Playing Golf (With My Flesh Crawling)

On The Masters (EVERY CONTACT LEAVES A TRACE), the sound artist Henry Collins has evidently taken BBC broadcast recordings of a golf game, and edited out all the audio commentary originally provided by such loquacious types as Andrew Cotter, Dan Walker, Peter Alliss, et al. What remains on Collins’ CD is almost nothing – naught but the gentle sound of golf strokes and balls being hit for long distances, occasionally interrupted by unobtrusive bird song in the background. Regular readers may recall that Henry Collins performed a similar “remove all the dialogue” trick on the Sound Of Music soundtrack, resulting in the puzzling and blank record Music Of Sound for this same label, which we noted in 2014. At least on that occasion he left us some interesting sound effects to enjoy. The Masters, taken from the 78th Masters Tournament (if that means anything to you), has very little going on the engage the curious listener. We could treat it as sort of “found” field recording, but it’s too banal in subject matter for that. The conceptual trick appears to be the central meaning of this work.

One stumbling block I personally have is that I hate the game of golf, and everything about it strikes me as absurd and pointless, its players a clutch of smug bourgeois men in preposterous outfits and bad jumpers from the Pringle catalogue; even the sound of the golf strokes here is enough to get my hackles up and remind me of the confines of the class-ridden, snobbish country that is the UK. On the other hand, perhaps I can take some comfort in the idea that said bourgeois men are conspicuously missing from this recorded artefact, bad jumpers and all, and we’re free to inhabit a stretch of greensward untroubled by their ludicrous antics. But we’re not quite free, as the presence of balls a-flying is a constant distraction as we wander about, whooshing through the air like unwanted giant insects. It’s as though the game was continuing, in some strange schematic form, dotted lines representing the path of the golf balls propelled by an unknown agency. The concept is further manifested by the cover design, featuring spherical indentations printed in white on one side and black on the other. Rather thin content overall; probably more fun to read about than to listen to. From 29 September 2016.

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