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(Unfathomnless 2013)

Review by Caity Kerr

In the artists’ own words:

‘Efequén’ is a recollection of the geomorphological structure of the island of Lanzarote which I visited in March of 2010. During one week I had the opportunity to amass various sounds in different parts of this volcanic and arid land. My initial goal wasn’t to represent a pure or realistic sound map of this island, but rather to interlace it with my errancies during my time there. My intention was to transcribe the sonic sensation of this semi-arid wilderness surrounded by limitless ocean.
I built my score by assembling, merging and permuting the sound fragments that I had collected. I worked to reveal my personal aural perception of this delimited land, where volcanic activity is still underlying, where nature appears hostile but is under permanent reconquest.

So the artist’s agenda is as follows: an amassing of sounds; an intention not to represent ‘realistically’ (Realistically) but rather to transcribe; to reveal a personal aural perception. There’s a lot in there for discussion, for example I’d be very interested to learn more about the representation versus transcription issue.

Arrecife. ‘In Arrecife, I spent several hours with my stereophonic microphone gear, recording crowd and human activity. The harbor was also a focal point where I had the opportunity to use my hydrophone setup.’

There’s a very strange spatial incongruity at work here in this track – human voices seem to be emanating from a universe or multiverse which has little or no spatial relation to the clearly environmental sounds. This collision of spaces becomes a recurring feature throughout the album.

‘Ciclos is a hybrid combination of sound elements from bubbling aquatic plants, a decaying metal bridge and aeolian effects on constructions.’

Ciclos offers us a busy sound world with several conflicting narratives: the water, hints of distant voices, more abstracted material, material clearly focusing on the overwhelming effect of broadband noise, whether it be wind, sea, river or even structures in motion.

‘Los Caletones is a specific sandy bay to the north of the island where I made a series of recordings from the action of the ocean ebb and flow on volcanic black rock.’

Yet more immersive textures – weighty seascapes, filtered layers, confusion of the spatial information arriving from simultaneous strands of the texture. By this time we’re aware that certain aspects of the soundscape are going to reappear throughout.’

‘Atlante del Sol is an abandoned hotel in the south area of the island exposed to the elements in the middle of lava fields. This sonic piece is built from debris and objects found cast up by the ocean.’

A fine soundscape piece this, especially at the beginning – lots of mystery, very filmic and musical in that sense. I could make out touches of what sounded like a ‘flutterverb’ delay, though it might be artifacts casued by timestretching as opposed to an added digital effect. Whatever the case you get a clear sense of the material being worked by the artist.

‘El Golfo is a small locality on the southeast coast of Lanzarote close to Timanfaya National Park, a protected area. I achieved capturing the sound of black sand swell from the beach at El Charcos del Ciclos.’

You’ve heard a lot of the same sounds by this time, but that’s to be expected in a project like this. Outside of the sounds themselves there’s not much else begging for interpretation. You just let the sounds wash over you which might actually be preferable to having to visit some of these islands, drink lots of beer and eat pie and chips in the company of Britain’s finest revellers.

‘Efequén’ is released on Unfathomless, a thematic ltd series focusing primarily on phonographies reflecting the spirit of a specific place crowded with memories, its aura & resonances and our intimate interaction with it…

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[Jeremy Mathes]

Jeremy Mathes discography
Unfathomless website