Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Moniek Darge - Crete Soundies (Kye)
What an odd recording. Three pieces, each right about 20 minutes long, each apparently recorded in Crete though the liner notes impart scarce little information on specifics. For example, the first work, "Magnesia", seems to have been done in "Levka Ori, [where] the white mountains of Crete are made audible". Well, you do hear crickets, goat bells 'n' bleats and perhaps other ambient sounds, but predominantly, there's the singing/chanting of (again, presumably) Darge and several friends softly accompanied by (again guessing) electronics or a reed organ-type device. In this instance, I found said vocalizing excessively woozy and not so much in the spirit, so far as one could tell, of the place. It overrode rather than integrated with the area sounds. The notes to the second piece, "Anemos" inform us that "Magnesia" was a name given to the site by Darge and company. OK. They also reference wind and, yes, rushing air is the major element heard. Voices appear here as well but, unlike the first track, there's a decided air of mystery. I take it they're speaking, and sometimes singing, in Cretan and perhaps if I understood the language there would be far less mystery, but as is, you receive a fine sense of place and ritual, the howling wind serving to isolate and somehow darken the proceedings. Nice.
But the final cut, "East Crete", created by Darge in collaboration with Francoise Vanhecke, trumps them all. The cloistered nature of the prior works opens up into true space and life. Crickets again, in waves, engines, voices of old and young, recorded pop, air, water, everything. One assumes a good deal of construction went into the piece but it sounds entirely convincing as a particularly alive and fascinating environment; the listener resides there. Absolutely wonderful and worth the price of entry.
I don't believe Kye has a site, but the recording is available from erstdist
Max Eastley - Installation Recordings (1973-2008) (Paradigm)
Normally, I tend to have an issue with CD recordings of installations--one automatically loses the experience of the sounds in situ which, more often than not, is an essential aspect of the work. I suppose that might apply on this 2-disc set but, if so, damned if the sounds aren't still pretty great. If I do have a problem it's one that could only have been overcome by releasing 25-30 discs and that is the brevity of the 35 tracks here, from one to seven minutes. In many a case, I'd have gladly languished in the company of a given sonic environment for far longer.
Happily, these turn out to be quibbles. In fact the discs are arranged so that the installations, varying chronologically and quantitatively in nature, bleed into one another. What they have in common is processes set in motion then rarely if at all interfered with by human hand. Nature's hand is another matter as wind, motors, water, etc. all contribute their motive power. Sometimes the results sound wonderfully random, sometimes iterative, akin to minimalist music, streamlined here, chaotic there, interior or on mountainsides. Always with a strong sense of atmosphere, of air. When objects bang and clang in the Serpentine Gallery installation, they truly inhabit a full, breathing space. Oh, there are the odd moments when the wind interacts with Eastley's metal to create a woozy, chime-y effect, but even those are more pleasant than annoying, maybe reminiscent of Laraaji on zither, though when the same gusts play the aeolian flutes, it's divine.
I'd still like to hear these works in situ and at greater length but, as is, it's a very enjoyable, rewarding sampler.