Responses

by Various Artists

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about

In the winter of 2018 I was thinking about the role of control in creating a piece of art or music and wanted to explore what would happen if that control was in some relinquished. I hit upon a process that I wanted to use to create a number of pieces that would come into fruition without my hearing them until they were finished. I recorded the sounds of eight different objects (run of the mill household items) and used these single sound sources as the basis for each piece. I employed the same process with each recording: The sound was pitched down, the result was then pitched down a second time creating three layers of the same recording. Each layer was then randomly cut up using software and re arranged across the screen. Some of the cut up portions were then erased. I only listened to the results once all of the above process had been followed for each one and would then judge whether it had been a success.
Once I had eight pieces I was happy with I sent them to the musicians who appear on this album, one piece per person. Their brief was to respond to the recording in whichever way they wanted; either overdubbing onto it, remixing it or even discarding it and coming up with something else completely. It was important to keep to the theme of chance and random interaction.
(MA 2019)

I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do this, but credit to Matthew Atkins where credit is due: the sound artist recorded eight different household objects, manipulated the results a bit, and sent the files on to other sound artists to manipulate even further. But here’s the thing – he didn’t impose ANY rules on this project. It could have been total anarchy – he even gave his correspondents the option of discarding the recordings completely and working on something completely new, INSPIRED by the discarded recording! While we calculate the lost royalties Atkins could have recouped, we venture deep into the recesses of “Responses,” and we wonder at the mysteries of physicality contained within…

OK, that was a bit dramatic, but the point is that eight of Atkins’s contemporaries responded, which is basically why this tape is called “Responses,” clearing up some of the mystery. The results are a cornucopia of processed field recordings, remixed, reworked, re-envisioned to fit the particular respondent’s idiom. Many sound like handled and used objects, the energies of their collisions with other objects captured and presented. By John Macedo’s track, “Response 7” (track 4), we realize that something different is afoot as digital mayhem ripples through the speakers. Brigitte Hart’s “Response 2” (track 5) features as its main element a spoken poetic passage – certainly not a manipulated object (unless you consider the voicebox an object). I think we’re getting into “inspired” territory here.

Martin Clarke’s got a trumpet or something, Phil Maguire has digital bees, and is that an actual song buried beneath Blanc Sceol’s entry? (It’s subtitled “North Song,” which is the only “response” with a subtitle – and no, it doesn’t really sound like a song.) The idea is, every track has the stamp of its collaborator on it, even though there’s a definite throughline of cohesion that circles back to Atkins’s original ideas. Though we don’t know what those recordings actually sound like, but we can certainly speculate on the family resemblance of one to the other. That’s probably the neatest trick of all on “Responses,” rules be damned. (Tabs Out)


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Minimal Resource Manipulation London, UK

MRM is a DIY label for experimental music curated by Matt Atkins, a London based sound and visual artist whose principle interests are reductionism, chance, repetition and texture. He uses objects, percussion instruments, occasionally a laptop and cassette recorders to create sound collages in both the recorded medium and live, often in collaborative performances. ... more

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