“Loud Listening” reviewed by Fluid Sonic Fluctuations

Loud Listening

It’s an exciting time, we’re only a month into 2019 and I’ve already received quite a lot of great releases that I’ve reviewed recently. Now it’s also time to introduce new series on this blog as well as continue with the first 2019 selection of music on Fluid Sonic Fluctuations (with my updated semi-random selection system). This is the next part of my Fluid Label Focus series on CRÓNICA, LOUD LISTENING, released in 2012, a great compilation of experimental music and sound art based on recordings from industrial facilities in Italy by 4 Italian sound artists (Alessio Ballerini, Enrico Coniglio, Giuseppe Cordano and Attilio Novellino). I selected this album yesterday. Over 14 tracks, totalling 1h59m12s the artists take you on a sonic journey of “loud listening” through the 4 original Industrial field recordings as the first 4 tracks which are followed by 10 pieces based on those sounds by 9 artists. The Digital download of this compilation comes with the 14 tracks in 16-bit/44.1kHz CD quality audio, the compilation cover in good resolution as well as a PDF file with a description of the release, tracklist, credits and links.

LOUD LISTENING as a compilation is a rather well flowing celebration of both the rough and resonant sounds from Industrial machinery and the people working there as well as a kind of appreciation of the hard work done by these people in these facilities translated into sound and music. On the first track Acciaierie di Rubiera by Giuseppe Cordano you can hear the sounds from the furnace with the same name. The sounds on this recording are in an audibly very big space with a very long natural reverb and the sounds of the machinery are often filtered through the resonance and reflections of the steel in the facility. The recording moves from distant machinery noises and clangs to closer whirring, swishing and hissing noises. The whole recording’s got a great “dark” ambience to it and the huge space comes across very well, allowing you to immersive yourself in the details of all the sounds in here. Then we have Grandi Molini Italiani by Enrico Coniglio which is a recording of a wheat production mill. This location has much more high frequency sounds and swishing sounds as well as audible talking from people working there. There’s more dronelike machinery sounds in here and the whole has a lighter sonic ambience although some elements border on subtle Noise style sonics. Afterwards we have Calme Cementi by Attilio Novellino, which is a recording of a cement factory, much more Noise sonics in here and harsher more piercing machinery sounds combined with swishing. The high frequency fluctuations are really nice and while the full recording sounds like a continuous process the changes in the general sound happen fairly quickly. All these industrial recordings are all quite entrancing actually. Then we have Port by Alessio Ballerini which is a recording of many industrial sounds from a boatyard. Again, quite a lot of high frequency whirring, swishing, piercing machinery sounds and distant clangs. The cool thing about this recording is the phase shifting that happens from some of the work done to the materials that are worked with in the boatyard which causes a kind of natural flanger effect that sounds pretty “fresh” and pleasant in a strange way. Then, on Before One, Gintas K kicks off the reinterpretations of the field recordings with a kind of “cubist” subtly glitched up version of the recordings. Indeed, the piece doesn’t really sound like Gintas K aimed to create “melodies” or rhythms out of the recordings but rather, build a new fictional Industrial facility out of all these recordings and this happens more often on this compilation. Rather than fully twisting the source material towards a recognizably musical piece, many artists on LOUD LISTENING build and manipulate the recordings into new non-existing Industial facilities through sound, though with many differences in sonic progression from the original ones and more abstracted machinery. Gintas K approaches it with a focus on the swishing and whirring sounds, massively phasing them up and twisting the sounds into waterfalls of Industrial processes and deconstruction of these same processes towards the end. A thrilling abstract reimagination of the Industrial facilities. On Calme Mathias Delplanque uses the recordings to create a subtle but gorgeously progressing Drone piece created using the fluctuating tones from the machinery, tuning them with eachother, creating a subtle diffuse hazy stream of sound and simple chords that progress slowly overtime. It’s like a kind of zen meditation sonic description of factory work, full focus on the task and clear your mind. On Billowing Blackening Bliss, Our Love Will Destroy The World turns the Industrial sounds into fuzzy drone infused Noise but with quite an ambient type of resonance in it too. The piece is a bit harsh but still hypnotizing and relaxing too in a way, making the facility sound like its machines are constanly shattering while in use but never fully breaking down with details of the machinery in action subtly moving through the fuzzy resonance. Great sound. On Piercing Clouds With Laserguns, Pure has created some of his nicest glitching and Noise work with a great composition full of mangled up and harsh manipulations of the source material into bursts, repeating patterns and short bits. The sometimes extreme dynamics created by the silences in the piece also add a great tension and unpredictable element to the music. In this case the piece perhaps doesn’t feel as much as a fictional industrial facility but rather like alien futuristic sterile digital sci-fi processes, in between mechical and digital data processing, a hybrid factory. The glitch and noise sounds will definitely be an exciting listen for fans of this kind of music (like me) but the composition also offers more than just sound design fun. Then on Tetramiss, Japanese artist Yu Miyashita turns the machinery recordings into dense film soundtrack like layers of glitchy high-tech percussion and deep catchy melody. It follows quite well after Pure’s glitch piece but in here the music progresses into more recognizably musical territory. The production has a very detailed and pleasantly polished Japanese aesthetic to it as is common with more Japanese artists but also not falling into sound design indulgement so again the music is also as captivating as it is refined sonically. The piece is quite compressed however, though this does match with the Noise edge of the music, great track. On One, Gintas K gives us a second track of music / sound art based on the recordings. This one is quite an intense track on a more extreme level in terms of listening experience. Gintas K uses a rising scale (that utilizes elements of the shepard’s tone infinitely rising psychoacoustic effect), pitching up pretty harsh resonant machinery sounds in steps for the first half which creates an effect that feels like a siren blasting at you and might be a bit off putting for listeners who don’t like Noise at all, there’s not much calm ambience in this piece, this is some piercing burning sound but for people willing to take this extreme experience it’s a great listen. In the second half Gintas K reduces the machinery to low pitched fuzzy buzzing, very slowly fading out the piece to silence. An extreme but also rewarding piece of raw sonic mayhem that does also feature quite a lot of details even through the screeching machinery siren sound. On Novantuno (per Enrico) @c reconstructs an industrial facilities by blending, amplifying and also quite heavily compressing the sounds reveailing many small details, ticks and resonances resulting in a pretty loud droning piece that’s both hypnotic but also seems to have creatures in it willing to communicate with us through the manipulated high pitched machinery sounds. Like the @c album I reviewed in 2018 the piece has a continous sound to it that can be revisisted many times, filled with details and moving elements in what is more like a situation or event of sound rather than a piece that follows a predictable and recognizable structure and it also ends rather abruptly too. A great soundscape like piece. Then on A Ballad For The Machine, Lawrence English goes for a suitably more subtle approach in deconstructing, perhaps even letting the sounds crumble and evaporate, creating clouds of machinery sounds feeling like metallic wind in the night after work has ended. The piece does feature some abrupt “clean” sounding bits of the recording which causes some extreme dynamics but it does add some nice contrast in the piece indeed. Mysterious sonic art. On Fabricaria Simon Whetham uses a lot of low and sub bass frequencies to create intensely rumbling, rhythmic and mysterious sonics derived from the recordings. The piece is very subtle in the mid and high frequencies with the sounds being extracted into very little and short high pitched glimmering clouds of glistening “magical” sound. It’s like distilling the deepest, most pleasant thoughts from the factory works and using the machinery to translate them into sounds. It’s quite a lengthy piece, but let your mind flow into the deep ambience and has quite a unique effect, great piece. On final track Dopolavoro the group TU M’ (not active anymore nowadays unfortunately) distills the machinery sounds into even more atmospheric droning clouds of sound. It’s probably the most accessible piece on the compilation with its mellow and vibrant deep ambient sound but the subtle progression and details make it a captivating gorgeous and positive ending piece to a compilation that first started with quite some dark sounds, great ending.

LOUD LISTENING is an intriguing, varied and highly imaginative compilation of industrial sonics derived sound art and experimental music in which the artists seem to construct new fictional industrial facilities or translate the worker’s minds into sound and music through manipulation and sometimes subtle, sometimes unpredictable compositions. It’s a great listen for anyone looking for Industrial work themed music and sound art as well as fans of Noise and related genres featuring (extreme) sonics looking for a more “real life” based soundscape approach to extreme music and sound art. Recommended compilation. Orlando Laman

via Fluid Sonic Fluctuations

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