Thursday, 30 June 2016

Jonty Harrison - Voyages

Since the UK bought a one-way ticket on the trans-euro (political) express (but has yet to punch the ticket and actually make the journey) the country's in a state of psycho-political chaos and music hardly seems important - and yet - where else can we gain a sense of beauty/truth/escape/relief but in that which gives us pleasure? So the train as metaphor for escape from immediate reality is obvious, excuse me...

Pierre Schaeffer famously recorded a train for the first example of musique concrète (Cinq études de bruits) in 1948 and Jonty Harrison must surely have had that in mind when making his own extended version of that pioneering work. He does, however, travel much further along the track, sometimes to the point of simply allowing train horns to 'speak' for themselves, which on paper sounds dull but proves strangely captivating. A master of sound manipulation, he treats concrète recordings so as to blur the lines between what we think of as 'real' and 'created'. 

These are not just train recordings, but sounds captured from all over the place, one example that leaps from the speakers being part 11 of Going Places, made from 'Floating quays strain at their moorings near Sydney Opera House (Australia)'. Bagpipes, frogs, a street demonstration and other recorded events are woven into this magical journey. Espaces cachés is a separate 14min piece which fully explores the wonders of acousmatic sound composition. Escapism may not be freedom but in these times Jonty Harrison's captivating sound world does, at least, offer blessed relief. Info, samples and shop here.

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