ROBERT CURGENVEN – Beyond Enclosures

Recorded Fields Editions

Something that elicits my cynical chuckle is witnessing the “feels-so-good” charade by folks parroting around drivel on the presumed beneficial effects of 432 Hz over other tuning frequencies. To these people I recommend an attentive perusal of the introductory notes to Robert Curgenven‘s Beyond Enclosures. Not only will everything that makes up the foundation of this release be explained to them, but they may get a sense of how the complex nature of systems built on the interconnectedness of acoustical, environmental and human features is a far cry from new ageish flapdoodle promoted as God-given laws regulating the universe. 

A continuous, flexible shifting is a crucial determinant of existence. Perception is based on individuality and, in particular, on the perpetual changing of the physical states of matter. It cannot be reduced to half-baked idealizations. The triad of distinct compositions that shape this compelling study by the Australian multimedia artist have several attributes capable of triggering in the listener a reaction, or – better said – an evolutionary adaptation to what they receive in the form of audio, silence, or a mixture of the two. 

“Bardo” combines the upper partials of a pipe organ with three turntables and a piano. The music hybridizes an installation soundtrack and a specific variety of minimalism, as harmonically elusive as it is logical. Out of stillness, evocative waves gradually materialize, interspersed with the crackling of degraded vinyl plus less identifiable shades. The totality of the components generates a soundscape that is somehow reassuring, but never congealed on the same dimensions of hearing. The five-part “SPECTRES” is more directly affecting thanks to the systematic pulsing of the tone generators, decisively orientating the receptive apparatus towards a mesmerized condition. In a subtly dispersed manner, hazy aural appearances of metropolitan descent function as a background while keeping our alert level sufficiently high.

Apropos of the influence of frequencies on beings, the aforementioned pipe organ probably stands as one of the most powerful means for eliciting extreme alteration in disadvantaged psyches. Curgenven closes this extended effort with “Bronze Lands”, the recording of a live performance for organ and sound system. Apart from the psychoacoustic functionality on the susceptible listenership, this piece – diffused across Sydney’s Town Hall through a setup that included 18″ woofers – possesses a definite historical valence if we examine the correlations between the elements, for which I refer you once again to the liners. Aesthetically speaking, it’s a regal accumulation of long drones and rather painless chord changes. However, the significance of the whole lies in the insidious resonances initiated by overtones of different types and intensity. This writer was left in a state of marvelous vacillation: eager to continue the learning process, delighted to have been glimpsed by the inexplicable wonder caused by unintended patterns of engagement.

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