prices / ordering


all engraved glass releases can be purchased via the bandcamp page:


https://engravedglass.bandcamp.com/merch

mp3 extracts from engraved glass releases

Monday, December 12, 2011


available now:

'praha - favourite sounds of'

ep.014

25 recordings by Peter Cusack, John Grzinich, Jez riley French, Milos Vojtechovsky, Michal Kindernay, Lloyd Dunn, Stanislav Abraham, Udo Noll & Matthew Sansom


73 minutes exploring the sound of everyday prague.



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


Prague soundings

The tracks on the CD are selected from several hundreds Prague soundscape recordings collected for the occasion of ‘The Favourite Prague Sounds’ which was set in up in 2008 as a collaborative project of artistic and interdisciplinary research. It was an attempt to assist an outline of contemporary topology of the quickly transforming urban soundscape of Prague. Initiated by two Berlin based curators Gaby Hartel and Frank Kaspar in cooperation with Michal Rataj and Miloš Vojtěchovský and produced in the framework of radio d-cz, several outputs have been accomplished: workshops, radio plays, exhibition, performances and web presentation. Authors Peter Cusack and Miloš Vojtěchovský approached and started dialogues with different people, artists, musicians, students and the result was ongoing web database with contributors from Czechia and abroad. To select the “right” sounds for the CD was hard job and in a way the collection is constructed on stochastic principal. Each track has a different story, the recordist a different strategy, each location sounds differently. There are by chance a lot of machines sounds and especially railroads, since the trains seems to be audible almost everywhere around the city, but it does not mean there could not be composed completely another other interpretation of Prague sounds.
Recordings of a “natural” wilderness environment could sometimes be appreciated as a higher style of musical expression, in contradiction to the sound pollution of any industrial or postindustrial city of the 21st century. The sonic atmosphere of a contemporary city seems to the majority of its citizens rather diffuse, boring, standardized, and taken over by the ambience of machinery or commerce, traffic, and the mishmash or curtain of reproduced music. The tendency towards the “regression” of a sonic identity of a 21st century town, evolving towards the globalized urban sound of a metropolis, is considered by many as a real problem. Still, this symptom can perhaps be taken as an inspiring starting point for further reworking, appreciation and artistic apprehension.

On closer observation, urban soundscapes seems to be negative and disturbing only if we observe or listen to it from the point of a hypersensitive device or “universal surveillance ear”. Prague, like any other big city, offers - besides the “global hum” - a rich variety of different ambiences and locations, each specific to the exact place you stand and how are you able to hear it. The city appears then as a complex living organism, driven by changing scores of multiple sonic lines and niches. If listener is able to navigate or “browse” through them, they can select and perceive them carefully.

If a pedestrian moves out from a busy business street or an underground stairway to the river bank, entering the passages and parks, climbing up to the attics, roofs, and towers, and descending into the “guts” of the town, the musical cacophony of the city dissolves gradually into fine and evolving textures of sonic micro-narratives, images and compound interacting motifs. At night, when the traffic fades out, it is suddenly easy to detect the fabric of almost subliminal noises, hidden by day in the noise of airplanes, cars, trains, the honking of vehicles, etc.

When Peter Cusack came to Prague he was surprised by the sound of air-raid sirens, taking place every first wednesday of month. This is a rather unusual regular event for someone coming from England and most European towns. Peter was also very interested and surprised by the fact that you can approach the railway so easily to listen to it. He noticed that trains are to be found more or less everywhere in Prague. He also noticed that there are many natural sounds in Prague which you wouldn’t guess exist if you didn’t pay attention to them. In fact, there may be more sounds of nature in Prague than in London. It seems that parks in Prague are wilder than those in most cities in the UK, and that the variety of different species could be higher. What about the other European towns? There is still not much comparative research on the phenomenology of the Everyday Acoustics available.

Milos Vojtěchovsky

------------------------------------------------------------------




‘four quietudes - prague’ - Jez riley French
I capture moments - often times of quietude - moments of stillness within daily life. as I listen I become more and more fascinated by the smallest detail - micro-listening - even the sound of the bag on which I placed the microphone coming to rest; tiny movements - changing ones perception, these four 2 minute quietudes are to me like intuitive compositions or minimal improvisation - the joy of listening closer, deeper is something I am very glad to know....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------






Prague is certainly one of the most visually uncompromising cities I know and like many historical places there can be an imbalance with its audible environment. Yet in all my visits to Prague the sounds I find remain remarkably diverse, much like its landscape. A unique architectural passage is always around the corner and one is never far from a large park to escape the urban streets. A highlight was of course the chance to give an intensive workshop in Autumn 2009 where we could explore the city in depth, including some remarkable acoustic spaces of industrial age wonders like the sewage treatment plant and coal mine facility of Dul Mayrau in the nearby city of Kladno. This was mainly possible through Milos and his continuing efforts to explore the sonic qualities of Prague with its inhabitants and visiting artists.

John Grzinich

-------------------------------
It starts to rain. My window overlooks one of Prague's many enclosed courtyards, and from there, I always enjoy listening to the many activities going on there. This recording is from the afternoon of a late October day. The kestrels and pigeons were becoming agitated as the rain was beginning to fall. More recordings like this and compositions made from them can be found by visiting the nula filecast project at nula.cc.  
thanks -- Lloyd Dunn http://nula.cc/
------------------
notes on some of the tracks - supplied by Milos:
Udo Noll:

1.End of the trams Na Malovance. Tram pole at the abandoned tram
terminus under the Strahov Stadion. Recorded with contact mic.
2011-06-21

2. At the freight train station Žižkov.Heavy diesel engines move
container wagons around, everything is vibrating. Recorded at
night.rec.date: 2011-06-20

Stanislav Abraham:
Ventilation system at Botanical Garden, Albertov
Automatic ventilation system of the roof at the greenhouse at the
Botanical Garden in Albertov. Visitors can enjoy the sounds every
morning at 8.a.m.
rec.date: 2008-09-03

John Grzinich
Bubeneč Sewer Museum water drops
The isolated sound of water drops in the large chamber under the main
hall of the Sewer Museum. The space is made from a single vaulted
ceiling made from brick and filled with water. The voices coming from
groundfloor.
rec.date: 2009-10-31


Quiet sounds in the Vilímek passage
Document from the 'New Maps of Time' sound workshop. This recording was
made from three separate stereo recordings that were synchronized and
layered. The passage was quiet as it is Sunday and closed in the
evening. Mostly it was inhabited by pigeons. Recorded and captured by
Matej, Matěj, Eliška, Lucie, John, Stanislav, Miloš.
John Grzinich
rec.date: 2009-10-14


Peter Cusack
Rubber Tyres on Cobbled Streets
For me this is one of central Prague’s most characteristic sounds.
rec.date: 2008-08-15

Singing Fountain Prague Castle
Peter Cusack
The singing fountain at Belveder within Prague Castle was cast in the
1560s from bronze mixed with bell metal. The water jets produce a
complex of tones that are best heard by ear from underneath. This
recording was made by a hydrophone in the fountain pool.
rec.date: 2008-07-04

Trains Crossing the Smíchov Railway Bridge
Peter Cusack
Sound of trains crossing the Railway Bridge in Smíchov recorded from the
footpath on the same bridge
rec.date: 2009-01-25

Steam machine in the Sewage Museum
Peter Cusack
Steam engine in the machine hall is switched on only during some special
celebrations.
rec.date: 2009-12-12

Strahov, wind in the flagpoles
Peter Cusack
Windy winter day at the Strahov Stadion. The sound of wind and the wire.
Recorded with contact mic, attached on the one of the many iron
flagpoles, standing around this huge, half abandoned building. The sport
stadion was build in 1929. Then it was the biggest stadion in the world
rec.date: 2008-12-04


Masaryk Station Magnetic signals
Peter Cusack
Our current electrical and electronics technologies swamp us in an ocean
of inaudible and invisible electromagnetic radiation and signals. It is
relatively easy to make such signals hearable with cheap devices sold
for recording telephone conversations. It’s amazing what can be found.
These are the magnetic signals inside a City Elephant type train as it
prepares to leave Masaryk Station (Station Mitte).
rec.date: 2008-07-01

Thursday, December 1, 2011


new release

Jez riley French - 'resonances / residences'


two compositions for untreated field recordings & locale

'this is 'slow' music - its about listening, that delicate and overlooked aspect of our lives'



resonances di topolo

aquatic life in a stream | ants eating an apricot | balustrades (day) | balustrades (night)

recorded & composed as part of a residency at stazione di topolo, italy - july 2011

residences de lumiere

light supports along the hozugawa river | neon light in seoul | balustrades of the seoul tower | light supports along the hozugawa river


composed for the ‘lighthouse relay’ project, commissioned by folkstone fringe for the folkstone triennial 2011

recordings made on a concert tour of japan & during a residency at mullae art space, seoul, korea - june 2011



****

....if you so wish
the pieces on this cd can be listened to in the following manner


listen, at the quietest time of the day, with a window slightly open - the volume of the music resting alongside (but not above) that of the locale....

in this way,
each experience of listening is a new realisation of the scores

****

engraved glass egcd040





to order the cd version please see the first post on this website
also available as a digital download:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

now available for free download due to huge demand - 'a quiet position - edition one' is available as a high quality .wav download for a limited time only - so grab it while you can....







a quiet position - edition one - field fest by a quiet position

field recording, in all its forms, has been through incredible creative growth in the last few decades & yet its essential power to engage us in the act & art of listening remains inextricably linked to its subtle simplicity, its ability to make us listen ever more closely to the world in which we move by making us stop for a time....


in October 2011 Field Fest, bruxelles (curated by european sound gallery, q-o2) brings together many artists /composers / musicians whose work involves various aspects of field recording....'a quiet position - edition one' is an online compilation offering you the chance to hear some small elements of that work. it should be noted however that much of the work in this area of music / sound is not ideal for listening via computer speakers so please do listen via headphones or other speakers. I hope you will find the pieces enjoyable, inspiring and thought provoking....thanks....jez riley french


'a quiet position - edition one: FIELD FEST' is now online for your free listening pleasure....

featuring work by jrf, annea lockwood, anne wellmer, mechaorga, eric la casa, els viaene, michael pisaro, manfred werder, peter cusack & more....

direct link:


link to pdf (artwork / track notes etc):



here also is a link to the main web page for 'a quiet position':


Friday, July 22, 2011



tierce - 'caisson'

available now on Another Timbre
&
direct from me / engraved glass






price / postage options








Every few years some people start saying that improvised music has grown stale and is dying. Such prophets of doom should go out more. They could visit Hull – a city which gets as bad a press as improvisation: it too is supposed to be dying and have become a cultural desert. But if you choose the right weekend and can find the right art gallery amidst the city centre’s backstreets, then you might find three men sitting at tables with an assortment of electronic gizmos and general junk in front of them (one even has an old knitting machine…) It’s true that there’s not a great deal to watch as they sit twiddling knobs and switches and scraping this and that, but that’s why there’s a film being projected on the wall behind them – a documentary without its sound, which seems to be about some weird central European guy experimenting with little rockets in an artistic sort of way. And the music the three men make is captivating. It starts hushed and delicate, but switches every so often into a more assertive, even abrasive texture – which might surprise you if you’ve heard these three before. They play for an hour – they kind of have to because that’s how long the film is. But it’s unusually long for an improvisation, and that’s good because you can hear it stretching them, forcing them to open and explore areas that they might not have got to in the safety of a 30 minute set. And as the film’s credits start to roll, the musicians stop, though I can’t work out how they know to, as they don’t turn round and look at the screen. But that’s the end.


Several months later a disc arrives through my door with no label and no note in it. I receive a lot of music through the post, so I’m neither surprised nor particularly curious. But when I play it I am. What is this? It’s really good. And then I remember that Jez said he wanted me to write a few words about Tierce, and I realise that I’ve heard this before. But I’m hooked by now, and I sit through the whole hour again, wishing everything I was sent was this good. As Shakespeare nearly said, “if this music’s dying, then give me excess of it before it shuffles off its mortal coil.” I just wish that other forms of music could die so gracefully, and with such vigour and vitality.


- Simon Reynell (Another Timbre)


review by Richard Pinnell (the watchful ear):

I’m not going to bore everyone with self-obsessed updates on my health today. Suffice to say I’m improving rapidly and am well enough to return to a decent listening schedule, even though I’ve given and in and got out the CD Player’s remote control for a few days to stop me having to keep getting up to press play. I hate remote controls. Grumble grumble…

So tonight a CD that I have been looking forward to hearing for quite some time, the second trio release by Tierce, the group made up of Ivan Palacky, (amplified knitting machine) Daniel Jones (turntable and electronics) and Jez riley French (field recordings and no end of other stuff). The album is yet another release in the new batch from Another Timbre and is named Caisson. To get the inevitable caveats out of the way, while I haven’t actually heard this music before I know a couple of the musicians well, one of them very well, and only my own technical and organisational incompetence kept me from hearing a rough version a while back. As ever though, my thoughts on the music remain, in my opinion, as objective as can be. I think I’m going to write that paragraph up as a separate page and just link to it from time to time ;)

The first thing that hits you about Caisson is how bright and clear everything is. I’m not sure how much tweaking was done at the mastering stage, but this is the loudest I ever heard Daniel Jones’ output before, and everything sounds very crisp and crunchy. Often I hate this kind of thing, but here the tweaks on the EQ (I’m guessing) do bring everything nicely in to the foreground, though at the same time separating the three sets of sounds quite clearly rather than letting them merge together. On the whole we hear vaguely metallic bumps and thuds and whirring percussion from Palacky, little stabs of fizzing and sparking gritty electronics from Jones and field recordings (birdsong, traffic, the usual) from French though his list of instrumentation also suggests he added various other acoustic elements as well.

In some ways this is your everyday modern improvised trio, sometimes blending sounds together, sometimes setting them against each other as jarring shifts in dynamic. There are loud, collective clouds of noisier parts where things boil up into near angry chaos, but also plenty of parts where it all slides apart into near enough silence. What sets this apart from a lot of recent improv however is the way the field recordings are used. They are not disguised, and often sit clearly as part of the music for some time. At around the half hour mark (the entire disc, recorded live clocks in at about an hour) a lengthy recording of a city can be heard, full of traffic, crowd noises, passing trains, the footsteps of whoever (presumably Jez) is making the recording. This field recording at one point dominates everything, For a while there is a nice rhythmic exchange between Palacky and some buzzing distortion from Jones but soon after they seem to give in and just let the recording go about its way, only picking things up again later after French’s cinematic yet overlong contribution ended with the thud of a closed door. When this section passes though, a really lovely section consisting of a sustained sine tone and some deep rumbling metal is very lovely, only really losing impact as its volume rises a little too high and the subtlety is lost a bit.

Caisson moves through all kinds of section then, almost like several separate tracks pulled together into one live set. Its hard to know if any editing took place but if not the way the various elements slide into one another is really quite confidently and adeptly done. The passage that can be heard from around the forty minute mark onwards, looming, dark clouds of something undercut by insistent piecing tones and odd little bleeps and bloops is really very nice indeed. If field recordings are used in this part then they work better here than anywhere, perhaps as they are impossible to identify and so become part of the abstract pieces of the puzzle rather than just a bed for the other sounds to lay over the top of. A more obvious recording then appears for the closing few minutes, some kind of vaguely industrial sounding space complete with large objects banging softly and a brief whistle from someone. Here again though Jones and Palacky drop away to let this audio picture dominate the closing section when I would probably have preferred them to confront it head on, taking it as just another sound element to react to rather than allow its narrative to take the lead.

Still, tiny quibbles aside, this is a lovely album. The music is understated, with Palacky and Jones in particular finding very nice ways to work together as French seems to drive the shape and structure of the music. Its a significant step on from the brief 3″ disc the trio released a few years back, more nicely recorded with better production values and much more space to stretch out and breathe. I suspect that given the multitrack files I might personally have chosen to mix the disc a little differently but that’s just a matter of taste. A very nice release indeed.

review by Julien Heraud - improv sphere blog

Tierce is an international trio of electroacoustic musicians which has existed since 2007: first Jez riley French (electronics, objects, field-recordings, zither, contact mics, etc..), Daniel Jones on turntables and electronics, and finally, Ivan Palacký on amplified knitting machine (... yes you read that right). The performance that gave rise to the disc Caisson was a single piece lasting an hour at a concert recorded in an art gallery in Hull in November 2010.

So imagine a fairly large box or cabinet ('caisson') of any sort, the important thing being the space that it contains rather than its function. Because space seems essential for these three musicians: the electroacoustic music offered here is a kind of sound design in which the sounds define and individualise the space as they fill it. What sounds then? It's difficult to say; it navigates constantly across DIY electronics, field recordings of all sorts (bells, various background soundscapes, birds etc...) and strange sounds that are unrecognisable. All this is mixed together and merged into a single fluctuating, shifting field, which is both light and corrosive, aggressive and calm. No hierarchy is established between the various sound sources, they all belong to a single stratum. And this stratum carves a space out of time, a space that is created at the same moment as it is inhabited by the music.

Of course, there is a particular form of sonic exploration at work in Caisson; each of the three musicians trace a sound world that is strictly personal, but timbre doesn't seem to be their primary concern. They all seem more interested in the spatial properties and characteristics of the sounds: how will such a noise fill the space?, how will the hearing of some other sound be experienced within the spatial environment? Caisson plays above all with sensory perception ("micro-listening" as Jez riley French says in his interview for Another Timbre), the trio plays with the possibilities of changing our perception (which is auditory in one sense, but also visual, and – why not? - olfactory and taste-based) through a careful listening that evolves in a global environment whose objectivity and solidity are here put in question.

However, despite the tranquility that characterises it, this music is also rather tense, doubtless because of these constant shifts and fluctuations, partly as if any form of stasis was feared, but also because of the often abrasive sounds that are used, which progressively fill the space in an apparently ineluctable process. A space that is filled, but not only by sounds: silence also has a prominent place across the spaces of this piece, a silence so pervasive that it becomes the equal of the sounds with which it interacts. Silences of a frighteningly heavy substance. A music that is above all not static, nor linear, but which evolves across an unstable terrain that is in flux, across spaces that are sometimes saturated with noises, or else with silences, but also across airy regions that would be suitable for meditative contemplation. An approach that flirts with the infinite (time as well as space), so calm and poised that no border would be able to delimit this universe.

I haven't heard Tierce's first album, which was released on Jez riley French's label, but Caisson, despite some difficulties in approaching it due to the considerable attention it requires, takes us on a unique micro-sensory journey across a space that the musicians have brought into being and in which they are fully invested. Their approach to sound and its 'intuitive' unfolding is radical, and this creates a music that is bizarre, unexpected and unprecedented, but once you have overcome your cultural reticence, Caisson has the ability to take the listener inside some fantastic spaces where the Kantian categories of perception are annihilated at the same time as they are exacerbated. A supernatural music seems to allow the opening, maturing and fulfilment as much of perception itself as of the things perceived (especially sound, and space and time).

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Barry Chabala & Jez riley French - 'trammels'

eg.p012

limited edition full size taiyo yuden cd mounted on art card + additional art card

eagerly awaited collaboration featuring realisations of 3 photographic scores & one intuitive composition.


to order the cd version please see the first post on this website
also available as a digital download:


review by jesse goin (crow with no mouth website):


That definition certainly comes to mind listening to much of the recent output of fellows like Jez Riley French, Barry Chabala, Daniel Jones, et al. On Trammels, French and Chabala offer four pieces, three photographic scores by French, and a long-distance sound file collaboration. The first two scores are interpreted by Chabala alone; these are works of medium duration and considerable dynamic range. Chabala's assurance and deft handling of appositely placed sounds and silences continues to impress. He works with seamless segues between silent and near-silent sustained tensions, and surges of floating guitar tones that are simply gorgeous.
These are photographic scores that blend, blur, and cross-fade naive guitar melodies, the shimmer and aura of chromatic droneage, the throbs and oscillations captured on recordings of traffic, both aerial and earth-bound, and, on the third piece, where French takes a solo turn, a mesh of elemental colors issuing from French's arsenal of salt, glass, paper and coiled wire. This last, entitled (...) a coda, ranks easily alongside the aforementioned Daniel Jones' exacting When On and Off Collide [Cathnor 007], as the quietest music I've listened to in a long while. [While I am referencing Jones' work, I'll mention it overlaps with Chabala's approach to sustained silences and surges, and you'd do well to check it out].
Weft and mesh are apposite words for this excellent release, as a trammel is a net woven of both very fine and very coarse materials.

review by Richard Pinnell (the watchful ear website):


Tonight then to another new CD on Jez riley French’s Engraved Glass CDr label, a new duo disc by Jez alongside the New Jersey based guitarist Barry Chabala. The disc was put together at a distance, via file exchange, and is namedtrammels. There are four pieces here, the first three of which would appear to be interpretations of some of French’s photographic scores, which are (usually) abstract images sourced from photos taken by French that are then presented without any further text, open to interpretation by the musicians. The first piece, titled bruxelles score #3opens with a bold, urban sounding field recording that captures an aircraft passing over what appears to be a city, though all we hear is a distant blur of sounds. Chabala is (I think) credited with field recordings on three of the four tracks here, and French has a guitar listed amongst his instrumentation so it would be wrong to assume where each of the sounds come from here, though the electric guitar that punctures the field recordings in a kind of slowed down Baileyesque manner certainly sounds like Chabala to me. This piece is nice, simplistic and maybe predictable, but its Chabala’s playing here that really makes the piece, his chiming, quiet guitar patterns, separated into four groupings as per the score’s four images seem to flow out of the murky backdrop in a very natural manner. Thinking about it, as I tip can listen right now its Loren Connors’ music that springs to mind, a kind of slightly disconnected, deathly slow, electric blues. Chabala leaves huge silences though, where as listeners we settle back into the grey of the field recordings, which have actually been slightly treated here and there.
The second piece, another realisation of a photographic score named score for ivan & anna is a different affair. Opening with a simple rhythmic pattern of slowly changing glassy high pitched tones that kind that resemble a church organ, this section lasts a couple of minutes as a very quiet, bass heavy murmur throbs along in the background. The effect at this point in the recording is almost Eno-esque, almost chillingly smooth ambient sounds. After a few minutes though everything does away as the duo follow the chopped up imagery on the score. We are met with virtual silence punctuated every so often with little shuffling sounds, maybe a recording of the salt that French has listed amongst his instrumentation being poured onto a surface of some kind. The ambient tones then come and go as the quiet rustling stops and starts, with much space often between sounds. There is something about this piece that leaves me a little disconnected, most probably the high pitched tones and the connection I make with them, but structurally this is a very nice track that really benefitted me once I listened through headphones as its a quiet affair.
If the second piece was quiet though then the third track, (….) a coda is just about non-existent. For the first five minutes or so, even with headphones it feels like we hear nothing at all, until the slightest, quietest field recording can just about be detected, more featureless urban greyness again, until a few soft tones appear, maybe guitar generated, and still only just above the audibility threshold. The tones stick around for about a minute before they leave just the faint environment of the field recording behind, the odd passing car, the slightest possible trace of dogs barking, all so so quiet that a casual listen would assume the track was silent. This sort of piece obviously appeals to me a great deal. The idea of sounds shifting in and out of recognition, just faint half shadows of things that dissolve back into the blank canvas before they can really be savoured is an interesting one that you might think has been done to death but in fact there isn’t a lot out there quite like this. The fourth piece, named trammels is a busier affair but still doesn’t exactly break any noise barriers. The sounds here are very different, electronic buzzes, bits of guitar abstraction, partly sounding like the instrument being plugged in, but then slowly growing out into pastel shaded little flushes of colour. An acoustic guitar breaks the surface of the silence at one point, just a few stray notes here and there. This may well be the moment that French plays guitar rather than Chabala as some of the American’s incredibly subtle control is missing here but I can’t be sure. Clocking n at twenty-one minutes this piece is the longest here, not my favourite of the tracks but still an intriguing work that balances the ugliness of the rough electronic buzzing against a softer seemingly electronic undertow and the various guitar scrabbling. This piece is the only one not realising a photographic score, and somehow it does feel more loose than the others, which is actually surprising given the somewhat indeterminate form of the scores themselves.
trammels isn’t perfect, there are brief parts which I didn’t enjoy so much, though merely just as a result of them not appealing to my particular tastes, but when it does hit the right spot, as it most certainly does on the third track here, its a really wonderful work. I’d really like to hear somebody produce a full album of music that exists only at the very far traces of audibility like (….) a coda does here, not just leaving big silences, but letting the sounds themselves only just exist as the slightest of smears when they do arrive. For now this track is exceptional, and the rest of the album merely very enjoyable indeed.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Jez riley French - '....until now'
photographic scores 2007-2011

available to view online or to download here

Saturday, March 26, 2011



see CHRIS WATSON using some of my contact mics to explore the hidden inner sounds of trees on BBC's The One Show (friday 25th March edition) - available on bbc site for the next few days


Sunday, March 20, 2011



Jez riley French - 'four objects'
egcd037

limited edition taiyo yuden full size on deluxe, recycled stock art card - first 20 copies come as 2 x 8cm cd (please state when ordering whether you would prefer a standard cd edition or the 2 x 8cm edition)

gathering together four of Jez's most requested & intriguing pieces for single objects


broken piezo disc
teasel plant
slate window sill

flask

to order the cd version please see the first post on this website
also available as a digital download:

review from The Field Reporter blog:


Jez riley French’s Four Objects is an exploration into the amplification of sound miniatures. Over the course of forty minutes French directs his microphones towards four different objects, including: a piezo disc microphone, a teasel plant, a slate window, a tea flask. These pieces are strategically presented without any compositional intent, each of them being unmodified field recordings. As stated on his website French questions the use of processed sound, concerned that it is removing our ability to listen. Four Objects can therefore be read as an exercise in listening, a form of anti-composition which challenges the audience to become fully immersed within its microscopic worlds.
When French isn’t releasing his own material he is well-known for creating microphones. Four Objects showcases them well. The first track, a piezo disc slowly breaking, captures the tiny crackles and pops of a microphone in its death throes. For ten minutes we listen to the various sounds associated with this process. As with the ensuing recordings the piezo disc is presented without any external ambience. In light of French’s raison d’être this sole focus upon a single object enables the audience to be absorbed into its sonic realm without any other distraction.
A teasel plant on a windy day takes us to the surface of this prickly plant as it sways in the wind. A contact microphone amplifies the plant’s fast irregular rattles, each with its own pitch and wooden resonance. Listening to the recording we are drawn into the plant as it moves from side to side.
A slate windowsill captures a low drone-like vibration emanating from the surface of a sill. While the other tracks feature variously recognisable tonalities and slight moments of silence a slate windowsillhas a relentless propulsion that is at once mesmeric and disturbing.
A flask at q-02 is the final track in the release. Here French presents the sound of hot air as it slowly escapes from a tea-flask. The track’s placement at the end of the release seems critical, reminding us that a world of sound lies before us in the most mundane of objects.
French’s Four Objects is as much a celebration of sound as it is about the act of listening. The duration of the tracks requires the audience to listen beyond the limits of their usual attention span. It also obliges the audience to forego the anticipation of listening for climactic sound-events. Instead French invites us to lose ourselves within the moment of listening and to recognise that music naturally exists around us.

from review on the watchful ear site by Richard Pinnell:


Jez releases a lot of CDs, many by other musicians, but also a good few by himself. I still haven’t had the time to catch up with his album released by the Compost and Height netlabel yet. Its here if you would like to sample some of his music in lossless format for free. I have come to think of Jez as something of a hunter/gatherer of field recordings, (though I’m not entirely sure that the description field recording these days really describes suitably what he and other like him actually do). Jez then releases albums of material that seem a bit like documentation of his explorations, audio photo albums maybe, an apt metaphor given Jez’ considerable skills as a photographer....
....they seem to work as little catalogues of recordings that can present some fascinating sounds, discovered in places we might not expect....little moments of aural revelation....
So Four Objects contains four recordings, each exactly ten minutes in length. As you might expect, the four tracks are focussed on recordings of four objects- a piezo disc microphone slowly breaking, a teasel plant found on the Norfolk coast, a slate window sill in Brussells and a hot drinks flask in the same city, which apparently started making the sounds heard here ten minute sand twenty-eight seconds after being filled with hot water.
The first, the sounds of the piezo disc’s last moments consists of a stream of tiny, tinkling, crackling pops and clicks, about as we might expect. What makes the recording nice is the absence of anything else, so the tiny sounds as they flit past sit against a backdrop of white. Apparently the disc was moved slightly to create these little crackles, and so there is some human input into the generation of the sounds. This piece then, sets the mood for the album in general- nice sounds, found by an attentive ear, captured and presented well....
The second track, the recording of the teasel plant reminds me a lot of the extensive listening I have done int he past to Jeph Jerman’s field recordings of cactii. The plant has a brittle, almost hollow sound to it, so the recording we hear has a strong percussive feel. The wind blows the plant, which makes it knock into itself, so creating this contact mic'ed recording. Again, its a nice capture.
The third piece, the recording of the window sill is another contact mic piece, but here the sounds of vibrations on the slate surface take on a strange, alien quality, almost (for some reason) like standing in a long concrete tunnel listening to the sound of dense church bells ringing at the far end of it. Again, it takes a knowledgeable and creative ear to discover this kind of thing, and Jez is remarkably good at finding hidden beauty in unexpected places, a theme that runs through much of his work, audio and visual.
The hot drinks flask is an intriguing one. The statement that the sounds we hear, a sudden explosion of escaping air, occurred at 10′28″ after the flask was filled suggests that this was no accident, and the careful placement of microphones to capture this phenomena also suggests that Jez was expecting this to happen, perhaps having come across it by accident before. What we hear then is an initial rush of sound that slowly breaks up into little stuttering jabs of sound, not at all unlike the sound of raw open circuit electronics we often hear in modern improvisation. I’d never have guessed that a flask was creating the sound, so again the element of revealing hidden treasure is the track’s strong point....
So Four Objects is not at all without its merits....it certainly showcases the remarkable ability of Jez riley French to discover and then reveal to the rest of us a soundworld beyond what we normally perceive.....Four Objects then is a collection of nice, creative recordings....
review by Brian Olewnick / Just Outside website:
Label owner French's latest self-descriptive offering of four 10-minute recordings sourced from four different objects, straddling that hazy line between science experiment and art (often an imaginary distinction, imho). "a piezo disc slowly breaking..." is a delightful track, full of delicate pings and pops, slightly reminiscent of Xenakis' marvelous "Concret pH", the sort of thing I can listen to for quite a while, the sequence of sounds having that nice blend of irregularity on a small cluster level but a general regularity when one moves up a stratum. His recording of a teasel plant is spiny and woolly, a similar area that Jeph Jerman has explored, but somehow wears out its welcome for me after a few minutes. Odd how some things, inherently not so different, have differing effects, I imagine varying widely from listener to listener. The following track, picking up vibrations within a slate window sill is, again, quiet wonderful, the low, complex hums forming patterns I could happily listen to for hours. The last cut, having to do with sounds emitted by a flask filled with hot water some ten minutes prior to recording, those sounds dwelling in the range of sputters and gasps, I find somehow less compelling, perhaps too one-layered, I don't know. But aside from the basic pleasure one does or doesn't derive from the pieces, they cause one to consider why this is so and, of course, to simply listen more closely, always a plus.