Psychoacoustics Galore

JACOB KIRKEGAARD – Labyrinthitis

Had wanted to listen to this for months, finally did it today. To cut a very long story short (since, in order to understand these absolutely fascinating practices, a set of explicative liners is waiting for you) Labyrinthitis originates from DPOAE (Distortion Process OtoAcoustic Emissions), namely sounds emitted by the cochlea upon incentive by external tones (as opposed to SOAE – Spontaneous OtoAcoustic Emissions, autonomously generated by the inner ear in absence of stimulus). The emanations were recorded by Kirkegaard by placing minuscule microphones and speakers inside his ears, so that he could amplify and translate the results of the stimulation/response method into appreciable matters for the poor humans not undergoing the actual treatment. A remarkable experiment, lasting circa 38 minutes on disc, that actually generates a well-perceptible reaction from a sympathetic brain (provided that one plays the CD at considerable volume); but, in all honesty, not really an earthshaking assertion. In terms of pure sonority, the overtones perceived – not subliminally, rather “vociferously” – render this mass of superimposed frequencies often comparable to overhanging chords held in the higher registers of an organ, with a degree of pitch fluctuation and “beating within”. The latter components constitute the specific reason for which our interest is maintained alive for the entire course. The outcome gets concretely evident as soon as the whole’s over, as we seem to feel a little dazed (the final section is indeed the place where the stunning effects become substantial). Quite rapidly, though, the perceptive systems adjust to the newborn silence. Fine enough stuff, yet I expected a tad more of emotion-eliciting substance. On the contrary, there were exclusively cerebral answers, in turn generating transfixing sensations. The aid of the listening environment in diffusing the waves is a must. (Touch)

CORY ALLEN – Hearing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Things One Hears

“Best suited to be heard by the peripherals of the attentive mind”, as written on the press blurb. That pretty effectively defines this polite record, consisting of five electronically generated segments revolving around consonant, if somewhat autonomous structures where a clutch of linear designs, either partially superimposing or more unconnected, gently unfolds in almost total intelligibility. Underneath, we can take advantage of Allen’s subtle work with nerve-titillating frequencies accompanying the otherwise straightforward arrangement with its own effectiveness, to the point that one tends to instinctively favour that sort of indistinct pervasiveness to the essential melodic materials. An odd variety of “humanly mechanical” minimalism that should appeal to a good number of listeners, as it’s both intriguing and easy to understand (which is a plus in my book). A sort of association – as inevitably found by this never-really-contented commentator – could be individuated with David Behrman’s records on Lovely (think, for example, Leapday Night), though Allen doesn’t dig that deep. Still – to quote again from the composer’s notes – “the key to experiencing the full depth of the album, however, is to listen attentively as much as passively”. That’s fine enough, except that I can’t manage to analyze music listened unreceptively. By putting the attention in, several points of interest were spotted: try and find them yourselves, too. (Quiet Design)

ROLF JULIUS – Music For The Ears

The first CD in a series of eight that will be covering Rolf Julius’ work over the last thirty years, Music For The Ears manifests like a sudden, unexpected reward after a whole day unsuccessfully spent in search of rational stillness. Recorded in 1979, these splendidly uncomplicated, unadulterated agglomerates of surprising pitches explores the relations between softly diffusing tones, elongated stretches of silence and apparently impregnable drones, as to determine a space for the mind to establish a code of respectful behaviour towards our body, inevitably taking advantage from the alternative way in which those constituents are recognized. “Song From The Past” revolves around effortless combinations of repetitive-yet-dissimilar patterns, the timbre directly connected to the fundamental nature of bamboo. The piece emerges as a sort of Pygmy mantra, a fragile prayer evocating divine beings able to unlock the spiritual attributes of the human race’s weakest segments from the earthly sufferance that seems to constantly plague them. “Music On Two High Poles”, on the contrary, recalls the beneficially monotonous qualities of Scottish bagpipes, frequencies decidedly incisive but not for a moment aggravating. Here the composer looks more interested in the beating of the adjacent partials, investigating aspects of static juxtaposition that summons up the spirits of celebrated minimalist composers, in spite of the fact that the tantalizing sympathy characterizing Julius’ motionless waves is truly one of a kind, definitely incomparable in its misleading poverty. If this is just the beginning, we’ll be waiting restlessly for the next chapters. (Western Vinyl)

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