Ground of Being: quiet and intense works of found sound and prepared instrumentation


Annea Lockwood, Ground of Being, Recital, CD R7 (2014)

I believe that for an artist with a long career, Annea Lockwood does not have a very large catalogue of recorded work in her own right so this recent CD of pieces spanning a 17-year period from 1996 to 2013 is a welcome addition that hopefully might herald more recorded releases. Lockwood’s work typically includes recordings of natural found sounds such as the sounds of falling water and birdsong mixed with more conventional instrumentation used in unconventional ways that might mimic and blend in with the musique concrète elements. She has also composed music involving treated piano: the piano strings are often detuned with very small objects such as balls, stones and a gong.

On this album are featured two short tracks and two longer pieces that showcase Lockwood’s compositional methods and the various incidents in her life that inspired her to create the music. An early piece “Buoyant” is based on Lockwood’s summer holiday experiences on Flathead Lake in Montana state and her visit to the Hoboken Ferry Terminal to view a friend’s art installation: the water sounds from Flathead Lake and those of the metal gangplanks made by the breeze created by ferries coming and going are a mysterious combination. “Ear-Walking Woman”, the first of the two long compositions, can seem quite awkward and a bit ungainly and hesitant in some of its noises, none of which sound anything much like a piano, but in its own way it exercises a hypnotic spell over the listener. Every moment is gravid with the potential to become something very different: something darker perhaps, more delicate, happier or gloomier – whatever actually happens is often a great surprise.

The title track includes recordings of dehydrating trees and their ultrasonic clicks, slowed right down so as to be heard by human ears. The effect is extremely eerie in a piece that has a cavernous and almost drily monastic atmosphere.

The album is very quiet and several of the musical experiments here are very good in their execution – the found sounds and instruments blend in so well that I don’t dare to try to tell them apart – and the effects achieved can sometimes be quite intense. While the music is interesting, it does tend to be very self-effacing and introverted compared to what I have heard from other female improvisers and experimentalists like Maja Ratkje and the late Maryanne Amacher, and I wonder if the sometimes laidback and quiet¬†nature of the music has been a handicap to Lockwood’s solo recording career in some ways: all the more reason for us here at TSP to keep seeking out and champion artists like Lockwood who prefer to stay in the background and let their art speak for itself.

Contact: Penultimate Press, Recital

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