More “Fresh” News From Mystery Sea

SIMON WHETHAM – Beneath The Swinging Bridge

An expert in installations, Whetham is not parsimonious as far as lavish reverberations and gravity deriving from the exploitation of frequencies are concerned. The only problem is that obtaining music from the various components in and around an overpass is not something that was never thought before (John Hudak comes to mind); furthermore, a protracted section in which we’re encircled by the calm burbling of the waters underneath the main means of connection does not quench our thirst for unusual acoustic scents. The CD is partially improved by the specific compositional structure given by the English assembler to these 36 minutes. Clanging halos, bell-like tolling, the above mentioned liquid segments (lasting too much, in case you didn’t get it) and a noisier final crescendo succeed according to a plain diagram. There are moments in which one manages to find a modicum of fulfillment but, overall, Beneath The Swinging Bridge is informed by rather exhausted types of sonorities. Not anybody’s fault, of course: just a sonic area that’s been on defibrillator for years now.


A Japanese soundscaper whose work I had never heard prior to Nille engendered something that my head tends to appraise optimistically on one side and disapprovingly on the other. Starting from the latter, let me just say that not only water has become an unendurable presence in this category, but also field recordings based on rustle (steps in the dirt, crunchy rubbing of earthly matters and the likes) and rolling-and-tumbling percussive emanations. Usually the “composer” tries to mask or enhance them through processing, yet they all sound the same, everyday, everywhere. Please stop that, will you? (Choral answer: “No, we won’t because many people are still fooled by this stuff and buy it”). This is all the more frustrating since, on the positive front, Sasajima is able to produce some of the most handsome, prosperous drones in this province, especially when turning the natural reverberation of the environment into a sort of overriding inert murmur. This alone is the reason for which the disc in question is worth of a couple of additional spins (your correspondent gave it four in a row, plus a fifth right now, to decide if it’s really valuable or not). The magnificence of those darker hues and their inherently rich harmonics caused the jury to emit a “not guilty” verdict – or, if so preferred, a “nice-but-it-could-have-been-even-better” sigh.

Mystery Sea

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