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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


loren chasse

the footpath

Naturestrip NS3007

The work of American Loren Chasse can be largely characterised by his attentiveness to environments. This is what ties his work in with the myriad groupings of the Jewelled Antler collective and their idiosyncratic form of nature-bound acoustic psychedelia, often performed and recorded in outdoor settings, and his solo work that explores space, place and the act of listening through the use of location recordings. In this solo incarnation, Chasse’s work is closely associated with that particularly west coast group of sound-artists, which includes Brandon LaBelle, Jim Haynes and Steve Roden (all collaborators of Chasse over the years), who have explored a particularly post-‘industrial music’ notion of ambient sound making.

Environmental sounds form a major current in the history of music, a strong eddy of which has flowed through sonic experimentalism since the 20th century. However in the wake of this has come a range of issues about the conceptualisation, mediation and representation of the sounds of the natural, physical world within aesthetic projects. Where often the material manipulation and editing of these sound sources by artists can deflate what might otherwise be taken for a plea for naturalism (or indeed realism), much of the rhetoric that surrounds these practices drifts towards the essentialist, in that recordings are posited as somehow capable of relaying phenomenological aspects of actual places and environments along with the listening experiences that might occur within them.

Some of these issues come to the fore on The Footpath. The text accompanying the disc describes the sensations experienced during an afternoon spent on foot, pondering the sources of sounds heard and their locations. This text relates closely to "Arbor Pores"—a work in three tracks that forms two fifths of the album’s running time—which is constructed from recordings made in outdoor settings, and is to varying degrees a successful attempt to evoke the feeling and impression of a place or space.

More problematic is "Footpath Apparitions" which comprises the majority of the album. Edited from recordings of performances in Europe and America, environmental recordings are simply one component within a more overtly musical scheme. Here Chasse seems to prefer a palate composed of deep, muffled reverberances for conveying notions of depth and spaciousness, and along with the incorporation of melodic fragments (whatever their source), effects and winding drones, they tend to render the recorded locations as but one texture among many. The oceanic pace and fade-in fade-out edits—all too familiar hallmarks of much contemporary sound art—unfortunately tend to move the work towards the ponderous rather than the sonorous.

Then again, "Footpath Apparitions", rather than evoking the sensations of the field recordings used in its construction, or of the live context in which they were later performed, perhaps best represents the difficulty of the practice of giving preference to the sounds of the environment: how to impart that which is ever present—the sounds, experiences and places of the physical world—which are yet under-heard. To this end the more straightforward approach of ‘"Arbor Pores" is telling, if perhaps to some ears less inviting.

Peter Blamey

© Peter Blamey; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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