Flither and slipe. JAMES WYNESS
(Reekin Lum 2013)

Review by David Velez

James Wyness’ ‘Flither and slipe’ is a successful example of the two most important formal aspects of the compositional work: 1) the search for a source of sounds to work with, and 2) the subsequent manipulation of those sounds.

Based on photos and the sonorities I assume that this work was made by performing actions with certain objects in some sort of ‘Foley-like’ exercise. Here we can observe that the boundarie between improv and ‘field recordings’ is equally clear and blur: what happens when we interact with our environment and make it our own studio? When it happens is the environment still the subject of our exploration? I don’t think so.

In regard of the recent concern of many sound artists that have collaborated with The Field Reporter towards making field recordings a ‘genre’ I agree, I don’t consider ‘field recordings’ a genre in the same way that I see painting, drawing and photography as lines of work that can complement each other.

Anyway I see a BIG difference between contemplation and interaction. One thing is to let the aleatory circumstances to interact with my environment and the objects contained on it; here my role as composer is where to approach it from; where I stand as the beholder.

…and a complete different thing is when I interact with this environment and these objects.

My reason to bring up this subject in relation with ‘Flither and slipe’ is that for the listener a documental phonographic work and an improv based work is enormous. When I listen to ‘Flither and slipe’ I feel closer to a musical experience, I feel this is about James Wyness aesthetically creating a series of events and narratives that emotionally appeal the listener. But it goes further than this…

Again, based on photos and sound I sense a methodology behind this release, I sense a craft and acoustic exploration of materials and objects which fully paid off, this is beautiful music allowing us to feel and think differently; allowing us to be immersed in an acousmatic experience where we can enjoy a delicate, active and carefull process of composition.

For me ‘Flither and slipe’ has a lot to do with percussion; has a lot to do with the physical interaction with things to produce sounds allowing for rhythm and materiality to become the center of exploration.

Anyway I would also like to point out that another of the reasons why I consider this work so fortunate is that it  deals with backgrounds to the more objectual and rhythmic sounds. Here James Wyness felt important to have an environment,  a base, a context; and on the fragments where those sounds are left alone, a beautiful sense of loss and departure subtly emerges.

In regard to the whole ‘field recordings as genre’ discussion I would like to add that acousmatic sound composition based on performative actions is just part of a bigger line of work that we can call music but that also has a lot to do with cinema, sculpture and even theater and dance. When listening to an acousmatic composition the sound object becomes some sort of imaginary and personal film that we simultaneously produce and watch parallel to our experience with the sound piece. When the artist starts to explore materials and create his own instruments his process is close to that of the sound sculpture. Likewise all the activity behind the physical performance in quest of improvised sounds implies a series of actions that strongly involves the artist’s body similar to what happens in theater and dance. All this in regard to 1) the search for a source of sounds to work with.

In the other hand you have James Wyness as the manipulator of existent sound matter. The film screen-player and editor. The sculptor who uses sound as raw stock that is bended, stretched, compressed, molten, liquified as in 2) the subsequent manipulation of those sounds. Here memory becomes the place where thing are produced…the deliberated and aesthetic process of building a time-based art piece pursuing open narratives and an a structural sense of emotionality.

At both aspects this, I repeat, is a very successful work.

Note: Although this release is not available yet I was given a preview copy and based on it I wrote this reviews.


James Wyness website
Reekim Lum website

James Wyness

Sound artist.