienen nach Herzenslust. Vielleicht etwas schnöde klingt Traces von Adrian Moore. Hier hört man zu oft die surrenden, schmachtenden Sauglaute eines Computers, der die reale Welt in sich aufnimmt und „Musik” herausspuckt. Clonky, aber eben auf ernste Weise; können auch Matthew Ostrowsti und andere. Grandios ist das Werk von Jonty Harrison, dem Leiter des elektroakustischen Instituts in Birmingham. Seine Sammlung von Stükken (fast alle um die 15 Minuten lang) verbindet befremdliche Geräusche mit Klängen derAußenwelt, ohne letztere als reine Projektionsfläche zu verwenden. Die Töne aus den verschiedenen Sphären interagieren und treten in eine Kommunikation. Stark! Die klanglichen Extreme in diesem Viererpack stammen von Denis Smalley. Er bricht mit den Konventionen der Akademika, wonach Töne zwar schräg und abstrakt ausstaffiert sein dürfen, aber bitteschön nicht stören sollen. Sein Werk scheut sich nicht vor häßlichen Momenten, harschen Brüchen und fast industriellem Lärm. Dabei bleibt alles dunkel wie das geheimnisvolle Cover der CD. Louis Dufort wirkt in seinen Stücken wie jemand, der die Regeln des Genres kennt und sie mit genauem Gehör exekutieren will, um hinter ihnen liegendes Potential zu erhellen. Die gelingt ihm am trefflichsten in der Komposition Zénith, die mit pochenden Tönen arbeitet, die sich gegen schrille aber auch flirrend-weichzeichnende Atmosphären behaupten müssen.
A further dose of sonic experimentation is dumped on us by Adrian Moore, who formed his avant garde electroacustic mind at schools in Nottingham and London, and presently lectures music at the University of Sheffield. So much for the academic side and let’s come to the facts. Just as avoiding to mislead some of you, electroacustic here is intended as acoustic sound sources processed electronically, much the food of many avantgardists. One stunning example on this CD is Study in Ink, 10-minute worth of sonic madness generated with the single sound of a marker on a whiteboard! The level of abstraction in Traces is quite high, especially in Dreamarena, while Sieve propose a sort of psycho-collage of sounds you could get around you in everyday life. The opening Junky bears traits of musical structure, electing it as the most accessible track on the disc, whose ambient fell throughtout makes it appetising for more “classic minded” experimentalist.
A student of Jonty Harrison, the British electroacoustic composer Adrian Moore inherited his mentor’s sense of movement, while pushing further his sound poetry. Traces collects five works created between 1994 and 1997. Junky and Dreamarena could be described as “ambient electroacoustics.” Sound sources have been stripped from their context and sculpted into tonal and rhythmical structures. The first piece could almost be mistaken for an ambient synthesizer piece, while the second one shovels sounds back and forth between the listener’s ears, creating dreamy ever-changing soundscapes. Study in Ink and Foil-Counterfoil are both built on one main sound source. The first one uses a marker pen on a whiteboard. Both funny and puzzling, it has an interesting “squeaky” quality. The second, based on recordings of tin foil, is more conventional and mechanical. The closing piece, Sieve, is described by the composer as a “radiogenic work”: natural (as in “real world”) sounds are heard accompanied by their electronic manipulations. The large number of sound sources used and the constant analysis the listener must do to relate them to their manipulated counterparts make for a busy, rich, exhausting work. This one is very impressive, resists to multiple listens, and serves as a perfect closer, leaving an impression of fulfilling creativity which radiates on the whole album. If one puts Foil-Counterfoil aside, Traces becomes one very strong musique concrète CD. Recommended.
Ayant trouvé sa voie alors qu’il assistait à un concert de Denis Smalley, Adrian Moore a été l’élève de Jonty Harrison. Nous avons pu goûter son très grand talent pour la diffusion sonore lors de son passage à Montréal, au début avril, pour la neuvième édition de la série Rien à voir. On serait tenté ici de dire ici que l’élève dépasse ses maîtres. Ceux qui veulent comprendre les possibilités musicales qu’offre l’électroacoustique seraient avisés d’écouter sa pièce Study in Ink, où la seule source sonore est le frottement d’un crayon feutre sur un tableux blanc. Le genre d’étude qui n’exclut pas l’humour. Very British indeed!
For Adrian Moore the microphone is a microscope. He takes us to the minuscule “trace,” collaged together in an otherworldly patchwork for our exploration. Natural, commonplace sound objects become abstract art run through the Moore mind and studio. The sound of a marker pen is the sole source used for Study in Ink. But, after the transformation this simple act undergoes an apotheosis to the chirping of birds at play in imagined, digital worlds. (3,5/5)
Elektroakustik sagen die Einen, Ambient die Anderen. Schwammige Begriffe, die aber doch das Spektrum des kanadischen Labels empreintes DIGITALes gut beschreiben. Verzeiht uns die Schubladen.
Wenn ich die Gemeinsamkeiten, oder besser die Parallelen der mir vorliegenden Veröffentlichungen auf empreintes DIGITALes beschreiben müsste, so könnte das mit der Umschreibung »Walk In The Park« eventuell gelingen. Gemeint ist damit der Verweis auf Brian Enos Parkbank-Aufnahmesessions, in denen dieser nicht unbekannte Vertreter der sogenannten Ambientmusik – unter welchem Aspekt hier Ambient beleuchtet wird, sei der Unvollständigkeit halber mal ausgelassen – Ausschnitte aus dem täglichen Treiben im Central Park mit seinem Aufnahmegerät konservierte und einer nachträglichen Studie unterzog, in deren Verlauf er jeder Klangprobe einen Wiedererkennungswert abringen konnte.
Bei Louis Dufort und Denis Smalley werden Bahnhöfe, Industrieanlagen und Flugplatzeinflugschneisen in den Klangraum aufgenommen bzw. dieser um jene Komponenten erweitert. Dieses konkrete Material wird aber nicht nur in zitathaften Einsätzen einem musikalischen Prozess zugeführt, sondern aus seinem ursprünglichen Rahmen herausgerissen, um mehr oder weniger manipuliert und veredelt in die Chronologie der aufgezeichneten Geschehnisse rückgeführt zu werden. Daraus ergeben sich abgeschlossene Klangreisen mit durchaus vertrauten Spannungsbögen – man stelle sich etwa eine spätnächtliche U-Bahnfahrt vom Wiener Stephansplatz mit Linienwechsel nach Floridsdorf vor –, die ein passives Hören (Klangtapete) sehr gut abblocken können.
Kompositorisch strenger und vielleicht auch arithmetischer gehen die Labelkollegen Adrian Moore und Jonty Harrison mit ihrem elektroakustischen Hantieren vor. Der 32-jährige Moore, ehemaliger Student bei Jonty Harrison an der Universität von Birmingham, gliedert seine Werke auf»Traces«grob in drei Klassen: »those verging towards the abstract«, »those focusing upon re-hearing natural sound-objects« –»Study in Ink«ist das Ergebnis einer musikalischen Studie eines Markerstiftes auf einer Tafel und die Auswirkungen des Austrocknens dieses Stiftes auf dessen Klangverhalten – und »the radiogenic«. Letztgenannter Kategorie weist Moore sein Stück»Sieve«zu, in dem er das eingesetzte Material von Information, Sound und Bedeutung in Bezug auf den Verwendungszweck zu entkoppeln versucht. »If one forces listening at the wrong moment, the clarity of the listening experience changes and something ‘musical’ can sometimes be heard”. Auch bei Jonty Harrisons»Évidence matérielle«steht der Interpretationsfreiraum für den Hörer in einem interessanten Verhältnis zu den vom Musiker intentierten Assoziationsketten. Manche Passagen klingen nach Herumirren auf Straßen zur Rushhour, aus unterschiedlichen Positionen betrachtet. Hinter den Kulissen schöpft Harrison jedoch aus einem umfangreichen Fundus an Tools, etwa aus Holz und Metall im Spannungsfeld zu rein elektronischem Instrumentarium.
Dieses gekonnte Reduzieren auf die akustischen Ereignisse an sich und das damit einhergehende Fördern und Fordern des Hörens macht das mittlerweile elf Jahre alte Label empreintes DIGITALes zu einer wichtigen Plattform für zeitgenössische Elektroakustik.
Je vous ai parlé, en d’autres circonstances (celles de la critique de concert), de l’art de compositeur et de diffuseur d’Adrian Moore. Voici l’occasion d’en retrouver des parcelles. Attention: les œuvres sont entières sur ce disque, toujours aussi magnifiques, où l’électroacoustique se déploie dans l’espace - ce qui vous demande d’user d’une bonne chaîne stéréo et d’avoir des voisins qui toléreront le fait que vous vous éclatiez à un assez bon volume. Je le souligne car en ce cas c’est important: nous ne sommes pas en face d’un art de décoration à la CJPX ou de sourdine.
Du vrai! Le titre du disque l’énonce clairement: Traces, et, auditeur, on se doit de suivre le compositeur dans la polysémie de l’itinéraire proposé. Vous croyez être rébarbatif à cette «musique du bruit»? Imposez-vous cette écoute. Ô, tout n’y est pas génial, le pire reste de l’ordre de l’excellent. Vous vous demandez ce qu’est le talent? Écoutez. La musique parle. Mieux, et peu importe ici les convictions esthétiques ou théoriques, elle est. Quand le disque nous offre la chance de prendre contact (ou de reprendre contact) avec un compositeur de premier plan, on se précipite.
Il faut convenir que ces œuvres-là ne décoreront pas vos soupers ni ne seront le prélude à des ébats sentimentaux, comme elles n’accompagneront pas vos temps morts. Ici, que des temps pleins, pleins de la force si unique de la conviction qu’on s’arrête, qu’on arrête tout, pour écouter.
En plus, la reproduction sur les deux canaux stéréophoniques est fascinante. Le son bouge, ça c’est relativement facile à faire avec la maîtrise de la monophonie dirigée, et fait prendre conscience de cette dimension si spéciale à Adrian Moore: l’espace. Donc, hors de l’anecdote du mouvement, il respire. Et nous avec lui!
Osez passer outre à vos appréhensions: chaque pièce ne dure même pas un quart d’heure. Dérangement, fascination, questionnement, ravissement, voilà le programme. Je vous évite la glose intellectuelle: quand la musique est belle à ce point, il ne faut faire qu’une seule chose: l’écouter avec attention. Cela vous réconciliera avec bien des recoins de votre psyché.
Wiedergehörte Naturgeräusche sind ein wesentlicher Bestandteil der Audioarbeit des Hochschullehrers (Sheffield University) Adrian Moore. Eine rein akademisch ge-prägtes Soundscapeding ist trotzdem nicht zu enwrarten. Der Zutritt zum Werk erfordert einiges an Toleranz, denn es ist nicht jedermanns Sache, vor den Boxen zu sitzen und nur knarzende Geräusche natürlichen Geräuschen (Tierlaute, Vogelstimmen, Glocken, Straßenverkehr), die Moore elektronisch durch ein Sieb schickte und aus dem neuen Material eine Klangcollage intensivster Masse machte. Er selbst bezeichnet dieses Stück als einen Vorschlag: Damit umgehen und Rückschlüsse ziehen sollte der Hörer selbst.
In what is referred to collectively as the British Connection, empreintes DIGITALes recently released these three discs featuring the works of three prominent electroacoustic composers from the UK. […] Adrian Moore’s Traces, documenting five electroacoustic compositions realised between 1994 and 1997, offers “a search for the hidden, both within the piece and within the sound”. In his liner notes, Moore rightly points out that “it is this hidden property in certain sounds that still excites the ear”. And so in each of these five pieces Moore dives right into his sound sources and opens them up for our perception and participation. In Study in Ink, for example, Moore takes his single sound source of a marker on whiteboard and creates a remarkable soundworld, filling me with wonder at his electroacoustic magic. In another example of Moore’s sonic ingenuity, Sieve is a “radiogenic” work dealing with natural sounds and the electronic manipulation of these sounds; all manner of found sounds (bird calls, rainfall, etc.), become a part of this hyper-collage, which is teeming with activity and minute noises. Excellent work, and an overall intriguing record.
Eine echte Überraschung stellt für mich dieser Adrian Moore dar. Er studierte Musik und engagiert sich seit Jahren in Einrichtungen verschiedener Universitäten. So ist er unter anderem Direktor des Sound Studios Sheffield und komponiert seit geraumer Zeit elektronische Musik. Mit dieser Beschreibung kann man ihm aber nur bedingt gerecht werden, denn seine Arbeiten sind von besonderer Qualität, und lassen sich mit dem professionellen Stil von Coil und Robert Rich vergleichen. Auf Traces befinden sich fünf Soundscapes die es wahrhaft in sich haben. Selten habe ich so vielschichtige und gleichzeitig wohl aufeinander abgestimmte Klanglandschaften vernommen, die selbst abgebrühte Kenner des Genres hellauf begeistern können. Das Album ist mit seinen fünf Tracks in drei Bereiche eingeteilt: abstrakte Soundquellen, Wiederentdecken natürlicher Klangobjekte und elektronische Manipulation natürlicher Geräusche. Die einzelnen Sektionen fließen spielerisch ineinander und fügen sich zu einer abwechslungsreichen Veröffentlichung voller Energie und Esprit. Eine perfekte Synthese, organisch, zugleich abstrakt und einfach nur genial!
There is a new sophistication apparent in the brand new scoop of electroacoustics coming out of Britain — and from elsewhere too… That is plain to hear on a series of new releases from Canadian guru label empreintes DIGITALes, featuring three British sound wizards with already very famous names. This time we listen to Adrian Moore’s CD Traces.
The sophistication reveals itself in that it now clearly is composition and absolutely nothing else that kicks electronic ventures sky high! A few years ago I was worried that all the new, easily obtained machinery and software would dilute the traditionally highly intoxicating electroacoustic beverage, which it also did, momentarily, but these days my worries are gone, blown away by some of the best stuff I’ve heard in decades from the shamans of electroacoustics.
This means that the guys and dolls who mistook the machinery for the art now either have learned their lesson, or left the stage… The CDs I’ve received in recent months from labels in Sweden, France, Russia, Romania, Holland, Canada and other countries prove to be excellent productions. These artists master their software and hardware to such a degree that no machinery in the world can get in between them and the end result: the sounding work of art. These people are composers — again! — with compositional skills. The detour through the junkyards of binary tools is over. We’re back in business, and the composers are composers again. They are electroacoustic composers, using their machines and gadgets, but the driving force is imagination and visionary thinking — and intuition! — paired with an edgy compositional skill; and so the machines can be wonderful tools. This is what has happened as this sophistication has set in, and here we are with some highly tremendous stuff.
Adrian Moore is one of these sophisticated wizards, balancing his compositional act on an array of hard drives filled with shamanistic software… but he lets his imagination seep down like honey through the imaginary netherworlds of the binaries, and in the process he evolves and refines images and impulses originating in a French tradition projected by people like Jean Schwarz, Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle and others, not least the French-Canadian Maestro Françis Dhomont — and I’m talking about the earlier, analog groundbreaking actions of these guys (they’re still very active!), when they pushed the poetic and fairytale-like sound worlds of their inner visions to the forefront of electroacoustics.
I’m not precisely new to Adrian Moore. I think the first piece I heard of his was Breaking… Glass! (1991), which was broadcast on Swedish radio in 1993, when a program (FIX) specializing in electroacoustic music ran a series on works coming out of the studio of the University of Birmingham (associated with the organization BEAST; The Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre). His Sieve (1994-1995) — presented here — was also originally found on a CD from the 4th Prix International Noroit Leonce-Petitot 1995 de Composition Musicale Acousmatique.
Moore was introduced to electroacoustics at a concert with Denis Smalley in Nottingham. Later he studied with Jonty Harrison, and fate (?) has it that the three CDs with British composers that recently were released by empreintes DIGITALes feature these three sound painters.
The first piece on Moore’s CD is Junky (1996). The sounds are extremely delicate, measured down to the most miniscule fraction of a slice, slashing through space in your senses like samurai swords… After a short while this frantic impression gives way to an otherworldly feeling of austere detachment, complete alienation, as if you were experiencing a spill-over from another dimension — a dimension of the utmost excommunication, as might be experienced by space travelers cut off from Earth by some disaster or other at the shores of foreign worlds… or by a father seeing his children disappear in an ugly divorce, or rather the calm feelings of resigned despair that follows, when you just sort of watch the horrid circumstances like a work of art at a dazed afternoon exhibition or like a movie late one rainy spring… There is a mental “Entfremdung” in the music, like you were hearing it through the locked and barred windows of an insane asylum…
This music could also be a story told about events unimaginable by human Earthlings, tenderly told in this sound language, conveying feelings of something completely lost, like the introverted, calm despair of an alienated existence, extra-dimensional, far beyond the force of binary circuits, far beyond the illusion of Time, wrangling through the mineral world, which is a lonely place without points of reference — like the more frightful stages of the Bardo Thödol — or like a memory long lost in an overwhelming amnesia, in which just the gestures of meaning remain. It’s a very beautiful music…
Dreamarena (1996) is the second entry. This piece too is very imaginative, spatial, inducing all kinds of weird feelings of a kind of alienation, but this time as if you were transferred to a kind of insect perspective… You feel an intense communication going on here, but you can’t tell between what kind of creatures — or if indeed the morphemes that sweep past, back and forth in your listening space, between your temples, are a kind of human communication that you just don’t understand, as if you’ve suffered a stroke and woken up in utter aphasia… The music is frustratingly communicative, but unintelligible to you, though apparently not to the alien intelligences — if they are… — who really do exchange frantic messages right through your brain… You can only sense the bare gestures of communication… or is it a communication beyond language itself? Could it be the thoughts of angels, the thoughts of spirits, that you’re tapping into, breaking all the laws, inducing the wrath of God? You were not supposed to hear… in the same manner that you were not supposed to tap into the core of Existence by tampering with genetic codes… The Tower of Babylon again!
Or could these sounds be sonic representations of the insects’ communication by pheromones, across the vast summer meadows of an eternal June? For sure this communication has a magic quality, a surreal aspect, in the same way that the world would look very different if we suddenly could perceive other wavelengths of light than the limited spectra we usually can see.
Study in Ink (1997) is a completely delightful little obsession! Adrian Moore has reached down into his pocket and got his whiteboard marker pen out, indispensable to anybody having to make presentations to boards of trustees or any other congregation of the 21st century… He uses the sounds the marker makes on the whiteboard in such imaginative ways that you can’t but smile… This singular-origin-sound business sometimes can be really elating, as in the case of Jonty Harrison’s Hot Air (1995) — also on empreintes DIGITALes; IMED 9627; Harrison’s first release on the label — in which a great deal of the sounding result stems from children’s balloons, or like in the very classical case of Pierre Henry’s rusty barn door in Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir (1963). Adrian Moore develops his sampling and manipulation of this darn marker pen’s frictional passages across the whiteboard to the extent that the sounds revealed push your associations in the direction of David Dunn’s magnificent hydrophonic recordings of the intricate sounds of underwater insects of North American and African freshwater ponds; Chaos & the Emergent Mind of the Pond (What Next WN 009). It’s amazing how much these completely different approaches — hydrophones in African ponds versus marker pens on British whiteboards — can resemble each other! The adventure is endless!
Foil-Counterfoil (1997) involves — of course — tin foil, closely recorded to reveal hidden sounds, but also utilizes the sounds of glasses, bottles, balloons etcetera. The effect is dizzying at times, in its innovative, controlled madness, where Moore has to use all his power of will not to go completely berserk in the sonic shop of his mind! You name it, we like it! Moore’s music involves so many qualities, but movement — the spatial aspect — is always very apparent, as is an uncanny feel for alien beauty and ominous auditive backdrops, in a therapeutical kind of fashion, as if you were present at the core of a schizophrenia session with Ronald D Laing or a spirit-on-reel-to-reel meeting with almost forgotten Friedrich Jürgenson.
The last piece is Sieve (1994-1995). This is the only piece on this set with a more obvious musique concrète leaning, since you can readily identify some sounds that — to begin with — are un-altered. The piece is very French, just picking up somewhere in the acousmatic tradition and taking it a bit further still. It is a wonderfully varied piece; a sort of variation on the moment, or variations on moments of reality, wrenched out of their natural passage-ways of causality, into the workshop of Adrian Moore, where the stolen moments are handled with binary pliers and deformed and re-shaped into lucid building-blocks for the composer’s almost metaphysical creation; Sieve .
Let’s congratulate Adrian Moore! This CD is a remarkable gift to the connoisseurs of contemporary sound-art, and constitutes a lasting contribution to art itself. Wonderful! Adventurous!
Der Maestro höchstpersönlich hat seine Werke in drei Kategorien unterteilt. Die so genannten abstrakten Stücke Junky und Dreamarena sind klassische Elektroakustik mit gepitchten Streichern und ähnlichen Spielereien. Die zwei Tracks der “re-hearing natural sound-objects”-Kategorie beschränken sich dann jeweils auf eine Klangquelle: Study in Ink benutzt einen Textmarker, Foil-Counterfoil eine Folie. Was Moore aus beiden herausholt, ist schierer Wahnsinn, der nur noch vom abschließenden, “radiogenen” Stück Sieve übertroffen wird — einer kakophonen Fülle an abstrakten und konkreten Sounds, aus der der/die ZuhörerIn einzelne heraussieben muss, um überhaupt etwas wahrnehmen zu können und diese Wahrnehmungen zu strukturieren — Alltagshören mit einer Unmenge an Assoziationsmöglichkeiten.
A witty, frothy collection by Adrian Moore, associate of BEAST and student of Jonty Harrison. Study in Ink takes the single sound of a marker pen on whiteboard and develops it amusingly, while Foil-Counterfoil rehears tinfoil recorded with a close microphone. Junky is ‘electroacoustic Ambiant,’ and the album concludes with the ‘radiogenic’ and entertaining Sieve wich overloads information on the listener, forcing him/her to make connections between the different sound sources — vocal, mechanical and environmental.
A first for &etc — two disks from the renowned musique concrète/electroacoustic Québec label, in their unique cardboard constructed boxes. It also presented me with a challenge (which I hope I have achieved): to find a description appropriate to their work. It has struck me in the past when looking at ‘academic’ electroacoustic work (such as Philip Samartzis or some of the Metamkine) that these artists are working in an area which has its own theory and language, recognised across the ICAMs, departments they studied in and competitions that appear to be awarding prizes all the time (4 of the five tracks on Traces received ‘mentions’ or ‘places’). Yet my methodology of reviewing seems to me as even more inadequate than usual — the gestures and changes are so small, precise and rapid that the forest is lost for the pine needles. So I will immerse myself in them and try for a bigger picture. A quote from Moore seems appropriate — one of his tracks “reverts back to more abstract electroacoustic material, shaping form continuously and using gesture as the primary means of communication” which seems a pretty good description to me: and also leans towards some glitch/laptop artists. A great way in for me is Moore’s Study in Ink — as a lecturer I often enjoy dragging out the line of a whiteboard marker if it squeaks, and it seems that Moore noticed the sound as well, and applied his training. This track has one sound source — the marker pen. And what a web he weaves from it: generally you can hear the marker as it makes a gesture, but then the processing comes in to play — long echoed tones, pulsing beats, squeal, groans, trawls and sweeps, together with percussion and voices. There is an almost synaesthesia as you see a trail of movements follow and envelop the pen, sometimes hiding it all together, at others shrinking back into the image. Primarily entertaining, it demonstrates the possibilities available to the sound artist. The following track Foil-Counterfoil uses close-miked tin foil together with glasses, bottles and balloons: the whole thing shimmers and shifts, periods of intense small fragment activity, periods of relative stasis as things bubble away, streaming to the surface. Recognisable sounds shifting to manipulated echoes of themselves or pieces thrown together. A movement possibly discernable in the changes, a fascination in the drama. The first two pieces Junky and Dreamarena are both ‘abstract’ works — described with the quote above. Junky is more structured with “three main sections… and a more detailed structure… in each of the primary sections.” Electronic sounds (processed primary sources taken beyond recognition) play blippy, sqirly games (at times sounding like speech) over a sustained organ tone in the slow section, things speed up in the next section, the drone pulsing and the surface activity becoming denser, and finally an interchange between the two parts. The shifting structure works very nicely, giving an overall feel to the piece. Complex layered and drifting, Dreamarena lives up to its name and has that narrative feel you get from a dream — semirecognisable elements forming structured units which then slide into something else, providing some stability before sending you along new lines. It is not chaotic (in the original sense, though as with many pieces like this the fractal side of chaos science sometimes seems appropriate) but, to quote Robert Fripp (quoting Blake, I think) “resplendent in divergence.” And finally Sieve — a surreal soundscape. Sounds are taken from their natural environs, manipulated and thrown together: bird sounds and passing motors, complex swirling processed sounds, bells and horns layered and echoed against each other, breathing, coughing into a flushing, hubbling voices. The mind tries to extract a narrative, to ‘sieve’ out the main details, but is overwhelmed by the sheer volume; which nonetheless makes a dramatic auditory experience — sheer exhuberance, reflecting the feel of this disk. There is so much activity and all exciting and enticing.
Adrian Moore first came into contact with electroacoustic music in his hometown of Nottingham at a concert given by Denis Smalley. The performance of tape pieces using multiple loudspeakers interested him and his further study under Jonty Harrison at the University of Birmingham offered the opportunity of composing and working with BEAST (Birmingham ElecrtoAcoustic Sound Theatre). He is currently Lecturer in Music at Scheffield Universtiy and he is also a director of Sonic Arts Network, the UK’s national organisation for the promotion of creative use of technology in the composition and performance of music.
The works on this disc fall into three categories: those verging towards the abstract (Junky, Dreamarena), those focusing upon re-hearing natural sound-objects (Study in Ink, Foil-Counterfoil) and the ‘radiogenic’ (Sieve).
Junky and Dreamarena, that part that tensions the abstract, is to describe as ‘electroacoustic ambient, Junky has simple melodic and harmonic structures, Dreamarena is more abstract.
Adrian Moore: “The works on Traces offer a search for the hidden, both within the piece and within the sound. It is this hidden property in certain sounds that still excites the ear. The microphone offers us the chance to examine these hidden qualities, such as the sound of a marker pen on a whiteboard, the sole sound-source used for study in Ink. An everyday sound that could perhaps be described onomatopoeically by the word “squeak” offers surprising versatility when examined through the microphone, extending even to ‘human’ characteristics of strength, weakness, enquiry, frivolity, humour and self-parody.”
Foil-Counterfoil works with different sound sources. Here he has searched also to hidden sounds: he puts the microphone extremely tide to the sound source.
Sieve, is a ‘radiogenic’ work dealing with natural sounds and the electronic manipulations of these sounds. “In Sieve, a huge amount af sonic data is thrown at the listener, who naturally is asked to make sense of it.”
One of the latest releases on empreintes DIGITALes comes once again from a professor working in Great Britain. This times, Adrian Moore from Sheffield presents us five electroacoustic pieces, each one lasting between 10 and 14 minutes and recorded between 1994 and 1997.
Considering the academic nature of this work, Traces is something to be listened to very carefully and also a creation that will be understood more by music students than by anyone else. However, I’d say that these fice tracks are rather easy to enjoy, very melodic and fast evolving. Playing with noises and material from atypical sources (Study in Ink is for example done only with sounds from a pen being used on a plastic board), Adrian Moore has managed to create rhythmic and tonal patterns that can appeal to people into noise or experimental music.
Junky or Foil-Counterfoil, with their seemingly chaotic structures, evoke a very complex and yet coherent ensemble of short tunes and broken rhythms. The whole thing is very subtle, very calm, but is everything but boring. In a way, you can imagine that this is Merzbow on valium and without distortion: an avalanche of small samples that sound unstructured at first and slowly reveal its entire form.
I don’t know if I was able to understand fully the ins and outs of this CD, but Traces is to me a pleasant recording, that don’t forget to be nice to the ear even though it stays very abstract and complicated. A nice surprise overall.
Aus dem Rahmen der üblichen Veröffentlichungen fällt dieses Werk des englischen Elektroakkustikkünstlers Adrian Moore. Weit entfernt von mainstreamigen Klängen bombardiert der mit zahlreichen Trophäen ausgezeichnete Musiklehrer das Gehör mit Samples, elektrischen Schwingungen und verfremdeten Alltagsgeräusche. Was für den einen eine Tortur, kann dennoch für den anderen bei entspannter Atmosphäre eine Reise in neue Klangwelten darstellen. Wenn man erst einmal Zugang zu den anstrengenden Soundspielereien gefunden hat, strotzen die Klangcollagen nur so vor Details und die Erläuterungen im hübschen sowie intelligenten Papschuber lassen verstehen und entdecken. Eine außergewöhnliche Faszination geht hierbei besonders vom dritten Stück aus, wo Moore mit diversen Stiften Klanggemälde auf Papier zeichnet. So vielseitig hatte ich die Buntstifte wirklich nicht in Erinnerung.
Ansonsten stellt die CD ein unheimliches, aber auch unheimlich anstregendes Hörerlebnis dar, mit dem sich sicherlich nur Personen mit dem gewissen Etwas/Ohr anfreunden können. Diese dürfte dann sowohl Klang als auch Optik des Produktes restlos überzeugen…
À force de concevoir des remèdes efficaces dans le traitement de pathologies radiovisuelles aiguës, le label empreintes DIGITALes pourrait bien devenir un des fournisseurs officiels de notre acousmodrome solénoïdal. Dans la nuée de nouveautés que vient d’essaimer le label canadien, se distingue l’album de l’anglais Adrian Moore. Une œuvre concrète, versatile et complexe qui se découpe en trois parties: l’une est dédiée à l’abstraction sonore, l’autre au retraitement de sons naturels d’objets domestiques et la dernière est à connotation «radiogénique» selon les termes de l’artiste. Transformés en véritables capteurs de sons cachés ou insinués, ce sont les microphones qui sont ici à l’honneur. Naviguant entre évocations insolites ou oniriques et digressions autoparodiques, l’auditeur devient le témoin émerveillé d’une exploration chirurgicale et émotionnelle au cœur de la texture sonore…