sounding out scotland – smoo cave 2017

17 11 2017

 

 

This year’s visit of Scotland continues north. Along a tiny beat up single track road across land we join the round tour of Eribol and its majestic scenery. Soon enough arriving in Durness, the sky heavy and textured, i settle into the place sitting on top of the hill by the bunkhouse. My meditation is sprinkled with a few drops while waiting for the right time to set off. By the time I get to Smoo, it is raining heavily and the amount of water that has fallen this season is reflected in the flow of the cascade in the next chamber. I am surprised by the deafening roar of the waterfall coming through into the main part of the cave and concerned it will take most of the sound away. Still, Smoo cave never disappoints and its cathedral like reverberation shines through the sound of crashing water.

There is a very different vibe here than last time i visited. It is certainly more intense and while i am playing one of the long pieces, i can hear the water fall becoming more present and my playing reflects the chaotic flow. There is still that sweet spot when i stand with my feet right in the little brook in the middle of the cave, that inspires gentle sounds, but overall, this session is flowing stronger as i have to compete with the loudness of the water.

 

On the second day, i return at dusk for another recording and there are still a few visitors wandering in and out even though the light is rapidly dropping. I take a few videos that turned out to be mostly a play of shadows (these will come up in a different post). The dampness hanging in the air makes it more difficult for the saxophone, but i still enjoy playing this amazing space. Among the visits, a couple with an infant who seems to be very alert and interested by the music. As evening falls, the cave gets quieter and i play on for a while reminiscing of a day walking miles to a sandy bay and returning in heavy rain. That night was clear though, and camping on the very coast with the tent facing the great big north was quite something.

 

 

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sitting on a hill
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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alternance 1
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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unyielding
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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turning point
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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as many atoms cascading
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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plato’s play of shadows
alto saxophone, 24 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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eddies and rocks
alto saxophone, 25 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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short turnover
alto saxophone, 25 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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as many stars spinning
alto saxophone, 25 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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rain dramatic
alto saxophone, 25 august 2017
smoo cave, scotland

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sounding out scotland – north west coast 2017

19 10 2017

 

 

A visit to Scotland was long due. And this is my favourite area. The trip took us from north west coast sea lines through wild moors and lochs to the very northern point. This post however will focus on a specific section of the western coastline, following the path of the steam train – the jacobites.

The first stop was in Arisaig. A large church towering above the town with a view – tucked between green suburbs and a road out to the sea front.
The very high ceiling and wide open space inside the church made a strong impression and it was like stepping out into space. The slow sound inside was indeed very stilling. A single bell marks a warm welcome and the improvisation flows.
When giving tracks titles, one in particular reminded me of an experience i had nearby meditating on the rocks overlooking the sea. so i chose an image i took that day of a view over to Skye with the sun setting over the calm water.

In the harbour town of Mallaig, i found a shelter from the day for a short exploration of this small church on the edge of town. It was like stepping into the 70’s. Both amusing and welcoming, i felt at home in the cosy carpeted warmth. And nudged into motion by the nearby steam train parked at the station and some building works, i let the saxophone sound out this clear close space.

The next stop was the church at Morar. The place looked cosy, but the vibe of the place was not quite right and the space was not responding. I played for a while but could not get into it, and the sax felt raw. So i did not stay for meditation and instead moved on to a more welcoming location.

For contrast, i returned to Arisaig and bathed in that grand space. After a sweet meditation, i revisited the acoustics. A different day, a different light and still the wonderful immersive stillness was very inspiring.

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first bell
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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forest of peaks
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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silent silver sea
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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open skies
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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a gentle descent
alto saxophone, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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interlude
2.1 hochiku shakuhachi, 22 august 2017
arisaig church

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steamline
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
mallaig church

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white orbs and billows
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
mallaig church

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contrary measures
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
morar church

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counter currents
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
morar church

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slow rise
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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a raft in the other shore
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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mixed feelings
alto saxophone, 23 august 2017
arisaig church

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dovecote tunnel [ged barry and hervé perez]

2 10 2017

following on our exploration of a wet and drippy thor’s cave, we continued down the valley onto another of my favourite spots. i must say playing music in a tunnel is a bit weird, but this place has got the most amazing resonance. with a very strong character and pronounced resonant frequency, this tunnel will bend notes and blend overtones in the most surprising way.

expect beatings, saturating space and long tones…

 

this recording is the document of their very first encounter as a duo with the special acoustics of the tunnel.
01 august 2017

ged barry – tenor saxophone
hervé perez – alto saxophone

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full audio





thor’s cave [ged barry and hervé perez]

16 09 2017

flashes of lightning

amongst the crashes and flashes of a raging storm, and in torrential rain, the duo was born as ged barry and hervé perez arrived at thor’s cave with saxes.
this recording is the document of their very first encounter as a duo with the special acoustics of the cave.
01 august 2017

ged barry – tenor saxophone
hervé perez – alto saxophone

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full audio





sounding out north yorkshire moors

30 06 2017

 

The first stop for this trip was Lastingham. A beautiful village with a splendid church, opening onto the North Yorkshire moors.

The exploration of this church started with the usual meditation: A timely break from the summer heat, enjoying the fresh and quiet space. The meditation was both gentle and strong. Constructive.

From the first notes, the space reveals its understated richness. the dome and arches gently roll the sound into a perfect resonating sustain. never overwhelming, always enriching each phrase, inspiring pastoral calm and devotional entrain with a certain degree of adventurous reverence. ’tis just poetry for the jazzer’s ears.

Lost in sound and in rapture of the moment, i spend over an hour improvising along the accidental local birds, the punctuation of quarterly bells and the whispers of stones who have lived long.

 

After some time along the coast, drawing inspiration from the tides and the sea breeze, the journey continues onto another location i had visited a long time ago. Here also, it is this first time i connect to this place with the alto saxophone, and the latest addition to my panoply of instruments, some home made shakuhachi.

Lady Chapel is in a wonderful remote location overlooking the valley. Tucked in the trees and greenery, it is an intensely quiet place. Always open and welcoming, the remoteness of the place, it’s short reverb time, seem to inspire more intense playing. Something like the spirit of gospel, in the tradition of John Coltrane’s stream, a breathless flow of spirited harmony.

What i mean is that with no less reverence to the place, here i feel i can experiment more and move away from a traditional harmonic approach. A perfect opportunity to try out structural playing. Merging symmetrical harmonic shapes which flow into a self-generating narrative, always moving, always morphing.

For the last few minutes, i enjoy another moment of suspended quiet. An opportunity to try out some shakuhachi i made, gradually tweaking and tuning the bamboo until i find the right balance. I seem to be close now, although the instruments respond differently outdoors than at home.

Here, the 2.85 feels a little rough, and some of the notes catch a little. However, both the latter and the smaller 2.1 are sounding pretty good. And some phrases, listening back to the recordings, sound like the real thing. On one track, i even venture some multiphonics and high overtones – which are quite difficult to hold on the shakuhachi. Little by little, and every time i record something, i feel i made a little progress. It is difficult to put the saxophone down at times, but with more practice and more dedication on carrying the shaks, i probably could come up with some interesting exploration of natural acoustics in the near future.

In the meantime, you will find below tracks recorded in the two places described above. I hope you enjoy listening to those documents, as much as i enjoyed listening to the stories of the places i visit.

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topography of moor lands
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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dome and arches
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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summer sun on the moors
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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refuge in the coolness of the crypt
alto saxophone, 17 june 2017
lastingham church

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stellar scalene
alto saxophone, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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acute pastoralis
alto saxophone, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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coastal path
2.85 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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coming tide
2.85 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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returning
2.1 shakuhachi, 19 june 2017
lastingham church

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impact – new release by pan y rosas discos

10 06 2017

impact cover art

 

impact

is a concept album based around a simple approach: work around peripheral sounds and extended techniques, extract the most unusual and unheard from my instrument using close miking techniques.

 

after many years of dedicating all my attention to the saxophone, i decided to revisit some of the techniques i used when playing prepared electric guitar, this time using the strict limitation of dry acoustic guitar. the architecture of the instrument is altered using props strategically placed along the strings. the instrument sounds radically different, and placing it flat on the ground makes the physical relationship completely new.

turned percussive, harmonic contents augmented, resonance shifted, the guitar sound is barely recognisable. the conventional effects and textures are abstracted and this allows for a new range of soundscapes and dynamics. the mike positioning deliberately picks up every sound, every detail in a raw and intimate way that makes this recording unforgiving and intensely present.

 

in a similar way, the soprano saxophone is explored from the inside and exploded with precise positioning of mikes in order to concentrate on fragments of sounds usually unheard. for the whole of this recording, not a single note is played, nor the instrument approached in a traditional way. instead, i focus on the tiny percussive sound of keys and bursts of air around the body of the saxophone. the harmonic contents is purely structural, and modulates in microvariations according to the air flow.

another type of sound here is drawing harmonics hidden in the white noise of full blow air through the saxophone tube. the sax is mostly played without mouthpiece.

in both instances, the close miking technique takes you inside the instrument, and the spatial arrangement expands the physicality of the instruments beyond our experience of their sound, into the acousmatic listening. i strongly recommend using headphones for the full spectral and spatial experience.

 

the composition is full of details and sonic events carefully placed, so that the listening experience is fully immersive, very physical and quite intense at times.

as expressed above, this piece is raw and unforgiving. i made a deliberate aesthetic choice to present known instruments in a very challenging way, highlighting sounds which are mostly never heard. to this, i added some field recordings that augment the already rich palette of textures and gestures. the very tactile and sensual quality of field recordings add another dimension of sonic experience. and yet, here again, our sense of comfort is thwarted by altering recognisable natural sounds through the use of digital processing, positioning and perspective.

 

while in the process of making this album, i came across a documentary film about the horrors of war in the current form of colonialism. this raw and deeply upsetting revelation somehow connected to the close affect and impact i was looking for in the sounds i was creating. so i decided to add some of the devastating accounts and interviews from the film in the form of samples.

 

this work was made in 2011. for years i focused on being creative and producing a large amount of compositions and recordings. i am now in the process of making public some of these. so i am very pleased that the net label pan y rosas has kindly agreed to publish this one.

you can hear and download the full album from pan y rosas:

http://www.panyrosasdiscos.net/pyr217-herve-perez-impact/

 

 

 

 

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She Flows Like Water… new release

10 05 2017

i’m very happy to announce the release of an album of early electronic compositions by picpack label. these are tracks that range from abstract glitch to slow moody grooves all the way to electroacoustic composition. most of the tracks feature field recordings and found sounds which were digitally manipulated and sculpted to produce a variety of textures. this selection gives quite a good feel of the type of work produced over a period of time when i was experimenting with processing techniques. often, a piece of music would be composed of one single sample recording processed in various ways to extract different aspects of the sound; harmonic, textural, rhythmical etc.

i hope you enjoy listening, as much as i enjoyed working on these. the album page can be found here. and you can hear the music on archive.org as well as from the player embedded below.

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