Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre
Text by Samuel Rodgers
The concept for the mobiles project immediately appealed to me in its simplicity, and it seemed an ideal way to invite people with whom I have not collaborated to work together. The task that one is required to carry out is very straightforward – to make a recording of a given duration in response to the recordings that came before – but it seems to me there are any number of ways in which one could approach this, in one’s disposition towards the previous recordings, how one goes about recording, what sound sources one chooses, etc. etc., and that this could lead to extremely divergent results depending on how the process played out. This sense of working toward an unforeseen outcome in which there is no real hierarchy of decision-making was particularly attractive to me.
In choosing who to invite to be part of the project I wanted to avoid selecting a group of artists/musicians that would instantly make sense in terms of their practice, their instruments, playing styles, etc., and rather to select a group with somewhat different approaches to making music. I’ve been familiar with Angharad’s playing for some time now (I think I first heard her album ‘endspace’ on Another Timbre in 2009 or so). Angharad was the only participant with whom I have worked before but only ever as part of larger groups. I got to know about Rie’s installation work around a year ago through video documentation online and I was curious as to how her motors and objects would translate as music. Anne’s work I have known for a little while too, her ‘standing, sitting’ album being a favourite recording of mine.
When inviting people I realized that not everyone would have an adequate means of recording and so offered to record those based in the UK myself. So as it turned out I recorded both Angharad and Rie’s contributions, which obviously meant I was closer to the process at each stage than I would have been. I would be interested to see how this would work differently if I hadn’t had been involved at all until the recordings reached me, in that what arrived would be entirely unfamiliar – I think if I carried out the project again this is something I would do differently, or at least explore the possible different approaches.
Initially I had a slightly different group in mind, but after one artist let me know they couldn’t participate and a number of practical considerations things had to change around a little, and so in the end the order came by chance. I think that inevitably the order would affect the outcome, in that people would have something different to contend with at each point, which would most probably affect their decisions, unless the decision was to ignore what came before. In talking with Rie during the recording session I gathered that often when she performs with other people she tries not to listen to what they are doing, which I think is something that marks her contribution from Anne’s and my own. Rie decided to record a single ‘pile of sound’; comparing Angharad’s recording to the ‘five lakes around Mount Fuji’ … ‘or perhaps the forest’. And indeed Rie’s contribution is somehow both a mountain and a forest – as monadic as it is diffuse.
I feel that Angharad and Rie’s contributions had something in common, in that how their structure was arrived at was almost arbitrary, or consequence of a decision, where I have the sense that Anne’s contribution and my own were more directly responsive to what came before, in the sense of taking cues and listening to the relationship between the recording and the sound we were producing. This simultaneity of modalities of listening is something that I feel is very difficult to achieve in group improvisation, for example, and perhaps it is something that the mobile concept makes available in a different way – something that I feel warrants further exploration, both in itself and in relation to other ideas and approaches.
Samuel Rodgers, April 2014