Room40 is an Australian based imprint and multi-arts organisation existing at the nexus of contemporary sonic art and music practices. In 2015, Room40 celebrates 15 years of activities with a series of curated evenings across the globe. Working with artists from the label’s eclectic roster, Room40:15 will take place in Australia, the UK, USA, Japan and Northern Europe across 2015. The events take various forms responding to the contexts in which they are set. In Australia, Room40:15 takes the form of a series of new commissions for presentation as part of two double evening concert events in Sydney and Brisbane during July/August. Artists participating include label head Lawrence English, Grouper (USA), William Basinski (USA), Paul Clipson (USA), Chris Abrahams (AU), Rafael Anton Irisarri (USA), Tujiko Noriko (JP), Erik Griswold (AU), John Chantler (SE) and many more. Public lectures, presentations and field trips are also planned in conjunction with curated evenings and events.
Wilderness of Mirrors is the new album from Lawrence English. It is two years in the making and the first album created since the release of his 2011 ode to J.A Baker’s novel, The Peregrine. It is English’s most tectonic auditory offering to date, an unrelenting passage of colliding waves of harmony and dynamic live instrumentation.
The phrase, wilderness of mirrors, draws its root from T.S Eliot’s elegant poem Gerontion. During the cold war, the phrase became associated with campaigns of miscommunication carried out by opposing state intelligence agencies. Within the context of the record, the phrase acted as a metaphor for a process of iteration that sat at the compositional core of the LP. Buried in each final piece, like an unheard whisper, is a singularity that was slowly reflected back upon itself in a flood of compositional feedback. Erasure through auditory burial.
Wilderness Of Mirrors also reflects English’s interests in extreme dynamics and densities, something evidenced in his live performances of the past half decade. The album’s overriding aesthetic of harmonic distortion reveals his ongoing explorations into the potentials of dense sonics.
“During the course of this record,” English explains, “I was fortunate enough to experience live performances by artists I deeply respect for their use of volume as an affecting quality, specifically Earth, Swans and My Bloody Valentine. I had the chance to experience each of these groups at various stages in the making this record and each of them reinforced my interest in emulating that inner ear and bodily sensation that extreme densities of vibration in air brings about.”
The album is moreover a reflection on the current exploitation of the ideals of the wilderness of mirrors, retuned and refocused from the politics of the state, to the politics of the modern multiplex. The amorphous and entangled nature of the modern world is one where thoughtless information prevails in an environment starved of applied wisdom. Wilderness Of Mirrors is a stab at those living spectres (human and otherwise) that haunt our seemingly frail commitments to being humane.
“We face constant and unsettled change,” English notes, “It’s not merely an issue of the changes taking place around us, but the speed at which these changes are occurring. We bare witness to the retraction of a great many social conditions and contracts that have previously assisted us in being more humane than the generations that precede us. We are seeing this ideal of betterment eroded here in Australia and abroad too. This record is me yelling into what seems to be an ever-growing black abyss. I wonder if my voice will reflect off something?”
Wilderness Of Mirrors is reflection upon reflection, a pure white out of absolute aurality.
RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI
The follow-up to the much acclaimed “The North Bend,” “The Unintentional Sea” continues Irisarri’s development of landscape inspired musical renderings. Like the Salton Sea of today his latest edition is a gently churning portrait of fluidity. It’s a record that sounds like staring at a vast ocean in light breeze. Layer upon layer of currents swirl below the surface, while gentle surges and waves coalesce creating fleeting patterns and moments of intermeshed sonics. As these elements meet and break away again, a sense of motion – both micro and macro – is created, a rendering of the ocean calm before the inevitable storm. Coated in a thick blanket of bass tonality, flickers of light catch on the crests of these waves, uneasy jewels of sonic light that appear as quickly as they disappear.
Chantler released his third solo LP for Lawrence English’s ROOM40 label in 2014 – ‘Even Clean Hands Damage the Work’ recorded for the most part at the hallowed EMS studios in Stockholm follows ‘The Luminous Ground’ – released in 2011 and included in The WIRE magazine’s top releases of that year. That was his first LP release focusing on the modular synthesizer system he first explored as part of the trio LP with Lawrence English and Tujiko Noriko – 2009′s ‘U’. Live, he patches a versatile system capable of self-generated, shifting patterns of sliding arpeggios and visceral noise, pointillist interjections and infinitely variable texture.
Iniated in 2011 with a private edition LP, Chantler’s ‘Automatic Music’ series resumed in 2014 with a second volume on cassette via The Tapeworm and volume three coming as a 40 minute digital download of ‘Automatic Music for Henry Flynt’.