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CD Feature/ Seth Nehil & jgrzinich: "Gyre"

img  Tobias

Thank god for the internet! Let’s forget about those cultural pessimists for a while, who see the free dissemmination and publication of art as a problem, not a blessing. But aside from the question, whether there can ever be too much music, the digital data highway has allowed for some collaboratons, which would never have seen the light of day only two decades ago. Such as with Seth Nehil and John Grzinich, who have kept their artistic bond intact, despite putting it to a strong geographical test. With Nehil residing in Portland, where, among other activities,  he publishes the “FO A RM” magazine on sound art and Grzinich working at the center for art and social practice in Estonia, the distance between them on the map has never been bigger. Yet the homogenity of their joint work has increased accordingly.

“Gyre”, in fact, never sounds like a collision or a battle, but more like the result of two different minds working on the same wavelenght, complementing one another and filling in the blanks. In three pieces of between ten and almost twenty minutes length, the duo totally encapsulates the listener with sound, building up a world, which label owner Jason Kahn accurately describes as “acoustic recordings (...) transformed into abstraction”. While the opening “Cast” still offers some harmonic guidance, with little drops of rain trickling into the picture and subaquatic murmurs moaning behind a transcendental drone, which breathes like a static choir, the remaining tracks enitirely turn to processed field recordings: Gentle knocks on wood, grinding stones, distant rumblings, metal being hit, birds chirping and objects drifting inside a liquid-filled basin in “Weald” and smouldering and crackling noises, as well as impressions of a lonely worker in a huge warehouse on “Furl”. And yet, “Gyre” is never satified with merely presenting all of these recordings and of using them as a showcase for the possibilities of technological treatment. In all cases, the source material has been moulded into a flowing piece of music with subtle changes, multiple layers.of aural events and a vast deepness. Behind the natural appearance of these compositions lurks a galaxy of infinite proportions, an endless pit of hollow structures, which lend them a majestic.aura. Just like one were stepping into a thousand year old cathedral, the mystery remains wordless and intangible. If the mooing of a cow can equal a chord change, if a drop of water can resonate like a melody and if an empty barn can take the place of an orchestra, then this is the point where sound art and traditional Western composition slowly converge.

It should be amply clear, that this kind of music takes up a space of its own and does not require for its actors to be in the same room at the same time. It therefore bears no surprise, that this album, despite its closeness, was mixed and remixed in three different countries. Still, as the air-line distance was increaing, Nehil and Grzinich could have easily lost sight of each other and have gone their seperate ways. The internet and regular mail prevented that and made “Gyre” possible. Again: Thank god for that.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: cut records
Homepage: Seth Nehil
Homepage: John Grzinich

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