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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


matt chaumont


CD, Avant Whatever, 001

Australian artist Matt Chaumont has spent the better part of the last decade immersed in the world of low frequency sounds, producing a range of works that have probed that liminal perceptual zone where hearing and touch intersect. This has regularly involved the construction and installation of custom-built speaker systems capable of delivering sounds well below the threshold of human hearing and at a volume sufficient for Chaumont’s needs. So with the release of Linea we find out how his aesthetic and practice translates to the home listening CD/album format.

Linea comprises three pieces that are constructed using a limited set of resources—low frequency sine tones. However, this is not to say that these works are in any way austere or simply reductionist. Instead, Linea explores that territory common to the early Minimalist composers such as La Monte Young, Tony Conrad and Charlemagne Palestine, the early work of Ryoji Ikeda and the sine-tone pieces by Alvin Lucier, where reductive strategies generate complex outcomes. Each of Chaumont’s works on this CD produces an intricate sound derived from the interactions between his spare source materials. These works are in no way fast moving—all three pieces are marked by a certain stasis of form, allowing listeners plenty of opportunity to bask in the low, low sounds.

Track one begins by gently shuddering up from below the threshold of audibility before settling into a deep throb, the result of acoustical beats formed by the relationship between two or more tones close together in frequency, the effect of which is somehow both restful and disturbing. As the tones gradually fall in frequency towards the end of the piece, the ear is seemingly dragged into lower and lower pitch zones until the roles of hearing and feeling the sound are well and truly conflated. The second track is both richer and subtler, with incremental harmonic shifts between chordal structures, punctuated with occasional 'silences' produced by sub-audible tones. The last piece returns to a realm of deep pulsations, which gradually mutate and expand over its duration.

It is almost a cliché to say that works such as these that utilise low frequency sound are in some way inherently invested with notions of the physical, especially as very low frequency sounds (typically those below 20 Hertz) are largely perceived through, and interpreted as, touch. However, sounds of all frequencies are equally physical phenomena, and impinge upon our bodies in myriad ways regardless of our modes of perception. What is more interesting about Chaumont’s work is the number of ways that it engages its audience across the perceptual scheme. A sense of physicality is induced not just by the sensation of sound vibrating the ear drum, body or furniture but in the way it arranges itself in space, marking the physical relationship between the listener and the waves of sound in the room. Likewise, the movement of the loudspeaker cones is discernable to the eye (if not the ear), adding a significant visual component to these pieces, especially during periods of what otherwise is experienced as silence. More than the sensational, but rather simplistic, subsonic thump in the thorax one feels from the kick drum in a night club or rock concert, Chaumont’s work demonstrates that even without the benefit of concert sized sound systems or home theatre sub woofers, low frequency sound is more than the sonic equivalent of the fun park ride—some overpowered gimmick for quick excitement. Instead, it becomes not just a malleable tool for mingling the senses, but also a conceptual space for reappraising the everyday division of the senses into discrete realms: sight, sound, space and touch—all from the slow and steady vibration of speaker cones.

Peter Blamey

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

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