AMN Reviews: Spectrical – Emergent Forms [cnv79]

cnv79The air is full of electromagnetic signals undetectable to the naked ear. With the proper equipment this ordinarily unheard soundworld can be made audible, recorded and cultivated into musical objects. For Emergent Forms, Australian sound experimentalist Timothy Allen used a JrF induction coil pickup to record signals from a variety of everyday sources—household appliances and fixtures, computers, and the like. The recordings were then arranged and processed in order to allow their latent pitches and harmonics to emerge. And in this hour-long single track of mutating textures and timbres one can hear a kind of elemental musicality asserting itself out of the raw sonic material of buzzes, crackles and humming drones. The piece is heavily textured–almost tangibly so, as much of the pitch aspect of the sound is fused into its timbres. These latter make for a thick weave of rough and burred and—somehow visual imagery comes to mind—shimmering, iridescent layers of sound. When pitches do emerge they tend to move slowly, singly or in vertical stacks; the harmonies are often static and suspended, though occasionally resolving. Allen’s extracted sounds can be heard mimicking the voices of a pipe organ, tubular bells, or other pitched percussion. The signals’ periodicity is brought out in the variable rhythms of clicks, chirps and beat-frequencies that run throughout like a kind of subterranean sound stream. Evocative stuff from the ostensible silence that surrounds us.

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