Sounds

Clearway (8 Channel, Fixed Medium) (2014)

Clearway presents tension and similarity between synthetic, mechanical and natural soundscapes.
The piece incorporates samples taken from a Buchla modular synthesiser, a scrap metal yard and other various field recordings. Incidental sound events trigger developments in the opening section, before proceeding to explore a variety of textures and densities whilst maintaining subtle interventions from the previous material.


Clearway was composed during a residency at EMS Stockholm, July 2014. The source sounds were recorded in Belfast and Stockholm.

 

Cold Wood (Bass Trombone, Live Electronics and 8 Channel) (2014)

Cold Wood takes its name from a disputed translation of the village of Forkhill, which lies on the foothills of Slieve Gullion. The original meanings of placenames are often distorted by the passing of time, much like the interpretations of the myths which have emanated from the forests surrounding the mountain. Late at night this forest can seem almost silent, creating the space for an active and imaginary soundscape to develop, as if echoes of these stories prevail.

Cold Wood combines the soundworld of the Bass Trombone with late night recordings from the forest, teasing out fragments and subtleties from these seemingly disparate subjects and blurring the lines between sources to create ambiguity. The presence of the recordist is exaggerated within this delicate soundscape, embodied within the performance by the movements of the musician. Cold Wood was composed in collaboration with Paul Wilson.

 

Balconry (32 Channel, Fixed Medium) (2013)

Balconry opens a window on real and imagined soundscapes, and the spaces in between. The source material was mainly recorded on a balcony overlooking a train line, and points towards the city centre of Belfast. The balcony links inner and outer worlds, acting as an immediate portal between the enclosed, indoor space of the apartment and a vast urban environment. The coalescence of spaces creates ambiguity, as one space merges and interacts with the other. Technology, both inner and outer, exacerbates this tension as it has ingrains itself in the sonic environment. The fusion of these elements triggers our imagination, revealing unexpected spaces.

 

Arcando (Alto Saxophone, Coil Microphone, Live Electronics and 8 Channel) (2013)

Arcando creates a dialogue between the hidden sound worlds of both the instrument and the computer. The nature of the relationship between the saxophone and the laptop is explored, as the laptop provides the opportunity of ‘freezing’ a particular moment in time in a way that almost allow the instrument to accompany itself. Capturing moments in time also allows a deeper concentration on the subtleties and nuances of the saxophone’s spectral content, creating a soundscape of frozen events and a structure with which the instrument can interact. As the coil microphone unveils otherwise inaudible electromagnetic activity, the laptop takes on the additional role of accompanying instrument and also provides harmonic material. Arcando was composed in collaboration with Franziska Schroeder. 

 

Manoeuvre (8 Channel, Fixed Medium) (2012)

The sounds of machinery and technology perhaps contain the disembodied presence of the original human input, though the process of removal leaves them not part of the maker or machine, but as part of the sonic environment. Distinctions between what is ‘natural’ and what are mechanical sounds become blurred, but contribute holistically to our daily experience. Such is the integration, the presence of the mechanical is sometimes exacerbated – or perhaps only becomes clear – when these sounds are removed. The spatial context of the sonic events greatly determines the experience, ranging between anxious intimacy and passive immersion.

 

Coast (8 Channel, Fixed Medium) (2012)
Coast contrasts diametrically opposed portions of Ireland’s coastal sonic environment. Whilst the captured events are unique in space and time, this juxtaposition reveals that a roaring and powerful expanse of water can at particular moments become almost delicate in its intricate subtlety, and, conversely, be smothered into non-existence when confronted by the gargantuan sounds of industry. Experiencing the growing intensity of mechanical sound exacerbates the minute details of the coastal soundscape when revealed. This disparity offers a glimpse of the complexity of the coastal soundscape, sculpted by the discernible presence of the composer: a subtle reminder of the intermediary processes.

 

Country Stroll (Stereo, Fixed Medium) (2012)

We are often bombarded with technological interference and disturbance, self-imposed or otherwise. ‘Country Stroll’ simulates a failed pursuit of tranquility in the face of this bombardment, which offers only momentary relief.

Residual Shelter (Stereo, Fixed Medium) (2012)

“A house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability” (Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space).

Residual Shelter is based upon the sound world of a derelict house: a place of shelter echoing its own past – at once empty and uninhabitable yet frozen in time and full of references to its previous existence as a home. The ‘sonic identity’ of the building is explored: informed by its immediate soundscape, sonic events imposed by the presence of the composer, and an imagined soundscape based on visual clues.


En Route (Stereo, Fixed Medium) (2012)

Transport leaves a continuous trace on the soundscape and acts as a consistent ‘keynote’ of the urban sonic environment –providing an element of familiarity on the daily commute. Little attention is paid to these vociferous sounds, but by fragmenting distinctive acoustic features of familiarity within a new context they acquire added significance. En Route attempts to tease out musical ideas from this daily experience.

 

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