Sounding Out – back to the beginning

29 07 2020

There is something intimate about the forest. This is where Sounding Out started out. And in the current situation, accessing churches or any type of public architecture is difficult. Playing outdoors has an immediate quality. The sound of the saxophone is pure. Just dry, dead pan, as it is, no embelishment, no phase tweaking and bounce reflections. In the cool air, it is also slightly raw. Raunchy is the mood.

I’ve just had a series of powerful meditations lately, and i’ve been reflecting on a phenomena with light hitting a waterfall (see my video on reflections on a weir called moving lines). Such reflections took me back to symmetrical figures and the fractal approach to music i have been developing. After meditation, i walked out into the forest with my saxophone and continued my reflections, this time it is the instrument that leads me into similar figures i had seen. Inspired by this experience, i later returned to the same spot and recorded some improvisations.

From the open space immediate sound, i gradually step deeper into the trees and the sounds change. It comes as no surprise our ancestors believed that trees had spirits. As i play in the midst of this thick woods, the trees come alive and respond to the saxophone sounds. There’s calls in the night, shrieks and hullulations, and there’s some jazz licks too, abstract and angular, that all come out into the deep, the dark, impenetrable lush texture of trees.

 

On the return journey, after walking in Northumberland through splendid scenery and lush forests, i stopped in the well known church in Newby. This place never disappoints. The doors are always open, and the acoustics always gives. I have spent much time here, and always had such inspiration in this very quiet space.

Here again, carried by the flow, i play uninterrrupted for 45 minutes.

 

 

 

vajra light
alto saxophone, 24 july 2020
holystone forest

 

 

 

conseil des sages
alto saxophone, 26 july 2020
newby church

 

 

 

un sage conseil
alto saxophone, 26 july 2020
newby church





Dawn Chorus in Cressbrook Dale [nt015]

7 07 2020
Recorded in the Peak District, in a lush dale near Cressbrook.
From the very quiet beginning, as it is still dark, you can hear a few isolated birds, ducks in the water. Gradually first calls appear, there is movement in the trees and flying overhead. birdsongs multiply and build up to the full dawn chorus.
This location has a wide variety of birds and offers many delightful sounds, with rich details. There are plenty of surprises, sonic events unique to this place and moment in time.

You can hear families of ducks in the water with little ones following and exploring, a couple swans, there’s wings flapping, and much more during this recording of over one hour.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2020

nt015

released July 3, 2020

 

hervé perez (field recordings) [recorded on a zoom H5 with Sennheiser MKH 416 stereo pair]

 

 

 





Blackton Water nt014

9 06 2020

Recorded in Northumberland, in the nature reserve situated around Blackton and Balderhead reservoirs. Many birds are featured from rich textures to singular events and bird calls, including curlews that circle over the water, oyster catchers, lapwing etc.

Wide views over the reservoir benefit from the atmosphere and the resonance of the cup shaped landscape, with birds flying overhead and water lapping at the edge of the reservoirs.

Over Balderhead, the soundscape is more mixed with several distinctive bird calls that makes the rich textural atmosphere of this unique environment.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2019

nt014

released June 5, 2020

credits

hervé perez (field recordings) [recorded on a zoom H5 with Sennheiser MKH 416 stereo pair]





Postcards from the North Yorkshire Dales nt013

7 06 2020
Recorded in the North Yorshire dales, this album features birdsongs on the English countryside in the late afternoon, evening, and at the dawn chorus.

The first tracks provide a wide sonic view of the dales with its many birds; creating a rich texture of songs.

Then we move to quieter moments at night including wings inside the resonance of thick woods, nightingales, and close up details of single birds.

In the morning, the dawn chorus is once again rich in texture and shows many species of birds together.

There is water running at the bottom of the valley, providing a backdrop to the soundscapes.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2019

nt013

released June 5, 2020
credits

hervé perez (field recordings) [recorded on a zoom H5 with Sennheiser MKH 416 stereo pair]





Postcards from Manchester [nt012]

7 06 2020

The residency in Manchester was much shorter and we had little time to explore the soundscape that was new to all of us. This also proved rather different to the previous work we did in Walney and Lancaster. The place has a violent clash between classes and the poverty is overwhelming. The sounds I collected were certainly heavier and overall had a darker feel.

So we pointed our cameras and microphones to the hidden side, the undergrowth, and the periphery where life breathes a little amongst the buzz of busy bees.
Some of the areas we explored around the centre were the Cathedral, Piccadilly, but also ventured further to Bridgewater and Castlefield.

One thing that is sure is that you never get away from the drone of the city; from fans to traffic, and the omnipresent trams and trains.

These recordings therefore represent the soundscapes and qualities of places, with their natural resonance, as well as a present ambience brought by constant activities of this busy city.

Thanks to Full of Noises, MJF, LJF, ACE for making the work possible.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2019nt012

released June 3, 2020

 

credits

 

hervé perez (field recordings) [recorded on a zoom H4n with Sennheiser MKH 416 stereo pair]





Postcards from Lancaster nt011

6 06 2020

Continuing the work on ‘Northern’ with cellist Maja Bugge and video artist Adam York-Gregory, we spent a week in Lancaster recording the sounds and images that represent their hometown, as described by local people and the children Maja interviewed.

During this time, we documented the place with sounds and video for performances at Manchester Jazz festival and Lancaster Jazz festival. Those performances were improvised with material we collected during residencies in those places and we interpreted our sense of place from a menu of field recordings and video clips.

Presented here is a selection of the recordings I used to produce samples for performance. These recordings were collected at different key locations, which included the Lune river, Lancaster canal, Williamson park and Ashton memorial. We had exclusive access to the Lancaster brewery and Atkinsons coffee where we recorded amazing sounds from the machinery with rare insights into the production process.

Thanks to Full of Noises, MJF, LJF, ACE for making the work possible.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2018

 

 





Postcards from Walney nt010

6 06 2020

For a residency organised by octopus collective, I spent a few days on Walney island with cellist Maja Bugge and video artist Adam York-Gregory. During this time, we documented the place with sounds and video for the performance of ‘Northern’ that took place at Full of Noises festival 2018, and later at Manchester Jazz festival and Lancaster Jazz festival. Those performances were improvised with material we collected during residencies in those places and we interpreted our sense of place from a menu of field recordings and video clips.

Presented here is a selection of the recordings I used to produce samples for performance. These recordings were collected over three days at different key locations of the nature reserve and illustrate certain natural habitats and their sonic quality.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2018

 

 





Postcards from Matera nt009

6 06 2020

This is a document of the rich sonic identity of a place in the south of Italy. Recorded on a minidisk and with binaural microphones the album is a journey through the amazing sonic architecture of an ancient cave dwelling settlement carved into the sandstone of a canyon.

The starting point, in the very centre of the city, gives a sense of the busy bustling square, with a dramatic surround sound immersion into this incredible place that is loud and very much alive. The journey continues down into the old town, and the soundscape immediately changes. And as we wind down windy narrow passages, the resonance and acoustic shifts.

The attraction of the use of binaural microphones, when listening back through headphones, you become immersed into the scene, you become the protagonist; and this is an active journey, moving through the sonic landscape, letting the sounds swirl around your head and listening to the architecture communicate its presence and identity.

The old town of the Sassi is made of rock houses carved in natural caves. This place has a palpable vibe and a unique sound. Moving through the narrow streets and passageways shows how much the architecture filters and shapes the sounds we hear.

Churches are omnipresent and bells echo each other from across the valley. There are bursts of voices, dogs appear, old mopeds jump out, and birds flying overhead. Turn a corner and everything changes. The wind rushes around your ears as it sweeps down crags, porches and passageways. Swifts. It is summer. Time has stopped. You are there. So very present at every moment. This place has power.

The recording, made with a portable minidisk and in-ear binaural mikes is imperfect, but it is a valuable document of an incredible acoustic space in a period of change and transformation. There is a raw quality of nature in constant interaction with present signs of civilisation.
I have left the imperfections of this document to maintain the real feel, the immediacy of wind noises, voices, handling and movements which are all integral part of this active exploration of place and acoustics.

I am very pleased to share this document, and blessed to have had the chance to spend time in this place. Thanks to Harry and Antonia for the invitation and rare opportunity.

Recorded on location, and mastered by hervé perez at nexTTime studios
©Hervé Perez 2004

 

 





de quatre mers de quatre vents nt008

29 04 2020

i am very pleased to present my first large scale compostion as number eight in the nexTTime production series.

 

There was an old piano in a corner of the studio, and one day I just had this drive to dig it open, and start putting things in the strings. I was into Cage, obviously, but never saw any of his instructions, or knew how to go about it. I don’t really play piano, but I have years of experience as an improviser on prepared guitar, and so I had an army or crocodile clips at hand and a few other tricks. At first, I wanted to create a database of samples to place into compositions or performing live. This project turned out to be rather different.

I spent a day in the studio working at the piano and preparing all the strings, playing by ear, and aiming for a whole range of sounds, textures, percussive tones.
The second day, I started recording individual notes for sampling, but very quickly I found myself improvising on this new instrument I had created. I came up with motifs, runs, hits and whole sections that were just playing and enjoying the sounds, coming up with rhythmical patterns and so on.
By the end of the day, I had plenty of material to take home.

The next stage was spent doing was I do best, editing, processing, sculpting, and creating yet another database of new samples where the piano had turned electro. Here again, I created textures, harmonic samples, rhythmical patterns and individual hits. And so, the track called ‘empty piano’ came first.

But I did not stop there; while playing with the recordings, I started arranging sections of piano, and just with skeletons of tracks, I knew I had something quite special. For me it was a unique opportunity to use what was an unusual instrumentation and a change from electric guitar and electroacoustic pieces.

Working on the set of short films as sound recordist, I met Carrie who is a trained classical singer as well as actress. I managed to record a few short samples off set, but later approached her asking if she would record in a studio for me. And so I prepared sets of instructions for her so I could harvest more samples, short motifs and single notes in a range of styles to later rework in computer, and integrate all this into the compositions I had.

And this is pretty much the making of this work. Add to this some field recordings, and electronics, programmed beats and sines…
It is an unusual approach to the format of the symphony; in four movements and with four classes of instruments.

Looking back, I still rather like the sweetness of this piece, and it still feels fresh. Somehow, the themes that play out through the movements of nature versus urbanisation, also illustrated in the contrasting sounds that make the line up, are still relevant to me.

 

A symphony for prepared piano, voice, field recordings and electronics, in four movements.

 

the concept:

The prepared piano symphony follows the traditional arch narrative of the form. In parallel of the evolution of music, the sounds follow a historical trajectory of technology in relation to mankind and nature.

 

In the first movement, the four classes of instruments – prepared piano, voice, field recordings, electronics – set the scene. The piano echoes the state of technology and design of the time. It is metaphorically the birth of the industrial revolution and the machine.

 

In the second movement, there is a shift in sound quality and atmosphere as modernism hits a stride, and the technology becomes altered in need of the new, of progress. The instrument / technology is ‘prepared’ in ways that reflect more modern soundscapes with the appearance of pulses and drones in contrast to the more mechanical and dramatic opening section. The second movement is already bridging the modern sound of the ‘prepared piano’ into the digital age, a further alteration of the industrial age and its resulting soundscapes:

As we follow the evolution in struggle between man, machine and nature, into a post materialist rebirth, past the explosion of the atom and the advance in granular synthesis, into a quantum world of digital jungle, we also follow a different narrative of how the piano (here representative of a certain technological advancement) is gradually prepared and transformed further still as we delve deeper into its resonance and sonic architecture at the digital atomic level.

 

 

There is a parallel between the history of the industrial landscape and the evolution of musical instruments and their uses to reflect social changes. We delve deeper into the texture and atomic resonance of matter, of the physical world, of the musical object in ways that deconstructs its original technological advancement.

 

By the third movement, it is the age of doubt and there is a looming, brooding turmoil in the balance of the world and it reaches a climax with uncertainty and existentialism. It is the end of history, the loss of meaning, and even of the purpose of materialism and the quantum field of emptiness where grains of reality and pulverised to conditioned compounded vibrations.

 

This is only resolved in the fourth movement when after a dramatic discharge of energy in the form of a lightening storm when life is stilled into suspension, electronic entities, prepared piano, voice and nature all navigate around a more coherent system of interactions which has its own rhythms, cycles and its own logic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





the hanged swordsman nt007

25 04 2020

Let’s go back in time to have a look at early electronic compositions as release number seven in the series of nexTTime production.

 

This album marks a significant turning point in my work in sound design, digital processing, composition and approach to sound in general. I was still working on a pc at the time and focused all my efforts in sculpting sounds, often using a single source or limited amount of material to create an entire piece.

For example, the opening track is made from a single short sample from Kenneth Kirschner, inspired by a competition organised by Deupree’s 12K label following the release of seminal work post piano. Unessentialists and minimalism has been an important inspiration and yet, I am very much interested in texture, harmony and spectral composition, and in this case, getting deep into the textural and timbral quality of the sounds I used.

Often unrecognisable, the sound sources are still very present, and inform the nature of the compositions. The last piece is another example, with limited source samples recorded in a derelict mill in the peak district. I spent a lot of time in the area taking photos. Soon after, the mill was restored and now has been transformed into luxury accommodations. And yet I cannot help thinking about the many children who died there, working in awful conditions. I think this place has always kept a very weird vibe.

The track diamond is made from guitar samples and the title describes the process the original sounds went through to emerge as they are now.
Cell Breakdown was the soundtrack used for a video installation, diffused in a reverberant gallery space when I was studying at art school.

I am pleased to share this work now, and hope you enjoy its documentary value and its significnce in relation to influential electronic music.