AMN Reviews: David Dunn – Verdant (2021; Neuma 129)

David Dunn’s works reflect his interests and research in acoustic ecology, bioacoustics, interspecies communication and scientific sonification.  These interests has enabled him to truly be an interdisciplinary artist. Dunn has produced a very unique body of work that blurs the line between art and science.

David Dunn’s latest piece is “Verdant” which he describes as a kind of pastoral motivated by his desire to speak to a more optimistic future. The material of “Verdant” is an intersection of ambient music, new tonality, minimalism, algorithmic composition, software synthesis, field recording, sound art, and drone music. It is a binaural piece in a single movement of about eighty minutes in length. “Verdant” was composed and recorded during the pandemic. The quietness caused by the pandemic allowed Dunn who is an expert wildlife recordist to capture some of the extremely low volume sounds of the desert. This microscopic desert audio soundscape is intertwined with slowly changing drones of sinewaves that float along with the ambient sounds of windchimes, sustained violin sounds, backyard birds and distant traffic to create a deep and wide imaginary soundscape.


“Verdant” is a wonderful active ambient pastoral. Since it is a binaural recording, it is best experienced with headphones or ear buds. My first listen was at a very moderate volume level and while I found the piece really interesting on the next several passes, I listened to it at a soft to very soft volume and then found it to be really captivating. So, I would highly recommend listening to this at a softer volume and really give it a deep listen. I think most if not all regular AMN readers will find this a very engaging and relaxing listen.

For those who want to explore more of Dunn’s work I would recommend starting with an excellent article by Madison Heying and David Kant from the Sound American issue dedicated to Dunn’s work. Dunn’s website also provides a detailed retrospective of the last thirty years of his work with a collection of his scores, writings, sounds and images.

Highly recommended!

Chris De Chiara

AMN Reviews: Yiorgis Sakellariou – Nympholepsy [Noise Below]

Yiorgis Sakellariou’s Nympholepsy is a portrait in sound of the historical ghosts inhabiting the ruins of Ancient Messene, a city on the Greek peninsula of The Peloponnese. Over the centuries, the site saw several waves of settlement and conquest, of building, destruction and reconstruction, beginning with foundation by the Achaeans and culminating with the city’s reestablishment in 369 BCE after the defeat of Sparta by Thebes at Leuctra. Much more recently–in 2018–the ruins of Ancient Messene were the focus of a Tuned City event in which a number of sound artists were commissioned to explore the themes of place and memory and their implications for the situated nature of listening. Sakellariou was one of the artists invited to participate; Nympholepsy is the work that resulted.

The audio interpretation of an ancient city would seem to be a natural fit for Sakellariou. Trained as an ethnomusicologist and active since the early 2000s as a composer of electronic music and a field recordist, Sakellariou has produced a body of work largely concerned with ferreting out and disclosing the networks of association that tie together an environment and the listeners situated within it. For Nympholepsy he took field recordings of Ancient Messene and combined them with manipulated recordings of the voice of Savina Yannetou, a Greek vocalist as conversant with early music as she is with contemporary improvisation. Sakellariou alters the sound of Yannetou’s voice artfully, changing its pitch and timbre, setting up rhythmic patterns and blocks of sound, and occasionally stripping it down to traces of its grain with the underlying breath exposed. Structurally, the twenty-three minute-long piece is a work of accumulation and densification as Sakellariou adds layers of sound elements and pressures them into thickening masses—an especially appropriate response to a place that itself was the product of an accretion of peoples and their material cultures over long periods of time.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Michel Redolfi – Desert Tracks [Sub Rosa SR 418CD & 418LP]

sr418-siteWith Desert Tracks, Michel Redolfi (1951) set out to create an image in sound of the desert—its vast spaces, both topographical and audio—of the American Southwest.

Involved in electronic experimental music since his late teens in his native Marseilles, Redolfi went on to work with Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari and others in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. Prior to that, in 1973-1984, he was pursuing electronic composition in California at UC San Diego and the California Institute of the Arts. In 1987, he returned to the US where he went into the Mojave Desert, Death Valley and Palm Canyon to make a series of recordings. These form the basis of the Desert Tracks, originally released in 1988. This re-release on LP and CD contains the 1988 album, as well as an additional ten minute track on the CD version.

As can be imagined, the sounds are stark and austere, creating a portrait in sound that reflects something essential about the harsh desert environment. But the portrait is an abstract one, consisting in looming, often unstable chords with a bright, bell-like sheen to them; the punctuating sounds of scrapes, rattling and crackling; and always a reversion to silence. Occasionally a recognizable sound emerges—a human voice, however modified, or what sounds like a train approaching a crossing—but for the most part the sounds are suggestive rather than depictive. Redolfi plays with foreground and background sounds, and the occasional Doppler effect, to create a sense of spatial depth analogous to the physical distances encountered in the desert.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Yiorgis Sakellariou – Silentium [Pogus 21088-2]

cd_088Silence can be thought of as the nothingness transcending sound, or an only apparently empty vessel containing sonic multitudes. In Silentium, a new long piece from Greek composer Yiorgis Sakellariou, silence manages to be both.

The basis for Silentium is a set of recordings Sakellariou made of church bells, organs and ambient sounds during a residency in Prague in December, 2015. The finished work is a long, single composition of nearly fifty minutes.

Appropriately enough, Silentium begins in silence or near silence. By the eight-minute mark an organ drone presents itself as a thick, unsettling and unsettled chord that abruptly fades away into the quiet ebb and flow of a high-frequency tingling. The rest of the piece is a natural progression of seeming waves of thunder or rushes of wind, the distant sounds of chiming bells, falling rain, birdsong, and sounds whose sources can only be guessed at. Throughout, there are long stretches where nothing seems to happen—just as there are sudden upsurges of sound, sometimes dramatically loud, sometimes unexpectedly persistent. The intermittency of sounds and silences serves to emphasize both as in essence temporally finite phenomena, each standing at the limit of the other.

In sum, Silentium is a recording with a lot of space in it. In fact, space seems to be its subject: Space as exemplified in silence and in the ambient sounds that frequently stand in for silence, thereby not incidentally providing an aural map of a specific physical territory.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Steve Ashby – Winter Birds & Crackles and Codes [Bandcamp]

a0762889049_2The atmosphere is an open field of communications, the air a chaotic meeting ground of audible sounds as well as a more recondite network of radio and television signals, radar emissions and the effluvia of various wireless devices. Steve Ashby’s Crackles and Codes and Winter Birds present two different but complementary portraits of the waves pervading the air.

a3575064408_2Ashby, a guitarist, composer and electronics experimentalist in Richmond, VA, assembles sound elements sourced from field recordings and composed passages and constructs them into thick soundscapes suggestive of particular times or locations. Winter Birds, a five-track work based on field recordings taken during the winter of 2015, is evocative of the damp, grey winters of the Mid-Atlantic region. Ashby sampled birdsong, wind chimes and other sounds in the air and processed them into a sonic image that recalls those moments at twilight when birdsong becomes particularly salient. Crackles and Codes is a single drone-based track that seems to call up the ghosts of untuned radios. Over the course of its eighteen and a half minutes a slowly moving, foreboding melody on guitar emerges and disappears into a thick background of resonant, suspended harmony.

Daniel Barbiero

Sound-Minds Fortress, Travis Johns, Scott Stobbe in Portland

From Portland Eye and Ear Control:

Thursday, November 19th
8pm, $5 suggested donation (no one turned away)
@ Enterbeing
1603 NE alberta

Sound-Minds Fortress: Strings and Harmonium (members include Warren Lee, Mary Sutton, and Gabriel Will)
Travis Johns: Electronics from San Fran!
Scott Stobbe and Ensemble: New works for ensemble by Scott Stobbe incorporating inspiration and field recordings from his recent travels in Europe.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sonomu Reviews

From Sonomu:

Simon Whetham, Lightyears (Traceable Echoes)
Simon Whetham is a Bristol-based sound artist and composer whose work has previously appeared on labels sensitive to the smallest sounds, like Entr´Acte, Trente Oiseaux and Gruenrekorder. Lightyear is a half-hour excerpt of the soundtrack he created for visual artist Kathryn Thomas´… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 05:58, 04 Sep 2009

Philip Sulidae, The Blacken Solver (3″ CDR Dontcaresulidae)
Australian sound artist Philip Sulidae issues two small white slabs of dark, dense experimental ambient on twin, three-inch CDRs, each lovingly slid into black-on-grey, flocked paper sleeves. His chief means are field recordings, organ, and “synthesis”. The Blacken Solver is gloomy, beautiful,… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 04:35, 03 Sep 2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Diamatregon – Crossroad
French black metal band Diamatregon make speedy and grim blacked metal with dips into blacked post-rock and punk edger’s along its way. The bands sound is both tied to the tradition of true black metal yet it’s progressive, it’s memorable yet never safe & experimental but never too much so. Crossroad is the bands third album and it’s a highly consistent, grimly memorable slice of blacked metal craft.

Thunderwheel – Credo
Thunderwheel is the new project from Vadim Gusis who is the sonic mastermind behind the wonderful Russian music meets ambient and folk of Agnivolok & respected ethic industrial ambient collective Chaos as a Shelter. And through Thunderwheel shows Gusis usual flair for varied and exotic instrumentation this is quite different sounding from either project.

Krga – Thousands
In two 3″ cdr’s we get to see two different sides of the Seattle-based musician Kgra, or Kristian Garrard. A nice little package, with nice music as well.

A Minority of One – Bathe in Fiery Answer
A Minority of One’s sound is very difficult to pin down, describe or put into any genre bracket, which in itself is reason alone to check them out. They mix up a very earthy, organic & often primal sound that often takes in percussive elements, natural based field recordings, droning horn work, dramatic male singing and drone textures.

Joris J – Fabrikation von Konsens
Fabrikation von Konsens(Production of Consent) offers up a very heady, dense and murky collection of lo-fi electronic mood scapes and dark electroinca that weave in elements of bent and cut piano music, aged soundtrack matter and general effective/ atmospherics noise texture. All to create a series of pieces that feel like they’ve come from some strange and bent nocturnal world just beyond our normal vision.

The Bad Statistics – Lucky Town Gone
The Bad Statistics make stumbling, droning and sleazed grange rock that’s rich with jagged discordant edger’s, haphazard sonic slumps and a rather appealing seedy atmosphere but the strangest and most unique element of the bands sound is the madden and manic vocals of lead singer Thebis Mutante; who gives one of the most unhinged and unbalance vocal performer I’ve ever heard.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Merzbow – Hodosan
Hodosan three long tracks are made up of bombarding, bone shaking and violent live drum work-outs that are complex, brutal & offten improvised. And weaved in and out of the near constant drum attacks are singed, boiled and burnt noise scapes.

The Legendary Pink DotsAlchemical Playschool
Alchemical Playschool finds field recordings from around India and Indian music twang meeting the psychedelic electronics and general post industrial oddness of The Legendary Pink Dots muisc.

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Parais – Cometary Orbital Drive
Cometary orbital Drive is another fine and rewarding example of Acid mother Temples distinctive and one-off sound. With this time around things staying very tied into a spaced Kraut rock type groove, but with the usual quirky and at times bizarre elements and sonic progressions thrown in too.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]