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sound/music CD reviews

 Da Contents H2

May 1 2013
Jon Rose

April 3 2013
zephyr quartet
a rain from the shadows

July 17 2012
the wired lab
wired open day 2009

May 22 2012
ros bandt, johannes s sistermanns

March 20 2012
new weird australia editions: thomas williams vs scissor lock, spartak
jewelz & nippon

October 25 2011
avantwhatever label collection
gulbenkoglu gorfinkel; ben byrne; alex white; ivan lysiak

May 24 2011
disintegration: mutation

May 10 2011
blip (jim denley, mike majkowksi)

listen to the weather

March 22 2011
difference engine

November 22 2010
artefacts of australian experimental music volume II 1974-1983

September 20 2010
clocked out
the wide alley

September 7 2010
clocked out
foreign objects

August 23 2010
matt chaumont

July 26 2010
sky needle
time hammer

May 10 2010
mike majkowski
ink on paper

November 6 2009
new weird australia vols 1 & 2

October 26 2009
clare cooper & chris abrahams
germ studies

July 17 2009
erdem helvacioglu
wounded breath

rice corpse
mrs rice

April 28 2009
james rushford

joel stern
objects, masks, props

January 22 2009
loren chasse
the footpath

mark cauvin

December 12 2007
the splinter orchestra

October 24 2007
artefacts of australian experimental music 1930-1973

August 28 2007
akathistos fragments


various artists produced by le tuan hung; dindy vaughan
on the wings of a butterfly: cross-cultural music by australian composers; up the creek

May 1 2006
ai yamamoto

camilla hannan
more songs about factories

found: quantity of sheep

philip brophy

rod cooper

December 1 2005
anthony pateras
mutant theatre

December 1 2005
charlie charlie & will guthrie
la respiration des saintes & building blocks

dj olive

new belief system

jodi rose & guest artists
singing bridges: vibrations/variations

lawrence english

lawrence english
ghost towns

michael j schumacher
room pieces

robin fox
backscatter dvd


the necks
mosquito/see through

tim o'dwyer
multiple repeat

guns, cars & guitars

warp: various artists
warp vision: the videos 1989-2004

zane trow
for those who hear actual voices


rod cooper


Room40, 2004, RM406

In Friction, sculptor, instrument builder and subterranean explorer Rod Cooper has taken some of his hand-built metal instruments and documented performances upon them. Here we have an artist intimately entwined with his inventions and the spaces they inhabit.

In Estuary Nocturne long bowed notes swell and overlap accompanied by a broad, complex and somewhat breathy harmonic spectrum. These dronal tones border on the edge of stability: punctuations of sharp plucking and some lesser dull knockings disturb their dark waters.

It is in the longest track, Stratum, that Cooper fully explores the possibilities of instrument, performance and space. Extending over 17 minutes it begins with machinic rattlings and vibrations, stretching from feverish rasping to gentle lulled tones. Before it ends Cooper has managed to coax, throttle and squeeze what seems to be every possible sound out of the instrument. The interplay between hard and soft, space and sound, performer and instrument, and what lies between the sounds themselves, is satisfying: what Cooper refers to as “comfort through dissonance”.

Cooper seems to be trying to bring to life some other that lies within his hand-forged instruments. At times an invocation, in some instances a “voice”, is released from his ferrous contraptions via rubbing, scraping, bowing, striking and plucking. The sonic matter is thick, extending into space, over time defining the instrument's materiality and the place in which it dwells. Mostly this definition forms the composition itself yet there is one track in particular, Mandrel, which employs variations of a 3-note motif of sharp attacks and extended decays paired with long, low buzzing notes. These 2 clusters build up a more familiar musical compositional approach than otherwise represented on the disk.

The acoustic spaces on each track seem to be similar. This has the advantage of highlighting the different qualities of instruments although notably different 'rooms' could have been an interesting addition knowing Cooper's penchant for alternative spaces, especially those of Melbourne's underground.

The overall subterranean feel of Friction and Cooper's ability to release characteristic sounds from his own intruments give the tracks a coherence and confidence only gained through experience. The watery cascade of notes delivered on the final track, Pearlite, is testament to this. This confidence also highlights the compositional structures developed over time from the capacities of each instrument. These are loosely adhered to allowing a revelatory discovery of sonic textures and intuitive percussion.

Dean Linguey

© Dean Linguey; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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