The Well is constructed from sounds recorded in Istanbul: voices, machines, footsteps, tunnels, but also bronze cymbals and electric guitars. But it is not purely phonographic, it’s a personal journey through layers of narrative, memory, sounds and music – an attempt to uncover the secret well that lies deep under the city.
Decades after the fact, French composer Luc Ferrari recalled that the first time he played “Presque Rien” for his colleagues at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, their faces turned to stone. Such dismay is often the fate of any art that takes its medium to a wholly logical yet previously unacceptable conclusion, let alone art that changes the game. This 21-minute piece, which was first heard in 1970, did both, and the work of contemporary artists as disparate as Chris Watson and Vanessa Rossetto owe it a hefty debt.
“The Glass Concert” given periodically between 1968 and 1973 (76 times, to be exact), Annea Lockwood’s 1973 LP The Glass World is the composer’s most recognized work. The original performances took place in the dark, with most of the sounds being produced offstage and amplified into the concert space. On-stage antics included “curtains of fine glass tubing; trees of bottles inverted in a spiral pattern; a mobile of large panes of wired glass, surrounded by mirrors.”
It’s been said that many make sacrifices for their music, but, in the recording of 4 Rooms, Jacob Kirkegaard went above and beyond. Almost 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, Kirkegaard traveled into the villages surrounding Chernobyl, places largely uninhabited and still teeming with radiation, an unheard and unseen but never forgotten result of Reactor 4’s fateful meltdown in April 1986.
9.11.01 Scapes was composed to accompany a series of collaged images created by Jo-Anne Green the day New York’s World Trade Center was attacked. Green’s palette consisted of NASA images of earth and photographs of diatoms and ground Zero. Each Scape consists of multiple layers. Thorington used the layers’ titles, and the texts that accompanied the NASA images to weave her multilayered narrative for the Notes; and much as Green used found ‘pigments’, Thorington used found sounds to create the soundscore for the series. 9:11:01 Scapes was the winner of an Honorable Recognition, Prix Bohemia Radio Festival, Czechoslovakia, 2003; and the Winner, Aether Festival, KUNM-FM, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2003.
The most important thing for my field work is the possibility of describing the experience of landscape,” he reports. “I want to know how to fix the experience of landscape. It’s a different method to using photography to fix it. We can see the outline of objects clearly in photographs. But when recording, things are not so clear and it is difficult to distinguish what vibrations travel in the place. It’s like a moving sculpture.