Last 5 copies! — “Relisten indeed you will.” (The Wire)

The work of Austrian sound artist Bernhard Gal is concerned with the discovery (as opposed to the imposition) of musical structures within the nuances of everyday life. The stammering in the spaces of spoken language, the ubiquitous noise of urban environments, the steady stream of of buzzes and whirrs that are a byproduct of mass transportation, all become subjects examined under Gal’s extraorinarily precise microscope. He explores ideas about time and language, extrapolating and enlarging and repeating the often overlooked details and minutae until their inherent sonic beauty supercedes their typical mundane habitat.

Following last year’s critically acclaimed "Defragmentation/Blue" CD (Plate Lunch, GER), "Relisten" is Gal’s first domestic US album. Each of the six tracks is its own self-contained piece, spurred by some personal association to the composer. However, taken all together, one can travel by sound from New York City (where Gal spent a year’s residency at the Leo Baeck Institute) to the subways of Vienna and beyond. The piece "lv, nv" uses adaptive filters to uncover hidden musical elements always present at a Vegas casino. Another, "Tong-hua yie-shi" could be described as real-time musique concrete, created by walking through a Taiwanese night market equipped with a stereo microphone, DAT, and headphones.

"Relisten operates between the world’s soundscapes and their detachment from context", says Gal. "The personal discovery of music within nature as well as within the routines of everyday life keeps fascinating me. Sometimes I return to a certain place only to record its sound."

"Gal crafts his sound material with deadly precision, using repetition to great effect: "lv, nv" uses sounds recorded in a Las Vegas casino, but the clanging din of the gaming rooms is all but entirely filtered out, leaving only an eerie harmonic shell sporadically peppered with tiny avalanches of slot machine jackpots. It’s as achingly beautiful as the high Nevada desert that surrounds the mad phantom city. "Relisten" indeed you will." -Dan Warburton, The Wire.

"Relisten" is one of Warburton’s selections for the 10 Records Of The Year.

"This release focuses on revealing the inner beauty of selected field recordings… Shows Gal’s commanding talent for sound art. Recommended." -All-Music Guide

"A fascinating meditation on public spaces." -Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etc.

"A more dynamic, imaginative brand of musique concrete. At points, Gal’s pieces are simply creations from the field, snapshots of sound as memory. Frequently, however, the composer manipulates and layers these recordings to create something quite apart from the initial experience." -Paul Lemos, Under the Volcano

"This is my first introduction to the work of Gal, and it is a pleasure. It undermines the obvious and brings to light more or less hidden structures and music in everyday life. As a whole this is a very varied CD with a lot of angles, but all of them taken well care of. Recommended." -Vital Weekly

  • Composer(s): Gal

CD (INT 018)

On the web

In the press

Sounds Around: Field Recordings in Electroacoustics

David Turgeon, electrocd.com, June 1, 2003

Field recordings have always fascinated electroacoustic composers, ever since Pierre Schaeffer’s Cinq études de bruits (1948), featuring processed train sounds. With R Murray Schafer’s Vancouver Soundscape 1973 (1972-73), these everyday sounds are articulated around a discourse which will be termed “sound ecology,” whereby sounds keep their original meaning, and no longer serve as anecdotic content to be used and abused at the composer’s whim. Jonty Harrison synthesises these two approaches in his short text {cnotice:imed_0052-0001/About Évidence matérielle/cnotice}.

Actually, every composer seems to have their own unique approach towards field recordings. If sound ecology has seen the burgeoning of microphone artists such as Claude Schryer and of course Hildegard Westerkamp and her famous {cpiste:imed_9631-1.3/Kits Beach Soundwalk/cpiste} (1989), sound travels such as French duo Kristoff K Roll’s CD Corazón Road (1993) are, in this respect, closer to the art of documentary film. Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based composer Jon Hudak starts off with an extremely minimalist palette so as to seek out the “essence” of sounds, which, to the listener, translate into soft, dreamy soundscapes. A student of the aforementioned Jonty Harrison, Natasha Barrett conceives beautiful landscapes of sounds with very discreet field recordings, that retain an aesthetic likeness to the acousmatic tradition.

Many young composers settle into this landscape (of sound…) and their work is of such interest to us, it would be a shame not to let them be heard. We shall first mention the California-based V. V. (real name Ven Voisey), who organises his found sounds into an architecture reminescent of “old school” musique concrète—doing so, he uncovers a previously unheard aesthetic affinity between Schaeffer and Merzbow… With Relisten, Austrian composer Bernhard Gal guides us through his carefully selected episodes of “found musics” (that is, musical structures that preexist within the environment.) Finally, because of its numerous ideas and its incredible pacing, the surprising flume ridge.halifax.lisbon (2001) from Montréal composer Cal Crawford will undoubtedly seduce listeners looking for unheard acousmatic grounds.

Two small treats to end with. First, the pretty Aenviron: one mini-CDR is a simple thread of five pure field recordings (with no processing!). After all, if there is such a thing as cinema for the ear, why shouldn’t there be a photo album for the ear! And to close the loop, may we also suggest to make a stop at Lionel Marchetti’s recent mini-CD with the evocative title, Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) (1998-99). This work for one loudspeaker, dedicated (couldn’t you guess?) to Pierre Schaeffer, remind us again of the ever renewed importance of environmental sources in feeding the electroacoustic ocean.