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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jez riley French - 'four objects'

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


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’ĂȘtre 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 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.


Ron Swanson said...

Want to buy this on on CD-R, but the PayPal button seems not to be working right. Doesn't send me to to a "cart" page, just to the PayPal login screen...

Other products seem to load into cart OK, but not this one & it is the one I wanted...

Jez riley French said...

sorry about this - will fix that now & it should be sorted later today (march 8th). thanks for your interest & for letting me know !

Unknown said...

As stated on his website French questions the use of processed sound, concerned that it is removing our ability to listen...Could you point me towards this part of your website as I can find it. I am writing a research project at the moment about site-specific sound and processing and would love to hear your thoughts.

Jez riley French said...

Hi Will,

there are various articles that i've written over the years on this subject + interviews etc - also on the wider issues around listening. If you visit my main website (link below) you'll find some links to the more recent ones available online: