Cabinets de curiosité Alistair MacDonald

Cover art: Shona Barr, Red Flowers (1992)
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The music on Cabinets de curiosité is just as colorful as the gorgeous artwork on the cover Noise Not Music

It’s a generally quite neat approach to found sound as a dominant source without any obligation to purity of its treatment, resulting in seven fairly disparate but certainly intriguing sonic environments. Chain DLK, USA

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits

• MP3 • OGG • FLAC

Cabinets de curiosité

Alistair MacDonald

Some Recommended Items

Notices

Cabinets of Curiosity

Wunderkammern or ‘cabinets of curiosities,’ of the 16th and 17th centuries, were fabulous collections of objects brought together, ordered and displayed to inspire curiosity and wonder. They might include religious relics, stuffed birds and animals, shells, artefacts from distant and ancient cultures, mineral and plant specimens, paintings and drawings. In fact, almost anything.

As a small boy, the ‘cabinet of curiosity’ that intrigued me was the large, tabletop radio in our kitchen, with its ‘magic-eye’ tuning indicator and its exotic world of sounds veiled in hiss and crackle. Language, music and noise combined as I spun the dial. Assembled here are some of the sounds I have collected, ordered and displayed in subsequent years.

Alistair MacDonald, Glasgow [viii-18]

In the Press

  • jckmd, Noise Not Music, November 20, 2018
    The music on Cabinets de curiosité is just as colorful as the gorgeous artwork on the cover
  • Girolamo Dal Maso, Blow Up, no. 246, November 1, 2018
  • Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, October 25, 2018
    It’s a generally quite neat approach to found sound as a dominant source without any obligation to purity of its treatment, resulting in seven fairly disparate but certainly intriguing sonic environments.

Review

jckmd, Noise Not Music, November 20, 2018

The music on Cabinets de curiosité is just as colorful as the gorgeous artwork on the cover (painted by Shona Barr). Though each of the seven pieces explore different territory, the title of the composition that opens the disc, The Tincture of Physical Things, is a fitting unifier. MacDonald’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’ isn’t limited to just found objects; it includes any sounds that struck him as distinctive or significant, from the handmade glass instruments of Carrie Fertig used on Scintilla to the sounds of public spaces in Final Times, described by the composer as ‘cinema for the ears.’ MacDonald also pays tribute to Delia Derbyshire and early musique concrète on Psychedelian Streams, using more basic processing techniques on memorable objects from his childhood like Slinkies, wooden rulers, and wind chimes.

The music on Cabinets de curiosité is just as colorful as the gorgeous artwork on the cover

Review

Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, October 25, 2018

A compilation of independent works from sound artist Alistair MacDonald, ranging from 1997 to 2013, this collection of processed found sounds is a gentle exploration of everyday noises from which richer and less familiar aspects have been teased out and highlighted — sometimes with the mildest of touches, sometimes with a far more heavy-handed post-production-centric approach.

Opening piece The Tincture Of Physical Things initially seems like purely layered found sound atmospherics, but the grumbles of earth and fire build progressively and it takes time to appreciate the subtlety with which you’re being presented with something composed rather than just found. Final Times is also on the subtle side, while Bound For Glory (Postcard From Poland) is a rather straight-laced piece of train noise with very subtle layering and processing that reminded me of the recent CNSNNT release T. Final piece Wunderkammer is built from jungle sounds, treated with resonance most prominent on its bell-like notes to give a more dream-like layout.

Less subtle pieces include the Delia Derbyshire -inspired Psychedlian Streams, which adopts a Radiophonic Workshop-esque approach to sonic twisting but with a pace more frantic, skittish and spontaneous than anything I heard Derbyshire create. Pieces like the ‘glass instrument’-derived Scintilla are a touch more conventional, playing with tuned resonances and reverberation to create an inner alien world, and are counterpointed by the gravely growliness of Equivalence.

It’s a generally quite neat approach to found sound as a dominant source without any obligation to purity of its treatment, resulting in seven fairly disparate but certainly intriguing sonic environments.

It’s a generally quite neat approach to found sound as a dominant source without any obligation to purity of its treatment, resulting in seven fairly disparate but certainly intriguing sonic environments.

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