Land War

Have noted Matthew Philip Hopkins previously for his 2014 release Nocturnes, where he created loop pieces with his electric guitar and pedals; “doleful delta waves echoing to and from nowhere in a state of uneasy anaesthesia”, wrote Stuart Marshall. Now appearing as MP Hopkins, he has released Aeroplanes & Puddles (MAP09) as a very limited (now sold out) cassette tape on the Slovak label Mappa.

This one is documentary site-specific sound art with a vaguely critical purpose; he has made recordings of an industrial area in Sydney near the Sydenham railway station. Presumably this zone is pretty derelict and run-down, as Hopkins points out that the property developers would love to move in and build apartment blocks on it, but there are two problems – the area is prone to flooding, and it’s directly on the flight path from Sydney airport. Hopkins thinks all of this is just great; he’s totally against what he regards as “unscrupulous” property developers, and indeed his press release contains a mini-rant against this aspect of late capitalism which affects “large cities all over the Western world”. For this reason, he sees the aeroplane noise and the puddles of water as a type of “resistance”, as though the geography itself were opposing these planning changes. The industrial area has a life of its own and is staging a protest.

Well, going by what we hear on the tape, it’s a fairly non-violent protest – all we hear is aeroplane drone, ripples of water, and a vague wispy droning produced by what I assume are Hopkins’ electro-acoustic insertions, or else just general background hum from the city. We also hear his intoning voice (well, it’s more like a bemused murmuring) as the composer delivers himself of various utterances, reading from a cut-up text that mixes a Federal government speech with excerpts from a 1970s radio play. Rarely heard such a languid sound art statement, even within this genre which is not exactly noted for its event-filled aural experiences. Still, it remains true to its intended scope and is a well-integrated site-specific work. The tape version is packaged in a bag with inserts printed on paper and acetate. From 23rd February 2018.

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