Review

Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no 026, 29 avril 2001

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. Jonty Harrison’s Évidence matérielle is dominated by movement and concrete sounds. Never is there a standstill moment in these compositions, realised between 1982 and 1999. From the “klanging” of two earthenware casserole dishes to the sounds of wood splinters and turbulent streams of water, Harrison’s acousmatic works emphasise sounds in their pure states, assessing both sound “for what it is” as well as sound “for what it tells”. His compositions are intense and offer an exhaustive (and exhausting!) look at his particular sound sources (water, wood, earthenware pots, etc.). The only exception is on Sorties (1995), in which which he takes a step back in order to capture crowds, street scenes, urban movement. And yet still I get the sense that these are a series of aural snapshots; Harrison seems to quickly move his gear from one location to another, as if in a frantic state of mind, or as if he were chasing faeries or trying to capture something as obscure as phlogiston. His sound palette is indeed stunning (the sound engineering really shines on this release), but this particular restlessness in the compositions, the business and incessant activity of sounds, makes me a little uneasy and keeps me from embracing this record more fully.

His sound palette is indeed stunning…