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mp3 extracts from engraved glass releases

Monday, November 22, 2010

new release on engraved glass / . point engraved edition

Sonata for clarinet & nodar (mp3 extract)

'sonata for clarinet & nodar'

Jez riley French (field recording / composition)
Joana Silva (clarinet)
Luis Costa (field recording)
egcd035 / nodar002
(a joint release between engraved glass & edições nodar)
in the last days of my residency at binaural (Nodar, Portugal) an idea came from a series of chance occurrences. Luis spotted Joana in the village & knew she was a clarinet player & that she had come from Lisbon to visit family for the summer. In the days before, myself & Luis had talked about recordings of instruments & singers in the natural environment - the roots of field recording. A decision was made to ask Joana if she would be willing to play her clarinet whilst walking slowly along a path that swept around the curve in the Paiva river that runs through Nodar. Joana, still at school, still learning the instrument, agreed & a day was arranged.
I think it's fair to say that what took place was truly a unique moment. This was not a 'perfect' realisation of a score that had been rehearsed. This was not a seasoned performer with a vast experience of contemporary composition playing a piece they knew well. Instead what was captured was a young player truly exploring the idea for the piece. There was no detailed instruction to her in regards to overall duration or the space between the played sections. This, therefore, is a composition of a moment.
Of course, the very nature of field recording & one of it's charms, is that it is a gesture to capture an unpredictable environment. Given the rural nature of Nodar village some aspects of everyday village life were bound to make an appearance. It was another chance occurrence that at the time we were recording someone decided it was time to trim the overgrowth on their plot of land with one of the loudest machines invented for the purpose. As this sound went on & on my thoughts went from frustration to resignation - we were, after all, capturing an aspect of life as it was happening. In composing the final piece it would have been possible to leave this intervention of modern rural reality out. However doing so would have also removed a memorable part of the experience.
It is the emotive capture of this day, this moment that motivated the composition drawn from the recordings made that day & the decision to create this release.
my thanks to Joana for her openess, exploration & dedication to the essential qualities of the music (both performed & environmental) & to Luis & all at Binaural for their hospitality & commitment.

to order the cd version please see the first post on this website

from a review by Brian Olewnick / Just Outside:

An interesting take on the integration of field recording and traditional music....Here, clarinetist Joana Silva plays a composition by Henri Rabaud, "Solo de Concours", while walking through a rural landscape, dutifully followed by French and Costa recording her embedding therein. The clarinet doesn't appear until some 11 minutes in, but then occupies center stage, though Silva pauses often, allowing the landscape its say and drifts off into the distance on occasion.
....can imagine deriving enjoyment from the physicality of the experience, walking though glades, over streams, up hills, etc. while, in "3D", focusing on either the clarinet or the ambiance or both. I have to say the chain-saw encounter captures one's attention...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Julia Holter - 'celebration'

. eg.p06 - cd edition sold out


Julia Holter - 'celebration'

Bars in Afternoons
recorded in Paris, France, December 2008
and Los Angeles, CA 2009

La Celebración
recorded in Los Angeles, CA April 2010
and Orange County, CA July 2010

Harmony 17 (edit)
recorded at Union Station
Los Angeles, CA August 2009

(realisation of Michael Pisaro’s score)

review by Richard Pinnell / The Watchful Ear:

The CD I have been playing this evening, and on and off since the end of last week, is a new disc containing three pieces by Julia Holter on the Engraved Glass label as part of its .point engraved series. I don’t know very much about Holter, and google hasn’t revealed too much more to me, but that’s fine. if I was writing for The Wire here I would do the research, but as this is TWE then gut reactions and uninformed guesswork is de rigeur… Holter seems to play cello, but it would I think be fair to say that the majority of the sounds heard on this disc, which is titled Celebration involve field recordings at their heart. The first track, which is my favourite here, is named Bars in Afternoons, and as you might expect is made of recordings of said spaces, with the bars in particular here found in Paris and Los Angeles. The track begins with a clearly recorded wistful if bland piano gently floating around the sound of chattering voices and clanking cutlery and glasses. Whether all of these sounds were heard at once in the same room, or whether some layering of different recordings has taken place here its hard to tell, though certainly all of the voices are in french at this stage. A few minutes in, and Elton John’s dreadful I’m still standing can be heard, somewhat hazily, as if played on a slightly detuned radio. Then the sounds of the bar conversation are joined by the twittering of birds, and I am now sure that this is a collage of different recordings, though at the heart of it all remains the one recording from Paris. A little later, at almost the twelve minute mark, a pop song that sounds like a cross between ABBA and Nico appears, filling the foreground and staying there for several minutes while the chatter and bar sounds continue somewhere behind until the track end suddenly.
This opening track goes somewhere most field recordings don’t, though exactly where that is I am struggling to define. Holter is hiding nothing here, and is presenting just what she heard in these bars rather than focussing on the sounds we might expect (creaking doors, running taps etc) So she was in a bar when a song played, so that appears on the CD. The matter-of-factness of this piece, the documentary feeling, despite the potential amount of overdubbing done is really great. The appearance of the pop songs makes it feel very real, like something we have all experienced, and placing it here on a CD somehow makes us listen more carefully, studying the sounds, despite their seemingly everyday status. A refreshingly original piece.
The second track here, titled La Celebracion, recorded in LA and Orange County at different points earlier this year sits more comfortably in familiar field recordings territory. It opens with the dull roar of overpassing aircraft, the twitter of birds and some strange, far off sounds that could be music playing, or maybe the sound of a fairground. Despite the fact we have heard music made of these sounds before this piece is done very well indeed, with a grey haziness filling the early parts of this track that is really very beautiful. About five minutes in, some loud fireworks suddenly begin to explode in a series of loud, dull pops. Firework sounds are also far from original on this kind of release, but again they work well here, nicely chosen dramatic sounds offsetting the deadened backdrop we began with.
The closing track is a version of Harmony 17, taken from Michael Pisaro’s Harmony Series of compositions, and was originally available as a free download from the Compost and Height net label. Holter’s realisation sees her spend half an hour at Union Station, Los Angeles, late at night just before the station closed, as it apparently does every night, for just one minute. (Exactly why it does this is anyone’s guess) Holter plays cello in the station, very quietly and dry, mostly playing what must be the lowest notes possible on the instrument. She only begins playing after we have listened to the sounds of the heating and ventilation systems humming, and people’s low conversations caught in the long resonant tunnels of the space and amplified several times over. Regular readers here will be aware of my love of the sound of this kind of place, railway stations, airports, particularly in the early hours of the morning. This is a suitably beautiful recording of such a place, with as little or as much going on as you wish your ears to hear and your mind to focus upon. When the cello appears its almost a disappointment as it masks the ambient sounds slightly rather than blend into them. Amusingly, halfway through, during a space in her playing, someone approaches Holter to ask about what she is doing, sounding quite inspired by her playing rather than being upset by it. Now, in the UK, if someone sat making low droning sounds in a late night subway station they probably wouldn’t be treated so well.
While I really enjoy each of the last two tracks, it is the opening Bars in Afternoons that I am most take with here. Certainly though, while field recordings albums are ten a penny right now, and the overall quality of the genre seems to be flattening out a little, this is one disc I think stands out from the crowd, and like Anne Guthrie and Michael Pisaro’s releases on the .point engraved series from earlier this year it forms part of a nice series of discs that are testament to the taste and ear of the label’s curator, Mr riley French. Good stuff.

review by Brian Olewnick / Just Outside:

Few things better than hearing exciting music from a name entirely new to me. Holter is (or was) a student of Michael Pisaro and, while one can easily detect his influence, the best work here entirely bears her own stamp.

The first of three pieces, and the strongest, is a wonderful composition called "Bars in Afternoons" which, indeed, mixes site recordings from bars in Paris and Los Angeles, presumably in the afternoon, with Holter's piano (I'm guessing), weaving through the beginning and her singing at the end. The casual, ambient conversation has a luscious clarity to it, perhaps due to it's being offset against a more distant speaker through which later on, among others things, wafts Elton John. The piano is in mid-distance, almost taking on the role of one in a cocktail bar, except playing music that sounds like highly abstracted Satie. These three dimensions, the talk, the piped in music and the piano, create a very rich atmosphere, absolutely immersive. There's a brief smattering of birds, including gulls and one or two other intrusions of displaced sound. Eventually, some 12 minutes into the 15-minute piece, we arrive at the final section wherein Holter, almost as though taking "stage" in one of the bars, breaks out in forthright, multi-tracked song, a lovely, wistful number pleading, "Don't make me over." Something of a Lynchian moment, it works beautifully. One of the single best things I've heard this year.

"La Celebración" almost sounds as though recorded some warm night by hanging a mic from a window, muted bass throbs emanating from a neighbor's house, birds, airplanes, a freeway some distance away. About five minutes in, this nocturnal calm is interrupted by what I guess are firecrackers, though the sound is rather muffled and, had I not had the title as a clue, I might have guessed it was, I don't know, someone punching a large cardboard box. Soon, however, the streamers and fireworks make themselves known with clarity, bursting all across the soundscape. Then, back to calm. A nice enough piece, though there's something fragmentary about it, at least when compared to the prior track.

Lastly, there's a realization of Pisaro's "Harmony 17", with Holter on cello amidst the sounds of Union Station in Los Angeles. I've not seen the score but from what transpires here, it might be that the instrumentalist is asked to play very quietly for the first portion of the piece, more prominently in the middle section and quiet again toward the end. You can just hear the bowed cello near the beginning (unless I'm mistaking some regional hum for it, which is quite possible given Pisaro's penchant for lengthy silences to begin a piece), blending in with the airy sound of the large room. At seven minutes, the low arco tones become overt, though again (deliciously) sounding as though they could have emerged from engine vibrations, then recedes again. The entire piece dips out briefly about midway through its 34-minutes, resurfacing with cello upfront, still carrying that low drone. A naive young man strolls over, interested in what's occurring, claiming to be a bassist yet not recognizing the instrument Holter's playing. "That's, like a violin, right? Whoa, no, a violin is super-small, right?" Love it. And the work continues, the cello either extremely soft or not playing, then once again emerging, etc. the sounds of the station a constant, that initial soft hum reappearing.

A fine release, very happy to have heard it.

review from 'the cookshop' (web):

I’m not one to usually philosophise about what does or does not constitute music. I would say that I uphold John Cage’s definition: “Everything is Music”, and perhaps more-so if it’s been released on a CD, LP, cassette, etc. I’m only bringing this upfront because Celebration was the first release in quite a while to make me outright wonder about what I’m hearing.
Most field recordings are used with either the intent to capture and introduce you to a certain environment or to make you really focus on, notice and enjoy sounds that you might have otherwise missed – yet ‘Bars in Afternoons’ simply doesn’t seem carry out these goals. Could someone have recorded something as a literally “stand-alone” piece – meaning that she or he (she, in this case) wouldn’t have wanted anyone to hear it? After all, Henry Darger spent his entire life writing two gargantuan novels, each containing a whole universe unto itself (hence successfully securing the first and second position, respectively, in the list of longest written works created) and painting hundreds of enormous paintings – borderline murals – without ever telling anyone of their existence. It seems like, as opposed to asking to be listened to, this piece desired nothing more than to simply exist. It wanted me to go outside and have my own afternoon in a bar and leave it alone. Then, suddenly, we hear Julia’s voice and a bona fide, “real” song slips into the foreground. Her voice vaguely reminds me that of Nico’s and she is companioned by a cello and guitar. A melody so incredibly fragile and so staggeringly beautiful, ending just as inexplicably as it began.
The second piece ‘La Celebración’ comes somewhat closer to the usual field-recording territory. It appears to consist of at least two recordings made at two very different locations: halfway in, one witnesses loud noises that may or not be the sounds of fireworks going off in order to celebrate something. The final and longest piece ‘Harmony 17’ is a realisation of one of Michael Pisaro’s scores, gathering sounds of the Union Station in LA. Before close to closing time accompanied by a cello which drones away at the lowest registers, almost as if trying to disappear completely from existence. The sound of a lonesome woman lost amongst the depressingly haunting beauty of the city’s everyday murmurings. (77ships)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

engraved glass is pleased to announce that issues two & three of 'tristesse engraved' - the free to download & view online arts zine - are now available at the links below.

issue two - the photographic slide issue # 1 click here

issue three - the expired film issue click here