Label: Family Vineyard - FV24 • Format: CD Album • Country: US • Genre: Electronic • Style: Abstract, Experimental, Leftfield
SinceNew Zealander Rachel Shearer has created opaque, gurgling compositions under the well-chosen name Lovely Midget. Her music career Her first proper Raudive Rain - Lovely Midget - North Head followed in on Corpus Hermeticum. Later, she worked on sound design for feature films and the cartoonish bluster of syndicated television, adding to her production arsenal.
And now there's North Heada dense sonic landscape brimming with interwoven, minute abstractions. A distillation of two years worth of recording, the gothic-tinged North Head resembles the incidental crumble of fellow New Zealander Peter Jefferies, especially the kitchen-sink aura of his Last Great Challenge in a Dull World or Michael Morley's noisy, protracted solo work with Gate. The influence of some non-New Zealanders is detectable as well: electronic music pioneer and composer Pauline Oliveros' notions of deep listening are also apparent in Shearer's sustained interweaving of keyboards, guitar, flute, vocals, and digital processing.
Moments of North Head invoke a tenser, more saturated take on Primordial Lifta field of long notes bolstered by Oliveros' accordion, electronics, and vocals; fattened with the electronic violin of Tony Conrad, the harmonium of David Grubbs, and a sea of cellos and low frequency oscillations.
In this vein, the album's opening title track floats by in Elonkorjuu - Harvest Time deep freeze. Not as successful as some of the other pieces, it hinges awkwardly on the jarring sound of distant female voices. Not singing so much as vocalizing, these women were recorded in caves and their echoing shouts remain below the level of the music.
A beautiful track in some respects, the too-pronounced humanity removes the aura of the more mysterious, organically anonymous works. Likewise, "Dolphin" ends the album abruptly, with the sound of voices sped and slowed, intermixed with string reverb, picking, scraping. Bolstering and assisting the title track, though, is any accompanying visual loop of falling snow and falling pedals.
Shearer filmed these frenetic landscapes then re-sampled and looped them, exploiting generation loss and magnifying the grain of both the water, trees, and the medium itself. Throughout the album this swarm of multi-layered sonic information remains fairly continuous. The best tracks are positioned within a foreshortened field: layers appear homogenous but drip nuance.
Its fog and distant ghosts bring to mind Nurse with Wound's Salt Marie Celestebut remain more interior, a frozen chunk of claustrophobia, the inside of Raudive Rain - Lovely Midget - North Head anchor.
These tones are supported by the vaguest impression of intermittent percussion. Here, I thought of a microphone charting the decomposition of dry ice or, quite differently, bugs caught alive in amber attempting a strenuous escape.
On North Headthe occasional fragment dislodges itself from the pack and begs for your attention, but then it's gone. Unfortunately, the seven tracks are relatively brief. Ranging from three to seven and a half minutes, these environments warrant a lengthier stay; then Verbal Abuse - Exploding White Mice - Exploding White Mice Raudive Rain - Lovely Midget - North Head landscapes could then last as long as they demand, clattering rivers pushing towards a distant location, endless.
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