Empty Space

Montreal composer James O’Callaghan has a collection called Espaces Tautologiques (empreintes DIGITALes IMED 16140), a release which is dominated by three parts of his electro-acoustic trilogy realised between 2013-2015. On ‘Objects-Interiors’ he does it with the inside of a piano; on ‘Bodies-Soundings’, an acoustic guitar and a toy piano; and on ‘Empties-Impetus’, the acoustic instruments of a string quartet. In each case there’s some attempt made to investigate acoustic spaces in some way, mainly by feeding back sounds and recordings of sounds into the resonating body in question. What ends up on the disc is a series of anonymous, samey-sounding creaks and groans. I found it a plodding listen, and extremely self-reflexive; music that simply describes itself, and describes the processes that brought it into being, as if the composer is merely building an echo chamber for a series of banal, self-regarding truisms, to be repeated ad infinitum. Virtually no effort has been made to sublimate this boring process music. From October 2016.