Factory Direct

On Factory Photographs (ROOM 40 EDRM426), two Australian sound artists calling themselves Hexa attempt to represent images of factories in sound. And goodness me, what a literal job they’ve made of it; these would-be abstract sounds quickly resolve themselves into sound-images of crashing metal, machine presses, steam, sparks, foundries, whistles, hooters, and many other prosaic interpretations of what a factory makes or does. The images in question were created by everyone’s favourite limner of the bleak industrial landscape, David Lynch, who has been doing it in cinema since the late 1970s (and in my view rarely surpassed his take on gloomy factories since Eraserhead). As a sideline to his cinematic work, Lynch has been taking photographs of disused and abandoned factories for many years, a fact which somehow fails to surprise me. I’d also point out that disused and abandoned factories have been preoccupying many other visual artists for some time, and we’ve reviewed a few of the results in these pages. The idea to create this banal sound-fest was down to Jose Da Silva, who commissioned the work while there was a Lynch exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art in 2015. Hexa are Lawrence English and his friend Jamie Stewart, who have been collaborating since 2009; they are planning an audio-visual version of this album using Lynch’s images. This probably isn’t as objectionable as I am making it seem, but if you compare it with the eerie and subtle sound effects that Alan Splet and Lynch created for their films, it feels rather overstated and superfluous. Lynch was profoundly and personally affected by the urban squalor he beheld in Pennsylvania and continues to explore it, for reasons that are probably mysterious even to him. I’m just not feeling the same depth or obsessive qualities from this Hexa record. From 27th October 2016.