31 окт. 2012 г.

David Dunn - Music, Language and Environment

Dunn's work is a call for the re-enchantment of art and a beacon for a whole generation of composers and ecologists.

This adventuresome CD is a retrospective of David Dunn's music from 1973 to 1985. For Dunn, sound is an instrument for research in deep ecology, with radical implications for our relationship to everything around us., In its thoughtful yet playful encounter with nature, Dunn's work is a call for the re-enchantment of art and a beacon for a whole generation of composers and ecologists.

Brushing through back issues of THE WIRE as I listened to this (seeking out comparative reviews to give you, my reader, a more complete, less biassed view of music of today and yesterday) I happened upon their review and, rather than reading it to see what they had put (very bad thing to do) I did happen to see that they referred to the ambience of the album, and the rough quality such a 'live' recording has. While I didn't read on to see if they found this a favourable quality, I can tell you that this reviewer was mightily impressed. There I was, in pain with a bad back, on one of the few hot days we have had in the UK, unable to write the stream of thoughts I was having into my PSION as the heat always screws it up. But being outside, listening with headphones on leant the album an even better dimension. The opening piece, a stark STOCKHAUSEN-esque minimal thing, just trumpets and environment, is simplistic but very tasty. Fanfares and fragments, occasionally reminding me of THROBBING GRISTLE around the time of "Heathen Earth". And due to the ambient sounds - which are often more intrusive than the actual instruments - the long gaps between notes are less pauses than solos from the 'other musician'. The second track moves in a very different direction, placing you in the heart of some great electronic machine. What sounds like birdsong mixes with the sound of a journey through raw computing devices and robotic factory ambience. But these aren't the clean, sterile electronics of pcbs and microchips - this is the dusty hot and sparky world of big glass valves, the primordial soup of modern technology. The third piece takes you further down avenues of primitive technology - you are now travelling through the wires of pre-PC telephone systems, where ghost voices travel down hot wires, imparting abstract vox populi conversation to massage the voyeuristic nature a little like SCANNER might, if he were to push the limits a little more.
The second disc opens with the same 'Open University' star cluster of notes as track one on the sister disc, only this time the sound if a lot more complete, notes coming in and out to complete an overall body of sustain. It's like VARESE frozen in time, with the single event cloud stretching out into an almighty drone. And at over half an hour in duration, it has a long way to stretch! Track two returns to the outside world, zapping the wildlife which chatter and chirrup with 70's arcade game laser guns. I guess it attempts through harsh electronics to immitate the birds which join in with their song. I cannot help but feel that the natural and artificial sounds were brought together in some other environment, although there are definitely moments when the two protagonists kinda harmonise. If this had been recorded on location, the piercing sounds, instead of startling the birdlife, actually polarise them, causing them to try, as it were, overshouting the alien (in the truest sense) invader. The third and final track here again visits the kind of sustains explored on the first track of this disc. This time the non-harmonized instruments which bond together like the individual strands on a length of rope, all similar in dimension, but adding to the overall ductile strength of the whole.

Overall a minimal, and as WIRE pointed out, hardly a top quality recording. But then it may have lost something in the more sterile, pure environment of a recording studio - it has a fascinating, intriguing sound - less a work of music than the mind which decided to create it. When the plane goes overhead in the first track, it creates a subsonic hum which in itself is music. Don't expect to dance to this, but there's some interesting things at work, which are often harsh and discordant. A prerunner of Harsh Noise maybe, or a far less honed Avant Garde Classical work.

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