Sounding Out – the Peak District

27 08 2020

The Peak District on my doorstep, it is easy to nip out and see so much beauty. A little further afield, the limestone valleys offer a different type of landscape. i don’t often go that far and so missed the area and decided to return to known places, in the south peaks.

It was wet in wetton. Storm was on the menu, and it did not disappoint. But first, in the day, it was really hot and sunny. Walking up the hills was fairly taxing and many people were out swimming in the rivers.

By the evening, the distant lightning provided a spectacular display; with stars above, flashes lit up gorgeous cloud formations. The flashes were relentless, it was like watching fireworks and the storm being so distant, it was completely silent. Quite a surreal scene. And it took a while for the rain to arrive. And here too, it did not disappoint.

Another magic moment, in the morning, from a nearby bridge, i watched the empty and dry river bed fill up with rain water that slowly had filtered throught the limestone and started flowing, making this most amazing trickle sound, like pebbles coming to life.

But let’s rewind a little to the end of the day, after a wonderful walk in blazing sunshire, and as the weather was slowly turning, i climbed into the imposive stature of Thor’s Cave. Possibly due to the radiant weather, and also to a long period of lockdown, i found the area more busy than usual, and it was a while until there was a quiet moment. i had time to enjoy the golden glowing of slanting light that came into the cave from the side opening. Taking the time to get back in touch with the space i once knew well (a scroll through previous sounding out recordings will show many visits to this site), i could get into the vibe and ready for some improvisation.

As soon as i got the saxophone out and sounded out a few notes into the space, to warm up, the music started to flow. At the end of the session, as the light was diminishing, a single wood pigeon was singing outside the entrance of the cave. I picked up the melody and recorded one last piece.

 

 

the fifth step
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

shadow theatre
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

spin the riff
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

the wood pigeon song
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

 

After a little break, i continued on down the valley, to a tunnel of incredible property. The sound there is just outstanding. After playing in the cave, my lips were starting to tire, but i could not help sending a few notes spinning down that long tube a watch the frequencies merge. Each set of notes shimmers in its own way, creating further overtones, bending notes to align with the tunnel resonance. I could have played triads forever, just listening to the long tail slowly fade. With circular breathing, the tones eventually blend into a mass of sound that slowly modulates overtones. This place has always been a treat.

 

infinite
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
swainsley tunnel

 

 

merger
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
swainsley tunnel

 

 

scats o’long tails
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
swainsley tunnel

 

 

dark skies ahead
alto saxophone, 11 august 2020
swainsley tunnel

 

 

 

On the second day, i wanted to go back to the cave and record some more, explore different textures. I am not sure if the deliberate approach was wise, in any case, i could not really force any ideas as is usually true with this project. I just had to go with the flow. And on that second day, the vibe was quite different. There were many distractions and it took quite a while for things to settle down, and even while playing, there were a few interruptions. Still, even though i found it more difficult to get into the zone, some interesting material came out. And indeed, the results were more high energy flow and abstract than the first session which was predominently melodic. In places like this, i find the vibe and the music that comes out a lot more free and raw than in churches, for obvious reasons.

 

 

another round
alto saxophone, 12 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

bustle in the valley
alto saxophone, 12 august 2020
thor’s cave

 

 

waltzing wood in the wind
alto saxophone, 12 august 2020
thor’s cave

 





PLGD released by Pan Y Rosas Discos

25 08 2020

i’ve been sitting on a bunch of tracks for a while that explored live processing. i was trying things out at the time i was working on the album ‘imploding stars’ and in that period, i was recording improvisations that used various sound sources and strings of plugins. lately, i revisited some of those pieces and did new edits and master. the album PLGD was released by Pand Y Rosas recently and already got some nice reviews.

here are a few words by s. victor aaron from something else:

Hervé Perez is both an audio artist and a visual artist but the sound art he makes tend to get deeply seared into your consciousness as provocative visual art would. PLGD is the last set of sonorities he’s created using is sax, his voice, electronic effects and Tibetan meditation bowls. The art is how all this disparate sources for sound converge to create an alien but liquid whole.

 

If you’re looking for harmony, melody or rhythm, this isn’t the place to look. Perez is going for something much more primal than that in the creation of these sound sculptures. Similar to the mission of conventional music though, it uses vibration to give your brain something striking and unfamiliar to process and ponder.

 

Processed field recordings seems to form the basis for PLGD’s opening salvo “Styfg,” where the sounds of nature are completely blended with otherworldly buzz. We hear Perez’s soprano saxophone for the first time on “Likabrd Inacag” but here it becomes the basis of an overall sonic painting made up of heavy processed sounds of that sax. “Winds of Many Harms” is the sound of flowing air, whether that’s through a heavily altered sax or by other means.

 

Those meditation bowls hums and chimes on “Lance L’eau Du Lac” are ancient timbres that never sound stale, and if you never heard these resonant instruments from the Himalayas, you’re in for a treat.

 

Perez take his sax to new, exotic places on “Winds and Humming Buds,” at times making his horn resemble a flute. For “Par Anneaux,” he dubs over his sax several times to make it resemble a flock of geese that over time gets enmeshed into a larger tapestry of dreary sonorities. The sax becomes a percussion instrument during much of “Il Faudrait Qu’on Cesse,” spraying into the void a barrage of false notes.

 

“Bird in a Bush” uses silence as another instrument, occasionally interrupted by rustling, the bowls, percussive knocks and a barely-perceptible low hum. “Styfg Coda” roughly approximates the distorted sound of storm waves crashing onshore and “Soprano Fields” transits from near-silence to ghoulish to placid.

 

Hervé Perez makes musique concrète using atypical sources while audaciously pushing his soprano saxophone into uncharted territory. That’s why PLGD is made for ears thirsty for entirely new sounds, even for those ears who think they’ve heard it all.

 

the album is available from Pand Y Rosas Discos.





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