Friday, November 08, 2019
Jon Dale - theatre (triste tropiques)
Sukora - Ice Cream Day! Nice Day! (triste tropiques)
Two excellent approaches to the notion of non-activity or near silence and the depths available therein.
Perhaps more went into it than meets the ear, but Jon Dale's 'theatre' seems to be one 55-minute recording of an interior space in which not so much happens. But so much happens. My visual analogue as I was listening was a piece of gray felt or carpeting, the kind of material that at a glance appears a drab gray but on close examination reveals tiny threads of various, surprisingly bright colors, impossibly complex. Dale's room, if it is such (no information is presented with the disc--perhaps it's simply a theatre interior per the title), appears to contain a heating system, perhaps, something softly, airily mechanical that operates on a consistent level throughout, generating a warm kind of burr, in and of itself subtly fluctuating and dully shimmering as, one imagines, pressure levels shift ever so slightly. The sound is dry on the one hand, super-saturated on the other resulting in a depth of field that's both shallow and infinitely detailed; fascinating. As well, the space, or adjacent ones, is being utilized by humans. We hear the occasional door being opened and shut, squeaking on its hinges, various random bangs and thuds and swatches of vague, blurred and distant conversation. These appear with delightful (that is to say, real) randomness, scattered piecemeal through the recording but often absent for any number of minutes. That's it, but that's more than enough. One easily imagines sitting in the space, doing nothing but listening and contemplating.
The oddly titled and illustrated 'Ice Cream Day! Nice Day!' by Sukora (Takayoshi Kitajima) contains even less to immediately apprehend but again, there's so much there. The sounds on the two tracks are pitched such that it might be recommended to listen on headphones. Otherwise, depending on your volume settings, you might lose them entirely. 'The second hand turning', as in the Dale, has at the start a consistent tone augmented by ancillary noises. The tone, though very quiet, is more aggressive, a vaguely threatening throb. As it falls out, one hears, indeed, a soft click that seems to recur at one second intervals, some haze between you and it and a barely discernible, high whine. The pulse returns now and then, imparting the sensation that the listener has moved, has walked to different areas that expose or amplify a given sound. If the Dale piece was a piece of fuzzy material, 'A moving organ' might be heard as the individual fibers from that material loosely strewn across a stone floor. An ultra-soft ambient rustle upon which one hears the slightest of clicks, irregular but frequent, as if someone's tapping the floor with a leaf. Somewhere in that rustle, next to impossible to discern, there's a regular sound, like the quietest of inner grooves brushed by a microscopic stylus. Intent, so thoughtful, engrossing.
Two superb, questioning releases.
Dale's blog appears to be down, but the discs above may be ordered from: