“Music is a memory bank for finding one’s way about the world”, says Arkady Volchok in Chatwin’s The Songlines. It could be a fitting description for much recent field recording based electronic music y the likes of Michael RÃ¼senberg, Loren Chase, Eric La Casa and Aki Onda, whose photography graces the cover of Australian sound artist Lawrence English’s first release on the Portuguese CrÃ³nica imprint. But while the songlines on English’s earlier Ghost Towns crossed the “remote settlements that litter the vast Australian plains”, Happiness Will Beffall, like its predecessor Transit (Cajid) released earlier this year, travels further afield. It uses recordings made in Southern India, Singapore and New Zealand, as well as English’s native Brisbane, over which the composer’s guitar and electronics layer long, resonant spans of melody.
His fondness for clearly identifiable melodic cells and textural richness and warmth also recalls the work of Oren Ambarchi. “Adrift” and “I’ve Been Happy Like This” are first cousins to Ambarchi’s Triste and his work with 4g on the recent Erstwhile Cloud. There’s a real feel for the wide open space here, and English knows just how to render them into sound – it’s a shame JÃ©rÃ´me Noetinger has discontinued the Cinema For The Ear series on MÃ©tamkine, as it would be the ideal home for this music – but his landscapes aren’t configured to the outback and rainforest. “Parallel (Midgap)” features the uniquely forlorn sound of a distant undergroundd train, which, in conjunction with the composer’s fine ear for pitch, imbues the music with a poetic depth and melancholy all too often lacking in today’s electronica.