How does one capture the essence of a landscape so as to describe it to another who has never been there? The vast majority of us would rely on words and pictures, but how many of us would think of trying to do this strictly with sound? Not music, mind you, but sound. That is the unique perspective & artistry of the field recordist and there are few out there as inquisitive, resourceful, and discerning as Kate Carr. She has steadily built a creative practice around exploring both human and natural geographies.using field recording, experimental composition and sonic mapping. Recently during a residency at Joya: AiR in Velez Blanco in southern Spain, she decided to undertake a sonic transect of the mountain facing the villa where she was staying.
Over the next two weeks I lugged my equipment up and down the mountain, pausing every 100 metres to sample or attempt to ‘play’ a very precise and small location. In this way this release attempts to stitch together a mountain pass in sound, a succession of played and recorded sonic niches from the radio in the villa on the valley floor, to the vibrating low-growing woody shrubs braving the rocky peak…It is a quiet and strange document I think, which I hope conveys something about remoteness, and a sense of a physical journey through a very specific landscape via sound.”
It was difficult not to become giddy at the prospects when this collaboration between Siavash Amini and Zenjungle (Phil Gardelis) was first announced by Flaming Pines. These are two of the most potent and expressive voices in experimental ambient and drone music on the scene today and the idea of them joining creative forces was tantalizing to say the least. While it would not be wrong to say the end result exceeded my expectations, it is probably more accurate to say it obliterated them with the stunning and imaginative work of fearsome beauty that is Topology of Figments. The abstract concept behind the record is the vivid exploration of the characters, places, and memories we invent and which become part of our personal and shared identities. Siavash and Phil explain it this way:
“Sometimes we cannot separate the imagined colors, textures, spaces, or even smells from what actually existed or exists.It’ s in such activities that we create spaces never imagined before; hallways, valleys, rooms, textures on a wall, a howling distant sound in a giant metropolis. These spaces can be thought of as explored but not owned by any person. No one has ever made claim to them. In these tracks we have tried to imagine some of such places, live in them for a while, walk their paths without ever stopping for too long. This album reflects how we understand many of these imaginary lands, leaving them behind as they were (are).”
Last autumn Flaming Pines released the first installment in their new Tiny Portraits series, “small renderings of place in memory and sound” by ambient & experimental artists from around the world that took us to a volcanic island in Japan, a street corner in Hanoi, a square in Athens, and a quiet park in Tehran (read the ST review here). Each one is a kind of sonic interrogation by the artist in response to the questions that drive the project.
“Sound and place are two terms often thrown together, but what actually connects the two? Sure places sound differently, or may shape the sounds that enter them in particular ways but in what ways is sound actually able to capture and convey place? Is place something to be captured at all?” – Flaming Pines
How far and wide the series will go remains to be seen, but it is a welcome sign that an excellent new quartet of works is now available from artists representing Hungary (Peter Turner), Latvia (Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva), Russia (Foresteppe), and Ukraine (Gamardah Fungus). Continue reading
Flaming Pines label founder Kate Carr has developed a highly regarded and multi-faceted creative practice “centered on articulating the relationship between people and place through sound”. In addition to her own sound work, she has curated a variety of wonderful conceptual series, the latest of which has seemingly unlimited potential despite its ostensibly diminutive name – Tiny Portraits.
In Listening to Noise and Silence, Salomé Voeglin talks of soundscape compositions occupying a site ‘between preservation and invention’ – an attempt by the composer or field recordist to retain the essence of a site inevitably results via the processes of recording, composition and listening in the creation of somewhere new. Tiny Portraits asks each participant to dwell on these connections and disconnections between sound and place, representation and invention by starting somewhere small, somewhere overlooked or obscure, and to interrogate this site using sound. – Kate Carr
Vanishing Point is the latest full length recording from one of the leading lights of the fertile electronic music scene based in Iran – musician, producer and new media artist Arash Akbari. It has been released by Flaming Pines, a label founded by sound artist Kate Carr based in Sydney, Australia.
Iran’s Arash Akbari’s Vanishing Point nestles into inbetween places, revelling in the indistinct, the delicate and the mysterious. Bringing together field recordings taken from northern Iran, guitar and electronics, this is a late night album, an album which soothes, a set of sounds to think to. This is an album which lingers in the margins of consciousness, it conjures images gently, caresses them and ever so slowly lets them fade from view. – Flaming Pines