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Andreas Bick: Fire and Frost Pattern

img  Tobias Fischer

Fire and Frost Pattern, by German composer and sound artist Andreas Bick, is an exploration of sounds generated by heat and cold temperatures. The album consists of two pieces of nearly identical length, each constructed entirely of natural sounds related to temperature.  Field recordings of geysers, volcanoes, icebergs, snow, fire, and cracking ice are used to create shifting rhythms and held tones that coalesce from seemingly random sounds to coherent “musical” ideas. 

Both “Fire Pattern” and “Frost Pattern” begin with the loudest sonic event related to that temperature extreme (a volcanic eruption; an iceberg collision) before documenting movement to a more moderate temperature. Sounds generated by such events as a smoldering fire, water droplets evaporating, and ice melting create fascinating rhythmic regularities and irregularities. Long, glissing bass tones are the result of sound waves dispersed through ice sheets. The dripping of water and crackling of ice make for a meditative soundfield transformed by “active listening” to soothing rhythmic grids.

The other intriguing conceptual realization inspired by Fire and Frost Pattern is the uncanny similarity of sounds generated by extreme heat and extreme cold. Bick uses a nearly identical form in both pieces to illuminate this point. The blasting volcanic eruption that opens “Fire Pattern”—the loudest “heat-based” sound on earth—sounds remarkably similar to the iceberg collision that opens “Frost Pattern.” In each piece, the opening sound is immediately contrasted with an extremely quiet temperature-based sonic event (evaporation of water, falling snow). From there the pieces move through the rhythmic resonances of what sound like flames flaring, snow crunching, wood crackling, water sizzling on a pan, steam, and countless other indistinguishable sounds. Bick manipulates the sonic textures into churning, inconsistent rhythms broken by textural changes and barely audible “drones” of found sounds. The compositions move through their respective “heating” and “cooling” processes, illustrating a decrease of kinetic energy, before settling on long tones.

Throughout, Fire and Frost Pattern is a fascinating work that magnifies and illuminates the intricacies of sonic events largely unexamined by human ears. At moments the pieces truly transcend the concept of “field recordings” and “sound art” to make a truly unique sensory experience. 
By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Andreas Bick
Homepage: Gruenrekorder Recordings

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