Excerpts from the album. Now available from Experimedia.net. To celebrate the exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels at Durham Cathedral from July to September 2013, award-winning wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson has researched the sonic environment of the holy island as it might have been experienced by St. Cuthbert in 700 A.D. Throughout human history, artists have been influenced by their surroundings and the sounds of the landscape they inhabit. When Eadfrith, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, was writing and illustrating the Lindisfarne Gospels on that island during the late seventh century and early eighth century, he would have been immersed in the sounds of the holy island while he created this remarkable work. This production aims to reflect upon the daily and seasonal aspects of the evolving variety of ambient sounds that accompanied life and work during that period of exceptional thought and creativity. Cuthbert was an Anglo Saxon monk, bishop and hermit who became prior of Lindisfarne in c. 665. In later life Cuthbert felt called to be a hermit and moved to the nearby island of Inner Farne to begin fighting the spiritual forces of evil in solitude. Cuthbert became associated with the birds and other animals on the island and gave special protection to the Eider duck which is still known locally as Cuddy’s duck. Photography: Maggie Watson; Design: Jon Wozencroft; Sound mastering by Denis Blackham, Skye. Texts by Chris Watson, Dr. David Petts, Lecturer in Archaeology/Associate Director of the Institute of Mediæval and Renaissance Studies Dept. of Archaeology , Durham University, and Dr. Fiona Gameson, St. Cuthbert’s Society, Durham. Includes a 24-page booklet with texts and photos.
No longer standing behind a pseudonym, Geir Jenssen, better known as Biosphere, also does away with much of the electronic treatments and digital manipulations that have made him a standout artist on Touch Music. The album’s title, “Stromboli,” is taken from the name of a volcano off the north coast of Sicily and Jenssen documents its simmering movements and random outbursts of activity for the duration of the record. The rustling organic textures could easily be lapping waves or swirling leaves, but the threat of sticking a microphone into a still active volcano does add a certain sense of danger to the proceedings as well as a thick layer of intrigue to the listening experience. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia
In the past Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard has occupied the five releases under his own name with a scientific bent and was always careful to “omit any deliberate emotional or ‘musical’ intention,” according to the press release. That changes considerably on “Conversion,” at least in approach. With the help of the six piece ensemble Scenatet, Kirkegaard takes two prior recordings issued by Touch – one of ambient stillness from a church in Chernobyl, the other consisting of tones generated by Kirkegaard’s ears – and interprets them with the bowed strings and gliding tones of classical instruments. It’s a tall order considering the abstract and ephemeral source material, but Kirkegaard does follow a lineage of having works for tape and electronics transcribed into classical ensemble pieces, particularly Gregg Kowalsky’s “Tendrils in Vigne” and Wordless Orchestra’s version of William Basinski’s “Disintegratoin Loops.” ”Conversion” maintains its roots more than those two works, and the results are excellent and unexpected. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia
Thomas Koner has reaffirmed his stature in the experimental music world during the past two years, mostly due to the string of reissues from his early solo career and the 1996 debut album from the duo Porter Ricks. These recent editions came via Type, but for his first new album since 2009’s “La Barca” Koner finds an even more appropriate home: Touch Music, the purveyor of all things oblique and subtle in forward-thinking sound. ”Novaya Zemlya” is the most minimal album in ages for the label as Koner focuses the album’s three extended tracks on a variety of low-level hums and obscured field recordings that are crushed into fine bits of dust. The album’s quiet, barren soundscapes hint at vast worlds as seen through a keyhole, providing mystery and intrigue rather than explicit detail and description. Traces of barely identifiable sounds occasionally waft through the atmospheres – cracks of thunder appear on the first track while the last holds distant piano notes – but Koner’s focus lies in abstract restraint, just as it always has. - Ryan Potts
A lovely album of cello/voice/electronics compositions by Hildur Gudnadottir recorded live at the Music Research Centre (University of York) in January of this year. Touch’s press release notes that the original live recordings have not been edited as “to be faithful to time and space.” The effect of this move is the establishment of a sense of intimacy and even immediacy in these glacially moving string compositions. The album begins with a brief string prelude before the centerpiece, “Allow The Light” takes center stage. Thirty-five minutes in length, the piece is really quite beautiful, with angelic, clarion vocals eclipsing beautiful string arrangements for cello. Midway through the piece its initial frailness gives way to a more spectacular and assertive movement, building to a frenzied mass of bowed strings and booming electricity clouds. Impressive and immersive listening, and typically top-notch presentation by Touch. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia