Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sofia Records

12 14 16 18 20 22 = 2
Various Artists.
Sofia Records. Cassette. 100 Copies.

Jorge Boehringer & Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh - Swiss Barns + Queef! - Live at the Monk and Nun.
Sofia Records 005. Cassette. 100 Copies.

I was at the bike racing in Scarborough last weekend. No, I do not have any great interest in bike racing but me and Mrs Fisher were given a pair of gratis paddock tickets and it was a nice morning so off we went. Judging by the accents in the paddock it would appear that half of Ireland was there with us too. I never knew the Irish were so keen. And where the Irish go the Guinness is never far behind. Story has it that the Irish were so fed up with having nowhere to go for a pint of Guinness on the Oliver’s Mount circuit that they decided to build their own bar. So one year two van loads of building material and men turned up and they went and built one. Friendly people too the motorbike crowd. Just not much racing going on. In what must have been a jinx on my part there was a serious accident on our arrival whereupon a rider went through the fence and in to the crowd. After another hour or so after the visit of two Yorkshire Air Ambulances and a brief resumption of racing,  the same thing happened again, in exactly the same spot. Meeting abandoned. I’ll be back next year though.

I seem to be at one with the Irish of late. And why not, as Barry Norman would say. After doffing my cap to Dublin’s Venusian Death Cell last time around its now the turn of Sofia Records. I’m not sure which bit of Ireland Sofia Records resides in but I know its run by Natalia Beylis who releases short run cassettes containing sounds created ‘by the people around me’. She also makes all the covers and puts bits of dirt and dead leaves in them. At least she did on the latter of the above two releases but more of that later.

Natalia has of lots of friends in distant parts of the globe; New Zealand, Japan, Germany, England and Austria to name a few of them. This explains ‘12 14 16 18 20 22 = 2’ the culmination of the collation of 24 separate field recordings. The following is taken from the Sofia Records Bandcamp page and explains things far more clearly than I ever could and shows Baylis’s apparent liking for numerical symmetry:

I am asking people to record 2 minutes of whatever sounds are happening around them on 14th December 2016 at 18:20 (6:20 pm) their local time. The idea is to capture the sounds happening around you at that exact time rather than create specific sounds during that time.

Why this date? (Because numbers make nice patterns)

In the US the date is written MONTH DAY YEAR so this date was 12/14/16.
In military time 6 pm is 18:00 and 20 past 6 in the evening is 18:20.
A two minute recording starting at 20 minutes past the house will end at 22 minutes past the house so; 12/14/16/18/20/22 = 2

24 people did recordings for this in total. 12 on Side A (24 minutes of sounds). 12 on Side B (24 minutes of sound). Equaling a total of 48 minutes of ... 

Twenty four individual examples of Musique Concréte then? Depending on your bendy definition of the term. I prefer found sounds. Sounds as you find them. Which here means someone preparing a meal in Finland with the radio/tv on in the background, someone in TNB mode in their back shed/garage [lots of keys and squeaky doors], kids on buses speaking foreign tongues, traffic, footsteps, birdsong, onboard train announcements in Flemish, a drum and guitar improv band tuning up, the BBC news, a Japanese amusement arcade [maybe] and in one of the more ear popping segments someone playing with their dog its toenails clattering on the hard floor surface its half growls making for a distinctly Schimpfluch-ian like recording. I soon lost track of who’s who on here [Tom Smith, Andie Brown, Elkka Nyoukis, The Doll …] but that hardly matters as this is best listened to as a whole anyway, thus reminding you that everyday sounds are never boring. A concept release then but for once a concept release that works in spades.

Its the Jorge Boehringer/Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh/Queef! release thats filled with bits of dirt, leaves and other crumbs of detritus and the reason why I’m leaving it intact and listening to the download. Sacrilege I know but I have my best keks on and I’m not getting the Hoover out again this week.

Both tracks are recorded live at the Monk & The Nun Festival August 2016 in Leitrim. The Boehringer/Oireachtaigh being a weaving twin violin/fiddle fest that begins in sparse and sombre Arvo Pärt territory before going all improv and beautiful on us. Not so much dueling banjoes as rutting stags. Its a quiet affair for the most part with each player responding to the other as they weave their way through a near perfect 20 minute piece. Running to silence in places the pair lean in to each with great tenderness before climaxing with a full on rasping riff apiece. Not unlike a Tony Conrad scrape only much shorter and far more edifying.

Queef! Meanwhile begin their side with a traditional far eastern melody as knocked out on a Xylophone or some such before going all electroacoustic with rubbed finger cymbals, wind up toys, bubbling liquids, old car horns, the ticking of a clock and much rumbling of a distinct and murky nature. With just the merest hint of music box melodies creeping in to the background this lifts it from its Adam Bohman-esque frottings to something that feels and sounds far more endearing. If such sounds can ever reach such heights. Only the fart of a crackle box shatters the peace.

The detritus is to remind us of the venue. Maybe. I have the urge for a Guinness.

Sofia Records

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