Patrick McGinley debuted the moniker Murmer on the album
.Murmer (2002), a set of compositions from
field recordings of 1999,
documenting the life of a new American immigrant in London.
.Rumer (25:43) is an elegant and creative manipulation of the sounds
emitted by a computer modem and a telephone line, initially only a quiet
background sound and then increasingly loud and grating, as if to remind us
of their constant presence and dominance.
.Errum (14:07) toys with the air vent of a bus, a malfunctioning gas heater and a subway escalator, and again morphs from a subdued background noise to
a thundering crescendo of dissonance.
Eyes Like A Fish (2002) opted for a more "literal" collage of London sounds.
The pounding cacophony of Part 1:3 stands out.
Definition (2003) contains three lengthy compositions.
In Oracle Extended (21:16), scored for synthesize loop, trumpet, water bottle and feedback, the found sounds are repeated and dilated until they acquire a sort of spiritual, mantra-like quality; a peak of pathos in Murmer's career.
Spoke Speak (16:37) is a Dadaistic piece for bicycle wheel that turns
into a nightmarish crescendo, another peak of creativity.
Liquid Solid (21:08) blends a multitude of found sounds into a thick multi-threaded grating drone that slowly acquires a menacing quality (later "remixed" as Specular Reflection in 2010).
They Were Dreaming They Were Stones (2004) contains
a (ear-splitting) prologue and four parts:
the first one harsh and energetic, the second one a
dizzying blend of mundane noises, the fourth one a loud, sordid, fluctuating drone.
The sprawling Husk (2006) was a collaboration with Jonathan Coleclough
that consists in lengthy slowly-evolving
droning compositions like Husk (30:36) and Germ (21:19).
Unfortunately, much of it sounds self-indulgent and redundant.
Approaching Pucara (14:30) and
Wend (20:55), in particular,
would benefit from more selective editing.
The calmly boiling inferno of Freon (15:15) is the most accomplished piece.
We Share A Shadow (2007) contains just two lengthy untitled
collages of field recordings. The first one manipulates the found sounds to
turn them into something very similar to droning musical instruments.
The second one begins unaudible and slowly grows into a sort of cosmic turbulence.
In Their Home And In Their Heads (2007) contains two brief collages of
sounds recorded in a London park.
In 2009 Patrick McGinley relocated to a rural village of Estonia.
What Are The Roots That Clutch (Helen Scarsdale, 2012) contains
five untitled compositions
composed in 2010 from field recordings of the previous five years.
The multi-layered chromatic tapestry of the 18-minute first movement, that engineers a duet between a calm rumbling drone and the natural sounds of waves and crickets,
the mutation of a delicate liquid filigree into a hostile urban roaring noise of the third movement,
the interaction between metallic percussion and droning strings of the fifth movement
rank among his artistic peaks.
His "framework" compositions of untreated field recordings, dating as far back as 2003, are documented on the double-disc Framework 1-4 (2012), notably the disturbing Framework 1 and the 35-minute carnival of voices of Framework 3, another peak of his practice.
In 2012 Murmer began to stage live, site-specific, performances called "echo surveys", three of which are documented on Echo Surveys (2014).
Songs For Forgetting (2016) contains five compositions that combine "musical instruments" (which includes a radio antenna played with a bow by the artist, and trash played by the artist and two friends, besides zithers and a kora) with field recordings of things such as a large sand timer, rain, fireworks, waves and even an ant colony (recorded between 2007 and 2014).
Song for Forgetting and
Third Song for Forgetting are close relatives of ambient music, with
the field recordings upstaged by the drones of the stringed instruments.