LINE_042 | CD + digital | Edition of 500 | January 2010
“Transparence” resonating dubplate | turntable | field recordings | guitar feedback | ventilator/fan
Gran Coda Andante (07:42) - Aria 1, 13th movement, recorded live at NRD, Torun, Poland, 25 March 2009
The “Transparence” dubplate, developed at O’ in Milan, Italy, works within the physical limitations of the vinyl medium, employing the object as sound source and also sound medium, to become an instrument in its own right. Using the non-linear acoustics of the gallery at O’, the dubplate was recorded, and later cut to disc in Berlin, at very low volume. This ephemeral audio signal becomes present during playback only at high volume, which subsequently produces, by design, a unique physical response from the room, air and amplification – creating deep undertones and blossoming overtones via these manifold resonances; simultaneously, the action of the stylus gently abraids the soft vinyl surface, causing the dubplate’s sound to gradually disappear and evolve, successively losing higher frequencies whilst acquiring new artefacts and crackle. OLTRE documents this degradation and transformation over two months of live performances. The integrated system of subsonic feedback from ventilators, acoustically gated binaural microphones, modal micro-variations in guitar feedback, field-recordings from across remote areas of Australia and the live, physical interplay of the turntable, dubplate and stylus, combine to create a field which moves beyond the original recordings and their individual spaces.
"The best 12k/LINE release in ages – dark, Lynchian eroded tape-loops and analogue menace. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!
The starting point for composer Robert Curgenven’s work is his Transparence dubplate, developed as part of the O’A.I.R. Artist In Residence program at O’Artoteca, Milan. The dubplate was created from feedback recordings that were run through the O’ gallery space, resulting in a drone signal capturing the subtle resonances of the room. Curgenven uses the dubplate as an instrument in its own right, played back into another space as a means of interacting the original Transparence signal with the acoustics of its new playback venue. Further complicating matters, Curgenven’s dubplate is of course in a constant state of decay, in that every time he plays the signal the stylus erodes at the vinyl surface. On this album you can hear the composer at work, utilising the Transparence dubplate with all its all its booming bass and heavy crackle. You are in effect listening to the sounds of the turntable itself, with the faintest of drone sounds suggesting the original recording before the grooves had been so heavily abraded. The pieces here document two months of touring and capture Curgenven’s sound in various stages of its decomposition. Additional layers of site-specific feedback help keep the recordings fresh and interesting from location to location, and the themes of decline and disintegration operate within the same sort of poetic parameters as William Basinski. Highly recommended."
"On this album Robert Curgenven brings together some of the recurring preoccupations of experimental music of the past 20-odd years : signal versus noise; the materiality of sound; the acousitics of particular spaces; playback devices as instruments; the integration of music and environmental sounds. Behind the music—to these ears at any rate—lurk such presences as Alvin Lucier, King Tubby, Murray Schafer, Elaine Radigue and turntablism. At the heart of Oltre is a custom dubplate produced by Curgenven and containing a low-volume signal.
The album documents five live playback situations with the dubplate. With the volume cranked up, the turntable stylus picks up its own signal from the speakers and starts to fee back. The colour and pitch of the feedback are shaped by the acoustics of the space on each occassion and the positioning of the deck relative to the speakers. Curgenven adds live EQ to the warm, spreading tones produced in this way and combines them with more layers; guitar feedback, subsonic sound from an electrical fan, the signal from gated binaural mics dunked in drinking glasses, and field recordings made in the Australian outback (where Curgenven lived for a number of years). Each of the performances builds on the core dubplate sound to produce distinct realisations of the piece. The dubplate, meanwhile, degenerates with each successive play, losing high frequencies and gaining crunchiness. All the careful attention to ‘process’ wouldn’t matter as all, of course, if the end result weren’t so compelling. But the dovetaiiing of harmonics and the beautiful layering of the sounds yeild an incredibly rich textural experience. The huge low end of “Gran Coda ANdante” underscores the ‘dub’ in ‘dubplate’, the ambiguous harmonies of “Largo Capriccioso” never quite settle, and the relationship between feedback, vinyl crackle and sounds such as cicadas in the bush takes many imaginative shapes.
Throughout the album Curgenven keeps an alert eye on the interaction between space, performer and technology—the effort pays off for performer and listener alike."
(The Wire, UK)