split LP with Matt Davies
Side A. Machinefabriek: Onkruid
Side B. Matt Davies: Lee Valley Park Bird Sanctuary
12 inch on A Room Forever, June 2008
This is a very limited piece of vinyl, in an edition of 300. The sleeve has a high quality c-print cover with a stunning, dark photo by Kurt Magnum. Every released is based on the idea of 'field recording meeting composition'. Side B is obviously the field recording, done by Matt Davies, whom i especially asked for this project, having more experience in that field then me. My track is an edit of music made for an art installation, about the flora on a building ground.
No sooner had we finished listing last week's amazing box from Svarte Greiner - and it sold out, so this second instalment in the amazing "A Room Forever" label/art project is unlikely to touch the sides. This time round the music comes to us from composer/improv master Rutger Zuyderveldt under his Machinefabriek moniker (there's an excellent piece about him in this month's Wire magazine - well worth checking out), with the b-side handled by Touch affiliate and artist Matt Davies who provides some incredibly immersive field recordings. Once again the record comes packaged in a custom made box adorned with high quality digital c-print covers and letter pressed insert - with each one hand stamped and individually numbered. With all of that out of the way, however, we weren't quite prepared for the almost overwhelming aural engagement of Machinefabriek's 'Onkruid' - a track so layered and haunting it really does feel like the most vital and important piece of music in the vast Machinefabriek canon to date. It opens with a submerged hum of strings and found sounds that immediately bring to mind Arvo Part or the more recent appropriations of Marsen Jules, but the way Zuyderveldt handles the material you're left with the sense that at any minute the individual layers will start to fold in on themselves and multiply, or alternatively - fall apart. This is music of barely containable proportions, demanding emotional involvement at an almost unnerving level - and eventually rewarding you with tension and catharsis in a subtle and barely perceptible sonic manoeuvre that will leave you breathless. It's just a truly remarkable piece of music from this hugely prolific artist - and impossible to capture fully in one sitting. Over on the flipside, Matt Davies carefully assembles field recordings taken at the Lee Valley Park Bird Sanctuary, the hum of found sounds joined by the distant, seemingly pre-ordained cascade of birdsong and fluttering wings, making their own subliminal kind of music in a way that seems to have been designed to fit in with these musical surroundings. It's a strangely reflective piece and indicative of the kind of emotional resonance the best kind of field recordings manage to achieve - you're left with a nostalgic and wondrous mental image of a beautiful moment in time captured for eternity on this ge-old format. It's a moving and somehow inspirational end to this magnificent record - and exceptional package. Please HURRY if you want one of these - consider yourself warned!
This long in the works vinyl project finally sees the light of day, and the results are more fantastic and striking, both sonically and visually, than we could ever have imagined. We'd been hearing about this series, a boxed set of vinyl records, each with one side of music, one side of field recordings, a sort of physical extension and manifestation of a long running podcast, both the podcast, and these lps, an experiment in the art of listening.
Each lp is limited to 300 copies, comes housed in an oversized box, with a gorgeous actually photographic print affixed to the cover, inside a metallic inked, letter pressed insert. You have to see them to believe them, well worth the price, as they are visually stunning, and the music is breathtaking.
The first volume is from a long time aQ fave, Rutger Zuydervelt, aka Machinefabriek, who handles the music on the A side, while someone called Matt Davies handles the field recording side. Zuydervelt is definitely up to the task, as he comes up with the dreamiest most beautiful Machinefabriek piece we've heard, a distant glistening shimmer, over a warm whir of slow surfacing melodies, muted buzz, and breathless soft focus drift. A looped landscape of pastoral shimmer. Part way through the track builds in intensity to a sort of soft cacophony, but quickly drifts back into bleary eyed dreaminess. The track goes on for what feels like forever, ending with a stretch of serene low end murmur, laced with muted sonar pulses and a deep ominous blurred melody that sprawls right beneath the surface. So lovely.
Davies' side is pretty much a straight field recording, sounding like some sort of wilderness, but not too far removed from civilization, the sound of wind and water, the twitter and tweet of birds, car horns (?) far off in the distance, traffic, wind and rustling branches, eventually some more close up sounds, something rubbing against the microphone, the crack of breaking branches, then a warm hiss that sounds distinctly like rainfall, the recording is sort of lo-fi and gives the ambience a washed out vibe, almost as if it was made, not recorded. Once the rain comes in, the other sounds fade to a distant hum, and the sound is not unlike falling asleep on your back porch on a warm, wet summer afternoon.
The cover photo is gorgeous, an ice field crisscrossed with tire tracks and other striations, all dark blues and washed out whites, the insert is silver ink on letter pressed textured black paper.