Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, December 22, 2019

English composer Annie Mahtani studied with Jonty Harrison in Birmingham, and does electronic music, electroacoustic composition, free improvisation, and installations; she expresses an interest in environmental recordings. Five very recent pieces on Racines, of which the earliest dates from 2008. The stories behind these contain her written observations about the very specific places where they were made, or where the original recordings were captured; it’s evident she’s very sensitive to the entire surrounding area, hoping to capture the truth of a locale. I like her subdued, pared-down approach on Past Links, which remains very coherent as it attempts to take on the form of a living museum in sound, using objects from a museum in Dudley to tell the story of the industrial past of the Black Country. Round Midnight derives from her time in the Amazon rainforest, working with Francisco López; having heard my fair share of recordings of frogs, insects, birds and rainfall, I can safely say Mahtani’s is one of the most interesting entries in an over-crowded field. In her hands, the locale becomes an intense, bubbling cauldron of life; the power of nature, cubed. Equally subdued and focussed is Inversions, involving a strange tale of 5000 figures carved out of ice at some open-air exhibit; she creates a minimalist humming atmosphere which may have been derived from the sounds of chiselling and melting ice. Scary; at times it seemed these icy figures were coming to life, forming an army and preparing for an invasion. There’s also Aeolian made from wind recordings in Northumberland, and the very touching (and personal) Racines tordues, about a family tragedy which has evidently deepened her and made her stronger. A most excellent set by Mahtani.

… she’s very sensitive to the entire surrounding area, hoping to capture the truth of a locale.