Saturday, November 02, 2013

Artificial Memory Trace - Tidal/Electric Blue/Being Born

Artificial Memory Trace - Tidal
CD. 300 Copies.

Artificial Memory Trace - Electric Blue/Being Born
Tentacles of Perception Recordings. 3” CD

More from Slavek Kwi’s Artificial Memory Trace project in the shape of some untreated sounds that take us from a wind swept Newfoundland to the Irish west coast to a maternity ward where Kwi finds himself one of the few men alive to attend the birth of his two sons with recording equipment to hand.

On these two releases Kwi works with pure sound, barring the 16 seconds of 'Tidal' where Kwi lifts the sounds of dolphins four octaves to bring them within human hearing, what you are hearing is what nature intended and what Kwi himself finds so fascinating. Immersion is key and damn the track listings, as Kwi himself says on the inner sleeve ‘Sounds are organised solely by morphological associations and treated as abstractions. All additional track titles, notes and information are therefore irrelevant’. And so it proves.

Tidal is split into four sections within its 78 minutes with each section being given a detailed running order as to what it is you are actually listening to. You could if you so wished sit with headphones donned and follow each sound as it comes to your ears cross checking it for reference and filing it away in the memory banks whilst releasing a small exclamation saying to yourself ‘so that's what a crumbling iceberg sounds like’.

There are so many different sounds on offer here that a detailed list would prove exhausting for reader and writer alike. Dipping in anywhere reveals something of delight be it the wind howling down the chimney as knots in wood explode in a crackling fire or the burbling of a rock pool or the squeal of gulls. Perhaps its the underwater sounds that intrigue the most, these being the sounds we’re not that readily familiar with. The dolphins sound like Geiger counters, the ‘mysterious creatures in the harbour of Roundstones Connemara’ like electro acoustic compositions, the outboard motor of a boat becomes industrial hum, some things aren’t what they seem and whilst the howling wind and the crackling ice bring recognition with it comes the realisation that Kwi goes to quite some lengths to bring us these rewarding facets of the planet.

On Electric Blue/Being Born Kwi goes where few other [any?] sound recordists have gone before - the maternity ward. Each track is a gradual procession moving from the dramatic palpitations of the babies heart to the bleeps of the monitoring equipment to the inevitable birth, resultant wail and ‘ahhh’ of the beaming father. The calming sniffles of a contented child, the electronic tune of a toy, the wren that greets the child on its first outdoor trip. A journey of course and a homage for Kwi’s two sons that’s far more worthwhile than feet cast in bronze or a Christening blanket.

What both these releases display are the beauty of nature and the joy of life itself. In a world where our hearing is subject to a barrage of constant abuse Kwi provides an escape route capable of returning us to a more natural world.

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