Search results for: norderval

In the River of the Night

Lilly Joel

Lilly Joel
What Lies In The Sea

The whimsically monickered Lilly Joel is neither person nor parody, but a decade-old collaboration between Belgians Lynn Cassiers (vocals) and Jozef Drumlin (keyboards), which seems to have outgrown any mirth that may once have attended their choice of name. But like their near-namesake Billy Joel, their province is in the Rivers of the Night, in which the synergy of their overlapping talents for crepuscular vocal and sound constructions coalesces in a nocturnal mise en scene of gentle non-sequiteurs and glitchy dream fragments that are gently brushed by grainy distortion, softly echoing keyboards and spectral thumb pianos. From the chiaroscuro of opener ‘I Sea Star’ to the dulcimer-dimple mire of ‘A Wheel in the Palm of Your Hand’, Cassiers’s voice, which I had expected to play a dramatic lead, is but a rumour among wonky sound clouds, which might have germinated between Boards of Canada tracks, when suddenly and fleetingly it manifests itself like the missing link between Julee Cruise and Pram’s Rosie Cuckston, with a hint of the detailed electroacoustic voice work of Kristin Norderval.

Cashiers defines herself not as a singer but a sculptor and Drumlin operates with a similar MO, and the analogy fits once we consider the album not as a ‘ten years in the making’ effort, but the product of a shared language that is still developing. With unfailing intuition the pair employ all manner of electronic effects that evoke an interior wonderland, some corridor to childhood sensibilities. Every ungainly sound seems set to sink into backdrops that shimmer in and out of clear focus, eagerly avoiding anything resembling a pattern. This perpetual reshaping obviates the divulgence of distinct emotions, but blends and blurs all feeling into a pot pour of counterfeit sensation, yielding a sense of incompletion that barely finds resolution in the closer ‘Dew’, where words pierce the murky stew of blips and waves like dolphins surfacing from a moonlit sea. Initially rambling and deceptively complex, it’s an inviting listen for darkened rooms everywhere.

andrea borghi

Andrea Borghi
USA CONTOUR EDITIONS ce.cd_0006 (2015)

I make no secret about my love of abstract sound art in the morning, daytime and evening; anytime my thoughts have yet to cohere (or degenerate) into a state of post-oneiric functionality. Passers-by have even been known to try my front doorbell, assuming my abode to be an art gallery of low profile. Such a psychopomp as Andrea Borghi therefore meets my needs perfectly with his slightly stuttering, low-end radiations from Ryleh and in-the-speaker cellophane crinkling that envelopes a catalogue of scrapes, rattles, squeaks and crackles, all of which add dimension to his capacious, electro-varnished psycho-auditorium.

Salnitter or Saltpeter – known to non-alchemists as Potassium Nitrate – is a potent oxidising agent derived via lixiviation and recrystallisation from a substance produced on animal dung when exposed to air. Combined with sulphuric acid, it produces Aqua Fortis or nitric acid; a solution used for dissolving metals such as silver or for colouring wood or ivory. Borghi doesn’t divulge the personal value of such terms, but would have us reflect that alchemy is ultimately a personal science. His inscrutable musical processes reflect a ‘continuous and constant material revision of various… sources, being explored, taking shape and evolving over the years… accomplished algorithmically with a MAX/MSP patch… allowing for various levels of control and aleatoric results to take shape’. Nothing ostensibly out of the ordinary perhaps, but then alchemy is ever unspectacular to the profane. The art however is alluring, housing the CD in a tasteful mauve, limited edition Strathmore paper sleeve. An invitation to deeper exploration.

Natural Kingdoms


Sub Loam
A Concise Dictionary of Plants and Their Uses

Again and again I return to this intriguing mini CD from Sub Loam (i.e. saxophonist and SP reviewer Thomas Shrubsole), as if it would yield to me its mysteries, but alas! Swiftly am I ensnared and borne upon its pulsating airways, yet just as swiftly it’s over! Where fled those rogue minutes? In this wise, concise designates more than botanical taxonomy, though both here are central concerns: manifest in the splicing of Shrubsole’s pithy breath work and the bloom and swirl of spectral electronic backdrops. Most distinct is this in the first of the three untitled pieces: multiple rows of delicate, trowel-headed honks slowly summoning wispy, electroacoustic spirits, while at the same time suggesting an attitude of horticultural preparation that inspires me to chop carrots in concert. Tracks two and tree are (even) giddier: a tiny sax twittering like butterfly wings caught in swerving currents of pure colour; and finally a slow kaleidoscopic reimagining of all that has preceded. It’s an unearthing of unearthly sensations that could well uproot your mental stability. 39 further copies of the CDR are in existence, all of which are accompanied by a hand-numbered A4-sized abstract print by the artist.


Maile Colbert
Come Kingdom Come

‘Experimental Opera’ eh? Had I read up on this one before listening I might have run for the hills, being victim to an atavistic fear of histrionic melodrama that such terms provoke, but a fair shake I duly gave and rewards were generous in proportion. The otherworldly sombreness and apocalyptic/natural philosophy bent of multi-media artist Maile Colbert’s Come Kingdom Come locate it somewhere ‘twixt similarly evolution-themed concept albums such as Bjork’s Biophilia and The Knife’s Tomorrow, In a Year. While neither as colourful as the former, nor sterile as the latter, it proceeds like a white-shrouded assembly of natural/locational recordings, narcoleptic clicks n’cuts, piercing sine waves, and more conventionally ‘operatic’ tropes in the form of soprano Gabriela Crowe’s glacial exhalations 1. In this eight-part saga, the drama unfolds like time lapsed hiero history as the theme of man’s uncertain relationship with fate is explored with gratifying sobriety.

Drawing partly on The Book of Revelations, Maile meditates upon our perennial millenarianism: juxtaposing our apprehensive entry into the present millennium (remember the Y2K bug?) with that of the one prior, serving as a reminder that the illogical tendency to idealise or catastrophise the evidence beyond our collective senses remains a constant psychological failing. While occasionally charged (though never quite overwrought), a sense of detachment, separation and loss permeates: the ebb and flow of voices outside of time bleeding through stringed webs and distorted in billowing mist. These echo from imagined pasts: the lilting ghost girl liturgy in some ancient choir stall in opener ‘Ouverture for that Day’; the more medieval chants from which arise discernable Latin and English phrases deeper into the album, re-emerging on occasion from the organic melange to unsteady our sense of time.

Underpinning this ‘End Times’ allegory, Colbert has blended in location recordings of disaster areas before, during and after their life-changing events 2, including seismic tremors, tsunami and Chernobyl’s desolate silence. In fact, the live performance of this work began in darkness, immersed in VLF recordings of a sun storm hitting earth’s magnetosphere, followed by a blinding blur of indistinct images designed to emulate the sensation of bright light on eyelid. Sadly, the pre-recorded experience will prove less intoxicating, though still we experience the thematic and textural counterweight to the layers of luscious harmonics that permeate even the most austere moments of the album, resulting in a sonic tapestry as complex as it is elegant, and perhaps as multi-faceted as nature itself.

  1. Which are not unlike those I remarked upon in Kristin Norderval’s CD Aural Histories in 2013.
  2. ‘Before’ striking me as disconcertingly prescient, though I know not how nor when Colbert came by these recordings.

The World in a Grain of Sound


Kristin Norderval
Aural Histories

The simplest things are sometimes the most difficult to master. Breathing for instance. Try counting 50 breaths without thinking of a football score, or coordinating breath with complicated body movements. Try slowing down to 10 second breathing ratios. Try vocalising as you inhale as well as exhale. Not so easy, unless you are one Kristin Norderval. her ‘stories without lyrics’, compiled in this CD cover more than a decade of focused experimentation with the breath and the vibrations it carries. The selection of 10 ‘post-ambient arias’ ranges from vocal-based to purely electronic, the subtlety and intricacy of which better merit a listen than a write up. Several were in fact composed for dance performances, though how something often resembling laptop musique concrète translates into kinaesthetic action is something of an enigma.

Three of the pieces (‘A Flat Ground’,’ A Summons’ and ‘Circadian Singing’) utilise a single-take improvisation as their sound source, though the post-recording work was presumably quite intensive. The first (recorded 2001) – a decade the junior – is the most involved, its echoing, Seurat-like layers of sedated sighs summon up Bjork’s Medulla’s thick, moonlit seascapes, traversed by Tim Buckley’s Starsailor. It would sound comfortably at home on David Toop’s superlative compilation, Crooning on Venus. The latter pieces are more subdued and spacious; the singer’s early predilection for more detailed tonal textures sublimated into more isolated venues for fricative trills and gasps, and inhalation/exhalation enunciation.

Elsewhere, the voice is supplanted by machine as the primary sound source: coffee makers, microwaves, incubators, antique motors and Mexican radio among them; all are processed and incorporated into a finely-spun whir that frequently intrudes on the foreground figure(s). In ‘Glass and Mirrors’ for example, Norderval’s dream world appears to have been permeated by Annea Lockwood’s glassy, glacial resonance – its amorphous tendrils grasping intangibly at her liquid lyricism. Inspirations, another of Norderval’s ‘meditations on breath’ evokes a riverboat diva forever adrift on a Moebius strip of water, her suspended soprano register punctured and thwarted by fragments of cottoned brass; vexed by the seeming endlessness of the mechanical dreamscape.


Half Day at Bank

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Friday 26th October 2012

First two minutes of show are missing

  1. Pilesar, ‘Pill Planner’
    From Stereo Space, USA NO LABEL CD (2012(
  2. Under The Carpet, ‘Sizes Performance And Capacity’
    From Under The Carpet, RUPTURED RPTD009 CD (2012)
  3. City Surgical, ‘Guajara Mirim’
    From Dilaudio Day, USA NO LABEL CD (2012)
  4. 1982 + BJ Cole, (Track 05)
    From 1982 + BJ Cole, NORWAY HUBRO MUSIC HUBROCD2522 CD (2012)
  5. Forma, ‘Forma 278’
  6. Jérémie Ternoy Trio, ‘Dessus’
  7. Ehnahre, (Track 03)
    From Old Earth, USA CRUCIAL BLAST CBR99 CD (2012)
  8. Hitoshi Kojo, ‘Seminal Weavers’
    From High Tide Mirror, POLAND SHINING DAY SHINE 12 / OMNIMEMENTO OM06 CD (2012)
  9. Ratchet Orchestra, ‘Hemlock – Part 1’
    From Hemlock, CANADA DRIP AUDIO DA00820 CD (2012)
  10. Sky Burial, ‘There I Saw The Grey Wolf Gaping’
    From There I Saw The Grey Wolf Gaping, USA SMALL DOSES DOSE115 / FIRST LIGHT FL01 CD (2012)
  11. Alessandro Bosetti, ‘Fantozzi Vs. Dalla’
    From Der Italienische Manierismus, CON-V CNVCD006 (2012)
  12. Kirston Norderval, ‘Glass And Mirrors’
    From Aural Histories, USA DEEP LISTENING DL 45-2012 CD (2012)
  13. Akira Kosemura, (Track 09)
    From It’s On Everything +, AUSTRALIA SOMEONE GOOD RMSG002R CD (2012)
  14. Piano Interrupted, ‘Hedi’
    From Two By Four, UK DAYS OF BEING WILD WILD001 CD (2012)
  15. Uli Rennert, ‘Intersection’
    From Project, PANTAU-X RECORDS PT-X 106 CD (2012)
  16. Funerary Call, ‘Transference from the Void’
    From Fragments from the Aethyr, USA CRUCIAL BLAST CBR100 CD (2012)