British sound sculptor Jonathan Coleclough (1963), originally a member of
(with Andrew Chalk, Darren "Monos" Tate, Colin Potter),
operates at the border
between droning ambient music (or, better, "deep listening") and abstract
as documented by
Sumac (Siren, 1997 - ICR, 1999), a collaboration with Andrew Chalk,
and especially by
the impressive Cake (Siren, 1998), reissued and remixed as Cake (version 2) (Siren, 2002).
This 35-minute piece begins with harsh electronic dissonance that don't
sound harsh at all because they have been incorporated in a continuous flow
and the whole has been somehow smoothed out. Soon a distant rumble takes over
and that becomes the narrative for the rest of the piece: a slow mutation
of this deep rumble into a didjediroo-like vibration and eventually into
silence while, at the same time, sounds of nature come to the surface.
Then the drone that has disappeared is resurrected but the mutation has
continued and the sound is now a sharp metallic hissing. The mutation
now resumes with more movement towards galactic variations reminiscent of cosmic music of the 1970s.
Minya (1999), a collaboration with Colin Potter and Andrew Chalk,
Windlass (Staalplaat, 1999) came Period (Anomalous, 2001), one of the most soothing and monolithic compositions in the repertory of droning music.
The 50-minute Period toys with piano notes that are played several
seconds from each other, enough time to indulge in the echo that each leaves behind and that is further wrapped with a background radiation of sorts.
The background drone becomes thick and loud enough that the balance of power shifts
in its favor. Then we realize that the mutating drone is the real protagonist
of the piece, and the piano notes (whatever they are trying to play) only
constitute the background. Just when the drone has become dominant (in a rather
ugly timbre) the situation changes again: the drone decays to a distant
buzz while the piano continues its cryptic sonata.
The 18-minute Periodic disposes of the piano and attains a much higher
degree of tension and pathos: the massive drone, reminiscent of Gordon
Mumma's apocalyptic installations, is free to metabolize and bloom, radiating
ghostly sub-drones in all directions. The revolving nebula of evil sounds
paints a bleak soundscape akin to the apocalyptic and visionary soundpainting of
German cosmic music of the 1970s.
The 29-minute Periodicity has more of these flying cosmic objects but
set against an industrial-grade pulsation. The collision between the two
elements turns out to be catastrophic: everything implodes into an empty
landscape of sparse bangs, subdued hisses and alien clangors. The hissing
turns into a bubbling magma while the noises continue to pop up and fade out
more or less randomly. The pulsation changes character one more time, it becomes
faster and simpler; the intergalacting hisses return; the metallic clangor
continues. And towards the end the composer/mixer throws in a chaotic dialogue
among atonal guitars. This is highly scenic chamber music for improvised musique concrete and drones.
Finally, the 21-minute Summand indulges in the horrible dance of a
loud wall-shaking rumble.
Jonathan Coleclough demonstrates great skills in architecting and choreographing
the sounds that he produces. There is a narrative at work, there is a strategy
that makes a point, there is method to his madness.
Low Ground (ICR, 2002), a collaboration with Colin Potter and saxophonist Tim Hill,
Beech For John and Miho (Sea Pool, 2003), a collaboration with saxophonist Tim Hill,
and the untitled collaboration with Potter and Steven "Bass Communion" Wilson (ICR, 2004)
are subtle electroacoustic works that redefine chamber music for the ambient age.
Casino (Idea, 2003), instead, simply collects two field recording (a casino and frogs).
Makruna (ICR, 2004) is a series of manipulations of
piano notes, mixed with metallic noise and field recordings.
Long Heat (ICR, 2005) is a collaboration with
Japanese improviser Kuwayama "Lethe" Kiyoharu.
Husk (ICR, 2006) is a collaboration with Murmer.
(Patrick McGinley). Drones are obtained from
the sound of refrigerators, thunderstorms, sheep, car horns, ferryboats, windblown sand and crackling charcoal.
Torch Songs (Die Stadt, 2007), consisting of two LPs and a CD,
is a collaboration with Andrew Liles.
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