North North 18:58.
(Homophoni. 2012)

Compositions using field recordings generally fall into two categories: those that describe a location, and those which explore environmental or social themes. However there are also compositions which enjoy experimenting with the qualities of particular sounds, where the musicality of field recordings is manipulated into an unrecognisable form through the tools available to the composer. ‘North North 18:58’ belongs to this later category. Devoid of any specific location it encourages the audience to immerse themselves in heavily distorted synthesised lines which weave their textures around a recording of a storm.

‘North North 18:58’ begins with small drops of rain recorded inside a metal sphere, followed by analog synthesisers with polyphonic drones. The tone created in ‘North North’ 18:58 is that of a work heavily dependent upon studio technology. Purists could raise some objections to this approach, yet in truth field recording is reliant upon studio intervention and technology in one form or another. Whereas some compositions attempt to disguise the technology that produces them, ‘North North 18:58’ revels in the juxtaposition of the naturally recorded elements and those from the studio. This has resulted in an emotionally intense composition which might indicate the direction that some field recordists will take in the future.

Also of interest is the collaborative aspect of this short work. Three people were involved in its creation. Joda Clément and Pau Torres worked on analog synthesisers whilst Tomasz Krakowiak worked on percussion. Their shared understanding of the abstract sounds performed in the piece has created a work which is unified and tight, with neither performer overwhelming the field recordings or each other.

The synthetic and natural elements that have contributed to this work inundate the audience with lines of sound which steadily build into a crescendo of jazz-like improvisation. Processed layers of sound rise and fall until they gradually deteriorate as if belonging to some archaic technology. Listening to these layers en masse we hear a strongly constructed wall of sound, yet there is enough space left for the audience to follow them individually as the lines fade into a hypnotic descending crackle. By the end of ‘North North 18:58’ we have been transported through a range of emotional responses, this being quite an achievement for a work which runs at just over ten minutes.

[up: Joda Clément, down: Tomasz Krakowiak, right: Pau Torres]

‘North North’ 18:58 is available as a free download on the Homophoni label. While popular music on major labels continues to become more homogenous and sanitised it is comforting to know that net-labels such as this are keeping experimental music alive.

-Jay-Dea Lopez

Joda Clément website
Tomasz  Krakowiak discography
Pau Torres discography
Homophoni website

Jay-Dea Lopez

Sound artist and journalist at Sounds Like Noise.