Lucy Railton/154/Sarah Hennies/Mary Jane Leach/Eliane Radigue
“Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties – all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion – these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated” – David Foster Wallace
The philosopher Alain De Botton has suggested that we live in an era of loneliness, an age where disconnection has a direct correlation to contemporary literary aspiration. De Botton argues that we all feel we may have a novel, an autobiography, a biography, a travelogue, a blog, buried within us somewhere, just waiting to be exhumed: the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer!
De Botton surmises that we write ostensibly because we have no one close that will listen to us. We record our thoughts, messages in cyber-bottles, and cast them into the virtual oceans of the world wide web, because we are lonely. Stranded, on the desert island of the cult of the individual. We write because no one is listening, they are all too busy with their own individual pursuits to take the time to embrace our obsessions.
In terms of my own writing, I find resonance in De Botton’s theory. I founded trakMARX in my mid-thirties, estranged from the vibrant cultural scenes of my formative years, already entrenched in love and marriage, like a horse and carriage. In retrospect, the musical connectivity that had been so important in sustaining my relationship with my then-partner had already begun to wane. Our tastes, once so collective, had begun to wend their own inevitable ways. My refusal to mellow felt like a statement of intent: I would not be going gentle into that good night. I felt the time fly, I felt the time crawl, like an insect, up the walls. The speed of the sound of loneliness.
Lucy Railton – ‘Paradise 94′ (Modern Love):
“We could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace” – Bill Hicks
This came at me out of nowhere. I’d heard the name, I knew of the association to Beatrice Dillon, but I had no preconceptions. No expectations. The sleeve shone from the pages of Boomkat, as records invariably do, on a daily basis. To be fair, they all look beatific, framed on the page, shining like distant galaxies, seemingly within reach, but a financial transaction and a postal journey away, exquisite works of art, demanding to be owned. As I listened to the snippets of sound available, I became immediately enraptured. Lifted up. Before long, I was on YouTube, considering ‘Pinnevik’, intently:
Within the space of this clip, the purchase had been made. I spent the ensuing evening on tenterhooks, awaiting the midnight hour, when I could redeem the download portion of my order, and begin my relationship with ‘Paradise 94′. The clock finally struck the appointed hour, the bytes began their flow down the wire. A river unafraid of becoming the sea. My first listen was thus shrouded by the weight of the previous day, as I forged a pathway into the new dawn. Despite the fatigue, I knew instinctively that I had found something idiosyncratic.
Lucy Railton, cellist, composer, performer, experimentalist, collaborator, electroacoustic artist, alongside the aforementioned Beatrice Dillon, has enhanced the work of Russell Haswell, Ensemble Plus Minus, and the London Sinfionetta. ‘Paradise 94′ is her debut solo album. A graduate of London’s Royal Academy Of Music, Railton has been keeping her solo powder dry since 2008. During this time she has amassed a wealth of archival work, location-specific material and studio recordings that have been sewn together here with care to create the tapestry of sound that is ‘Paradise 94′. Capturing abrasive aspects of industrialisation amidst passages of seduction and allure, Railton has assembled a spectrum of sound that fascinates as it beguiles. The immediacy of these recordings transcend their collaged presentation. The album’s 34-minutes slip by in a heartbeat. There’s a synchronicity with the space being explored elsewhere in this column by Sarah Hennies. The album reaches its emotional payload with ‘For JR’, an oasis of melody within a desert of dissonance, before gliding out on the looped glissandi of closer ‘Fortified Up’. I’ve reached a plateau in the elevation of my appreciation of the potential of sound with ‘Paradise 94′. Nestling amongst a palate of artists that include Beatrice Dillon, Sarah Davachi, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Sarah Hennies and Mary Jane Leach, Lucy Railton acts as a portal of possibility in a universe of conformity. Space: the final frontier.
154 – ‘Wherever You Go I Will Follow’ (Boomkat Editions):
14-years after his influential debut as 154, 2004’s exemplary ‘Strike’ (Delsin/NWAQ), Jochem Peteri returns with a post-everything symphony of stunning emotional import. Recorded in response to the birth of his second child, this a record that exudes a love of creation, celebrating the gift of life through passionate simplicity. Underpinned by two sporadic bass notes, the osmosis of digital and analogue elements eddy around the mix in a somnambulistic ritual that evokes the tidal movement of waves lapping on sun drenched beaches. Intensely sensual, spiritually liberating, meditative, ‘Wherever You Go’ condenses 8-minutes into relative seconds, only for ‘I Will Follow’ to expand the theme across a further 10-minutes plus. A sense of emerging into the light pervades, an aural depiction of something we’ve all experienced: our entrance into this world. ‘Wherever You Go I Will Follow’ is therefore a genuine born again moment:
Sarah Hennies – ‘Embedded Environments’ (Blume Editions):
Recorded in the bowels of Silo City, Buffalo, NY (above), ‘Embedded Environments’ marks Hennies’ debut for electronic/electroacoustic label, Blume Editions. Exploring similar natural reverberations to that of Áine O’Dwyer‘s investigations in Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s tunnel with ‘Gallarais’ (Mie), Hennies experiments over two sides here with a brace of compositions: ‘Foragers’ and ‘Embedded Environments’.
‘Foragers’ rumbles from the speakers, a rolling thunder revue that’s barely there, yet strangely ominous, nonetheless. Auspicious without recourse to either shamanic suggestion or hippy-dippy implication, the congruence betwixt created and atmospheric happenstance beats at the heart of this inherent duality. Silence fills the gaps: silence as instrument, silence as voice. ‘Embedded Environments’ is raucous by comparison, a heady clatter of rhythmic insistence, chasing shapes as they shift across graffitied concrete, colliding in space and time. In terms of psychogeographic and socio-political sonics, Hennies is challenging the norms and values of avant approaches with this astonishing, breathtaking record. Wrapped in gold dressing, enhanced by the trademark Blume obi, pressed to gold wax, the only thing that spoils this phenomenal package is the shocking proof-reading that reduces Bradford Bailey‘s (The Hum) sleeve notes to frankly amateur status.
Mary Jane Leach – ‘Pipe Dreams’ (Blume Editions):
Our second featured Blume Editions release has been biding its time in the pending pile since the death of last year. Resplendent in its deep purple jacket, obi and purple wax, ‘Pipe Dreams’ represents somewhat of a second coming for American composer, Mary Jane Leach. Recorded at St. Peter’s in Köln, Germany, during 1989, ‘Pipe Dreams’ is coupled with ‘4BC’, from 1984. A compositional pioneer of NYC’s Downtown avant-garde since the ’70s, Leach has released but two previous outings in all this time, and, astoundingly, ‘Pipe Dreams’ is her first ever solo vinyl release. A contemporary of luminaries such as Julius Eastman, Arthur Russell, Arnold Dreyblatt, Ellen Fullman, Philip Corner, Daniel Goode, and Peter Zummo, Leach is herself enjoying an artistic rebirth with ‘Pipe Dreams’.
‘Pipe Dreams’ itself could be seen as a precursor to Áine O’Dwyer‘s ‘Music For Church Cleaners Vol. I & II’ (Mie). Leach effectively forms a close personal relationship with the space in which she’s creating, the notes from St. Peter’s pipe organ cavort across the airwaves in a state of perpetual flux. ‘Pipe Dreams’ brings serenity to the party, invoking reverie, massaging aspiration, sewing seeds of hope where the weeds of despair have run rampant. Ultimately, the 23-minutes of ‘Pipe Dreams’ are a profoundly cathartic experience, exorcising negativity through being here now. Meditative sonic immersion, psychoacoustic healing at its finest. ‘4BC’, meanwhile, is a piece composed for four bass clarinets, a drone masterclass that snaps at the heels of Tony Conrad, John Cale, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela.
Elaine Radique – ‘Feedback Works – 1969-1970’/’Vice Versa, Etc. 1970′ (Alga Marghen)
Originally released as a double package, both of these albums are available once again in new editions from Alga Marghen as separate entities. As a neophyte to the art of Elaine Radique, my introduction to her body of work has been revelatory. A student of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry at RTF’s Studio d’Essai in the 1950s, the birthplace of musique concrète, Radigue’s oeuvre has largely only come to the attention of a contemporary audience over the last ten years. With the aid of an ARP 2500 synthesizer, the tones created on this brace of astonishing records involved the manipulation of feedback loops, pitch-shifted to forge microtonal harmonies and ultrasonic frequencies radically different from those emitted under normal circumstances. A young mother at the time of recording, Radique worked at night while her children were asleep, bringing a profoundly nocturnal ambience to the recordings. When you consider that the approaches developed here almost 50-years ago are still emerging contemporarily in works such as Kevin Drumm‘s recent ‘Inexplicable Hours’ (Sonoris), Elaine Radique’s burgeoning reputation as a pioneering legend of experimental sound creation is entirely justified and ancient.