Simon Cummings’s “間 (ma)” reviewed by Blow Up


Il titolo viene da una parola giapponese (ma) che ha a che fare con parti e intervalli. Cummings in un periodo nero della sua vita ne approfitta per lasciar andare l’immaginazione tra forma e non-forma a partire da alcune registrazioni durante il culto in una chiesa anglicana. Il primo pezzo (i titolo sono lunghi e/ bizzati) ne è un buon esemplo: si parte da una potente campionatura di un organo che trapassa poi una specie di ambient narcolettica. Disco bello ma discontinuo, paradossalmente per una monotona struttura di fondo che tende a ripetersi (da calma a tensione e/o vice-versa). (7) Girolamo Dal Maso

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New release: Simon Cummings’s “間 (ma)”


Crónica is delighted to present Simon Cummings’s first release in the label, “間 (ma)”, available as a limited release tape or stream and download.

The Japanese word 間 (ma) is one that is difficult to translate easily into other languages. The concept it embodies is a spatial one, specifically the gap between two discrete structural parts or elements, with associated connotations of an interval or pause. Steven Bindeman has described 間 as “the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form … Ma is not created by compositional elements, but takes place in the imagination of someone who experiences these elements. Therefore it can best be defined as the experiential place that is held by an interval.” As such, 間 is often regarded as an embodiment of ‘negative space’, where the apparent absence of substance or form or sound is rendered concrete and tangible.

Simon Cummings’ 間 cycle was developed during a dark and painful period of his life, a time when he was fixating upon silence, searching to find his artistic voice. His response took shape through meditation on the concept of 間, in which silence is not a simple absence or emptiness but rather becomes a focal point, with a shape, character, and energy that all contribute to a larger whole.

The composition process began with recordings made during the traditional Anglican service of Evensong. Everything was then removed from the recordings with the exception of the brief silences that fall between the various sections of the service, fragments of sound capturing echoes, resonances, and glimpses of ambience. These fragments were then used as the sound palette for a series of improvisations that formed the basis for each of the pieces in the cycle. They were subjected to extensive processing and sculpting, and are only occasionally heard in their raw state.

The concept of 間 implies a certain degree of tranquility and calm, but the emphasis in this music is focused on connotations of negativity. Put simply, this is angry music, veering between nervous, fretful twitching and unbridled, distorted ferocity. Rage and obsession are recurring traits throughout, manifesting in harsh, acidic, repetitive clatter and throbbing pulses, and even in the more quiet passages the music is designed to emphasise tension, unrest and a pervading sense of ominous dread. Listening through headphones or in an extremely quiet space is especially recommended due to the quiet and subtle material that features in some of the pieces.

Simon Cummings is a composer, writer and researcher based in the Cotswolds, UK. He composes instrumental and electronic music, both of which focus upon gradual processes of transformation. His acoustic work involves highly intricate algorithmic processes rooted in carefully-defined behaviours, the music emerging from stochastic relationships in which these behaviours are juxtaposed and intermingle. His electronic music explores the juxtaposition of noise and pitch, reappraising what defines each and their boundaries. Cummings studied composition, conducting, and organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire, at graduation being awarded the Creative Studies composition prize. Aided by a substantial grant from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Cummings undertook the Sonology and Masters degree programmes at the Institute for Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, at the same time studying privately with Richard Barrett in Amsterdam. He has recently completed a Ph.D. in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under the supervision of Richard Causton and Howard Skempton. The primary focus of his research is the exploration and development of new algorithmic and stochastic approaches to musical composition. When not composing, Cummings is an accomplished writer about new music; he is the author of contemporary/avant-garde music blog 5:4 and contributes to assorted print and web journals.

間 (ma) is available as a limited-release tape and as a download.

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Simon Cummings’s “間 (ma)” reviewed by Rockerilla


La riduzione del suono a un grado zero prossimo al silenzio rappresenta il fulcro della ricerca applicata nel suo ultimo lavoro su cassetta da parte di Simon Cummings. Improntata fin dal titolo al concetto di vuoto, designato dal concetto estetico-filosofico giapponese “ma”, l’opera consta appunto di una sequenza ininterrotta di intervalli, pause e interstizi, espansi fino a inglobare emissioni di frequenze ai confini della percezione. La ciclicità del processo seguito dall’artista inglese rispecchia così l’alternanza di antonimi entro la quale gli spazi vuoti sono collocati, offrendo una declinazione ambiziosa di un’ambience meditativa, SURREALE. Raffaello Russo

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Soon in Crónica: Simon Cummings’s “間 (ma)”

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Mathias Delplanque’s “Témoins” reviewed by Loop


Sound artist, music critic, teacher, composer for theater and dance and founding member of several ensembles releases his third album on Portuguese Crónica Electrónica label based in Porto wich is run by sound artists Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela.
‘Témoins’ contains three pieces that were commissioned works in which Deplanque made recordings in different sites. The opener “Roz”, was recorded in Roz- sur-Couesnon, in the region of Brittany, between April and May 2014 and mixed in Nantes in September 2016. The sounds collected here are of a farm apparently, with birds, pigs, cows, objects like chains or similar one, human voices, raindrops. This, without the intervention of any electronic device.
‘Bruz’ was recorded at the Faculté des Métiers (IFA) in Bruz (Rennes) between March and April 2011 and mixed in Nantes in May 2011. The ambient noise of objects and people talking while working, blend with the tinkling of bells and machines that throw out water to clean what could be a dairy. There is also no processing, only pure field recordings.
‘TU’ – that close this release – was recorded at the Théatre Universitaire de Nantes, on October 8, 2011, during a rehearsal of the Stomach Company, Ô l’air frais des bords de route and mixed in Nantes on October 9, 2011. On ‘TU’ the piano notes are in the foreground while listening to some dialogues and several noises but in which he appreciates some environmental keyboard lines that are in the background, very subtle by the way, but that give a disturbing touch, as if it were a soundtrack. Guillermo Escudero

via Loop

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Monty Adkins’s “Shadows and Reflections” reviewed by The Wire


Two pieces by the British composer, which grew out of a collaboration with the painter Andy Fullalove. They worked together on an installation at Bradford Cathedral, and Adkins created these pieces to expand on the meditative and light-filled quality of that show. The music is based on extended organ tones, and like classic recordings by Terry Riley or Steve Reich (among others) the closer you listen the more textures you’ll find revealed. Really a beautiful cassette, equals meditative and powerful. Byron Coley

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“The Waste Land” reviewed by Neural


The Waste Land has been issued in digital recording and audio cassette and has its origins in a 20 minute soundtrack for a documentary movie. The Italian-Swiss composer and sound artist doesn’t give any other details about it. However, it works as an exceptional amplifier of auditory perceptions and stimulates a kind of precise narration with visual paintings that lead to an “intellectual movie”. The second composition is “Voices from the coal mine”. Among the ghosts evoked we find Alvin Lucier the USA composer who dignified sound installations. In “My Extra Personal Space”, the work are guidelines which give birth to the modern taste in art or metropolitan matrix (soundwalking) which can be shaped in sound fields and capturing natural sounds, too, involving the listener in interesting and amazing sensory reportages.

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Mathias Delplanque’s “Témoins” reviewed by Silence and Sound


Mathias Delplanque est un sculpteur de sons, agençant les field recordings et les notes sporadiques sur son nouvel album Témoins. Il est l’assembleur de vérités unies par le collage de contrastes mouvementés et de quiétude nocturne, desquels s’échappent les bruits de faunes enfouies derrière les grandes herbes de la poésie.

Témoins possède une narration radiophonique qui n’a pas besoin de mots pour véhiculer son histoire, parcours cabossé, entrecoupé de pause et de bifurcations vers des sphères aux vagues aériennes, gorgées de pluie et de respirations, de portes qui claquent et de xylophones en suspension, de chants d’oiseaux et de foule lointaine.

Mathias Delplanque canalise les grondements, leurs offre une issue de sortie vers des histoires aux retournements gravés dans les sillons de spirales agitées. Pas besoin d’expliquer, juste ressentir ce trop plein de réalité broyée et déposée sur une toile de jute aux mailles souterraines, longue glissade vers des rêves au gout de vestiges de surfaces poreuses et de béton désarmé, déshabillés de leur intimité. Superbe. Roland Torres

via Silence and Sound

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Simon Cummings’s “間 (ma)” reviewed by Vital Weekly


The only time before the name Simon Cummings was mentioned in Vital Weekly was when a CD by Kenneth Kirschner was reviewed in these pages (Vital Weekly 989), for which Cummings wrote a text. He studied composition, conducting and organ and later on also at Sonology in The Hague and his focus is upon “gradual processes of transformation”. This new release has a Japanese character/word as title, which is pronounced as ‘ma’ and difficult to translate. “The concept it embodies is a spatial one, specifically the gap between two discrete structural parts or elements, with associated connotations of an interval or pause”, plus a bit more which I must admit flew right over my head.

The music was recorded during a dark period in Cummings life and he was fixed on silence and to that he made recordings “during the traditional Anglican service of Evensong”, and removed everything from the recordings, except silences that occur here and there, and thus it captured echoes, resonances and ambience. Everyone who has ever been to a church service (and I recommend anyone to do at least once in a lifetime to visit a service, preferably with singing and all that) has an idea of how that sounds. Cummings takes these sounds into the world of digital processing, and it has to do with the negative space; the music is full of anger, he says. It’s not something I would have extracted from this music should I just hear this music by itself. I would probably think of this more like computer-controlled processes of snippets of near silent recordings, which they are, but not in terms of anger or negativity. It sets me as a listener free from the way it inspired Cummings to compose these works and I can take a much different approach, and that is that I think this is a work of great beauty. The music is part quiet and majestic, slow and minimal and has occasional bursts of loudness, of a massive eruption occasionally and controlled streams of molten lava; it is not necessarily all very quiet and microsounding around here. The cover indicates various pieces on this cassette, but I enjoyed it mostly as a one piece per side kind of thing; like a solid long collage of various electronic soundscapes cut together. (FdW)

via Vital Weekly

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Ifs’s “Manifold Basketball” reviewed by Polifonia


Z mniejszą pewnością podchodzę do duetowego materiału Fischerle z Krzysztofem Ostrowskim (występuje jako Freeze i reprezentuje bydgoską scenę elektroniczną – tu nie chodzi o CKOD) wydanego dosłownie kilka dni później w portugalskiej Crónice pod szyldem Ifs. To króciutki album z wypełniającymi przestrzeń, a może raczej kreślącymi i projektującymi własną przestrzeń kompozycjami. A właściwie najwyraźniej improwizacjami, bo o ile poprzednio, przy solowej kasecie Wysockiego, można się było zastanawiać, co zaplanowane, a co spontaniczne, tutaj interakcja między dwoma znającymi się dobrze muzykami wydaje się mieć znaczenie kluczowe. Swoją dźwiękową przestrzeń Ifs rozpinają na kilku planach – mamy drobne zakłócenia/trzaski na pierwszym, czasem gęste skupiska filigranowych dźwięków, a szersze syntetyczne pejzaże z tyłu. Do tego dużo echa, być może sugerującego jakiś rodzaj nawiązania do muzyki ze studiów eksperymentalnych, ale zarazem też da się tu odczuć momentami poczucie braku konkretnego kierunku. Błądzenie bywa zaletą, tu przynajmniej jest się w czym zgubić, ale za to pewnie na końcu nie każdy się w tej muzyce odnajdzie. W całości nie jest to również rzecz do słuchania rano czy po południu, pewnie też nie w pracy. Najlepszym fragmentem wydaje mi się oniryczne Three-Point Shot Captured in Slow Motion z pogłosami niczym w jakimś korytarzu ze szkła.

via Polifonia

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