Water Wheel - 27/7/20


This is my contribution to Audio Obscura's '20x20 Project' where every twenty days a new micro-album of twenty tracks - each of which are twenty seconds long - is released.

Water Wheel consists of fragments from improvisations on a variety of Western fretless zithers. I've been an improviser for years but have always considered that practice more suitable for live performance rather than a recorded album. I also usually improvise with others rather than by myself. These factors - as well as the unique theme and the limitations it imposes - made this project quite an interesting experiment.

Thank you Neil (https://audioobscura.bandcamp.com/) for inviting me to participate, and David (dbarrington.com) for the gorgeous artwork.

Other releases from the project can be found at 20x20project.bandcamp.com

Offkuts - 25/5/20

I spent a month in Seoul with the aims of producing a short ethnographic documentary about Korean shamanism. The project has since been shelved due to a number of reasons and, though the footage may materialise in some fashion eventually, I didn't want the entire trip to have gone to waste.

These recordings were made during a private 'kut' ceremony that was held to help the patron's relationship with her boyfriend. The noisy drumming is designed to attract good spirits while simultaneously frightening away less desirable ones. 'Muga' are sang as entertainment for the spirits but are not considered to have any more spiritual or religious value than other songs; there is no canonical repertoire and the shamans and/or gods are free to sing whatever they'd like.

Flat B - 30/4/20

During the coronavirus lockdown I wasn't able to go out and make recordings or play music with others, so I went back to making noisy ambient sound collages like I did when I first started experimenting with music.

There is one track for every room of my flat, composed entirely of objects found in it - musical or otherwise.

Souvenirs - 22/7/19

After a year of producing my podcast 'Field Trips', I found myself with over four hours of material of varying quality. I can't reasonably expect anyone to listen to all of that, so this album is meant as a "best of" compilation - my favourite recordings from the series.

Whereas previous projects of mine have been more thematically consistent with a pre-planned concept to work from, with this album I instead adopted a more curatorial mindset, the results of which I found quite interesting. There's no overarching theme here, but I do recognise an aesthetic continuity or "style" in the recordings I've selected. It's not something I had previously been consciously aware of, but I seem to gravitate to crowded places with a more explicitly musical element to them, or otherwise I enjoy quieter places by the water. There's also less emphasis on ambiences and more of a focus on scenes, events, happenings, etc. - moments with a bit more of a narrative to follow.

The main benefit to this process is that the recordings haven't been in any way restricted or forced by any concept: Taking my album Dochuki for comparison, while hiking along the Tokaido road I would sometimes not find anything of interest to record but still had to make a recording for the sake of thematic consistency (one track for each post-station on the road), but sometimes I also came across several interesting sounds/capes in the same area but had to pick only one for the same reason. As a result I have mixed thoughts on that album: On the one hand it contains some of my best recordings, on the other hand there are some dull segments. I don't feel the same way about this album - The recordings may be arbitrary, but what I hope is that a higher standard is maintained throughout in regards to both technical quality as well as substance.

Heartbeats - 7/7/19

My parents recently moved house and while going through all of their belongings came across a number of outdated recording media - cassettes, reel to reel tape, minidiscs, even a couple of microcassettes - which they gave to me to see if I found anything interesting. Of the cassettes, most of them were mixtapes and practice tapes for my mother (she's a classical singer), but this one stood out to me. One side is of when my mother was pregnant with my older sister, and the other side was recorded three years later when she was pregnant with me. Maybe these recordings only mean something to me but I thought they were neat.

Field Trips - 30/4/18-17/6/19

Field Trips is a short podcast in which I talk about field recording and listening - why I do it, what I notice, and the often indistinct line between 'sound' and 'music'. The show is both an excuse to go out recording more regularly, as well an attempt to explain my hobby to people who might not otherwise be familiar with it (while also appealing to other like-minded recordists).

All episodes are free to download sans-commentary from mola-recordings.bandcamp.com/album/field-trips where you can also choose to leave a donation to help support the show, if you'd like.

The Hunt for Bells - 21/10/17

The first half of the film presents three scenes, each depicting a perspective on humanity's search for a deeper life meaning: The first scene shows us literally reaching down into the foundation of a Roman Catholic church - an established symbol of both devotion and institution - exposing a hidden connection to the natural world. Following this, a group of people participate in a more modern approach to spirituality by abandoning the church and even the city entirely in an attempt to reestablish that same connection to the Earth. Finally, members of the Red Cross present a third perspective in devoting themselves to more humanist ventures - rather than the natural or the supernatural - in a way that compliments the organisation's religious background.
The performance that follows took place in an abandoned factory that architecturally shares many traits with the Catholic Church seen at the start of the film: It's a wide reverberant space with large pillars spaced evenly throughout. There is an abundance of grey and the walls are decorated with names and images and messages. Even the light from outside shines through in patches just as we saw before. Our almost juvenile crashing and banging juxtaposes with the low fidelity sound of prayer from an electronic rosary to reenforce the artists' shared personal take on worship and spirituality.
The film ends with a conversation between the two artists in which they express their frustration at recording the sound of bells, an everpresent symbol of religious culture that seems ironically elusive. The metaphor should be apparent.

Presented unfinished at SeeM
ôr Film Festival, Anglesey, Wales. More screenings to be announced.