Monday, 24 November 2008


Just back from a week in Zlin (Czech republic) appearing at the Mixer festival - run by students from the Thomas Bata University.

First impressions of Zlin aren't promising but spend a couple of days there & you'll soon find countless architectural gems. The city was more or less built by the Bata company as a factory town & the functionalist architecture is stunning.

Many of the old shoe factories are given over to small shops & most have empty floors that one can wander around recording. Of particular interest is building 21, designed by the great Czech architect Vladimir Karfik. This was the Bata company headquarters in Zlin & Bata's office is a standout feature. Basically it's a large square room with Zlinolium flooring & wood as far as the eye can see. A large desk & a wash basin in the corner - but the suprise is that the doors close & the whole office is basically a lift ! fantastic.

anyway, I could waffle on for ages but instead here are some pictures:

Monday, 17 November 2008

Jez riley French - 'pocklington canal head / wansford canal and watton beck' review

review from 'The Wire' (December 2008 issue):

'two pieces comprising untreated field recordings of Yorkshire waterways, recorded with the composer's self built hydrophones. He insists that it's not the technical perfection of a location recording that he's after, but a sense of emotional interaction with the landscape. That's not to say that he's slapdash with his methods - both tracks have a fabulously evocative tactile quality that clearly demonstrates the composer's attention to, and delight in the most minute details of sound. The result of such open-hearted diligence is a brief, captivating mini-cd, beautifully packaged (Richard Skelton's work comes to mind), and which reminds us that listening is the most important part of composition' - Keith Moline

*please note: there are now only 8 copies left of this limited 3inch release*

Matt Sansom

For those of you unfamiliar with Matt's work I strongly suggest you take a good trawl through his website (click here) which has a good collection of location recordings & extracts from several of his installations. He is also currently running one of the UK's only 'soundscape' courses - at Surrey University.

With many 'sound artists' now making use of field recordings (most with limited success & often a distinct sense of them jumping on whatever bandwagon they can to bloster thier lack of creativity & originality) the best of Matt's work captures something of his individual approach to his inspirations.

One such example is his piece 'heardhere' (for Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2007):

'The sounds we hear around us are dynamic. They signify our engagement with the environment and continually change as we move through and interact with our surroundings. The contexts created by these activities determine what and how we hear as much as the sounds themselves. Similarly, hearing and listening are shaped by the contexts generated our inner world of memory, intuition, emotion, desire, will, belief, and so on. As Douglas Pocock writes, 'something is happening for sound to exist ... it signifies existence, generates a sense of life, and is a special key to interiority.'

heardhere is a sound installation and collection of site-specific audio treatments for mp3-player. Strongly connected with the auditory culture of Huddersfield, the installation makes exclusive use of location recordings of the town centre and the audio treatments, although incorporating a broader range of sources, are designed as responses to specific town locations. Together, they raise questions about the status of what we listen to and the ways in which we listen. On one level it reasserts the idea of the musical value of everyday sounds, and on another it invites a response to the deeper significance of sound and of our connection with it.
The installation, using elements of repetition, reduction , and stillness, is an inwardly focused exploration of the elemental and essential qualities of the urban soundscape. In contrast, the site-specific treatments take listeners back into the environment for modified listening experiences of 'live' auditory space. The work as a whole is born of a desire to listen to sounds, their relationships, contexts and meanings in order to reflect on what they reveal and say beyond themselves' (from Matt's website)

audio extracts can be found here

Matt is also about to unveil a new work for the HCMF - a set of metal dishes permanently installed in the Colne Valley, accompanied by a sound walk - details here