Review – physical, absent, tangible (Contour Editions) 2010 – by Sietse van Erve, EARLabs

Physical, Absent, Tangible, i8u, Christopher Delaurenti, Gil Sansón and Brian Mackern & Gabriel Galli –
RATED: 8 / 10

A compilation of tracks with the theme of past spaces, memories and time. 4 acts showcase their own take on this subject. There were sound-art and music meet. It doesn’t happen very often that we receive compilations here at EARLabs. This is easy to explain because in most cases compilations are not really are not really a cohesion of tracks, though on the other hand if done well they can say a lot about the label and the involved musicians. In the last category is the collection of 12 tracks that are brought together on Physical, Absent, Tangible on the label run by Richard Garet: Contour Editions. The four acts involved are i8u, Christopher Delaurenti, Gil Sansón and collaboration between Brian Mackern & Gabriel Galli.

Physical, Absent, Tangible gives a clear idea about what Contour Editions stands for. The musical pieces we find here are in the musical outsiders field of sound-art. The artists all approached the sound world here with an inspiration of gone spaces. Gaps in space and time.

The first piece is Rarefraction by i8u. A minimal piece with low sine drones and high pitched beeps. At least that’s how it starts. Gradually the piece transfers into some sort of big emptiness, while the high pitched sounds re-occur through out the whole piece the main part seems to be more ambient drone based. Soft soundscapes set a scenery of a huge empty space, while the high pitches seem more like a proof of organic happenings. As if something is trying to find its way. While at points the high pitches can sound a bit annoying still overall this is a strong piece. It is one with a lot to discover.
The next artist up is Christopher Delaurenti. His approach is from another angle. He presents two different pieces. The first, Sigil, is one based on distorted and clipping low-end noise and feedback. In the piece there are returning cycles. The soundstructures are suitable for a live setting where a surround system is used to let the music spin through the room. The different pulses could blow the audience away. For cd, though, it is a less interesting piece. It stays a bit on the same side of things.

The second piece by Delaurenti is from another level. This is much more for the home listening session. Nictating works with several layered loops. The background is filled with pulsating noise while more to the foreground clicks are slowly evolving through time. The continuous adding and removing of loops makes this an interesting piece. There is a slow transgression in the music that makes it surrounding throughout the complete room. While some of the loops keep on returning the music never becomes boring.
Next up is Gil Sansón, who delivered 8 pieces by the same name La Montaña S Ha Ido. The source for this pieces are field recordings and archived sounds which Sansón had made in the past but forgot where they came from. With these he tried to recreate situations that could have been the original setting. Throughout these pieces there doesn’t seem to be a line to connect them soundwise. Some of the pieces are more drone based, while others hang in the musique concrete side of music. Due to the way Sansón worked the pieces stay a lot on the sketch side, leaving a feeling that it could have been a bit more.

The last act is the duo Brian Mackern & Gabriel Galli. They present a 14 minutes long piece called 34S56W/Temporal De Santa Rosa. The piece is based on radiomagnetic interferences that were generated dring the De Santa Rosa storm in Urugruay. They made use of radio receivers, circuit-bended apparatus and much more. The piece knows a certain progression from pure radiostatics to a rich layered structure of drones, noise and hiss, but honest enough it also shows the most “musical” sides of all pieces presented here. The duo makes use of certain melodic elements which we do not find in any of the other tracks. Besides that the development shows a lot of exciting things with both gradual and abrupt changes taking place. Due to the used instrumentation the sound is quite lo-fi. But, in this case it really adds to the character of the music. It easily fits in with the tape sounds done by Norwegian duo Bjerga/Iversen. A great composition to finish this compilation with.

Physical, Absent, Tangible is a good compilation which promises more interesting things to come from Contour Editions. Though, it is more than just a sampler, it is a nice collection with a strict theme interpreted from different sides. Recommended to check out.