Fergus Kelly: Long Range
The Sky Above Our Heads
Whelmed In Deeper Gulfs
Left Hand Path
The Ground Beneath Our Feet
Recorded in Dublin 2008 - 2010
Sources: Invented and adapted instruments, percussion, bass, shortwave & field recordings.
"I wouldn't be surprised if more than half of the releases that come my way contain field recordings to one extent or another, sometimes just as one element among many, often processed, sometimes pure and making up the entire sound world. As I've said before, it seems extra tough to quantify these things except to use a kind of photographic aesthetic, including that of the snapshot. Why do Eggleston or Winogrand stand out, for instance (why indeed?). In any case, here are two fine discs, one which uses said recordings as an element among many, the other just awash in them, each quite different, each quite good.
Kelly (who I believe is a bassist at heart) uses a kind of kitchen sink approach while constructing dense, grimy sonic episodes. One track, for instance, lists "bone, alarm bell, bowed spring, rubber mallets, frame drum, cymbal, coffee whisk, inside piano, bowed telephone bell, bass, processing). At its best, as on the first and last tracks here, there's a very strong cinematic feel, a kind of implied narrative for which the listener can easily supply his/her own story details, Kelly's growling construction rolling through streets clogged with children and worried mommies. He generally utilizes a very wide range of pitches and densities, creating a space that's full, dark and somber while retaining a crispness and airiness that's very enticing. Really well done work, give a listen."
Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
"Following his CDR 'Fugitive Pitch' (see Vital Weekly 709) here is another release by Fergus Kelly from Ireland. Like on his previous release he explores textured music, or rather music made with textures. Per track he lists on the cover what kind of sound sources he uses, such as rubber mallets, frame drum, coffee whisk, brass rod, spinning top, cymbal and field recording: and that's just the first piece. To me it seems that Kelly made quite a progression since his last release.
The pieces are gentle, careful, quiet and introspective. Kelly plucks the strings, uses a bow on sheets of metal, bangs the inside of a piano and uses a small variety of sounds per piece. Sometimes the mood goes up and lots more seem to be happening, such as in the closing piece 'The Ground Beneath Our Feet', with rattling percussion and bowed sounds. Throughout this material shows a great depth and is highly atmospherical. It shows also a variety in his use of instruments and sound sources and makes a truly refined work."
Franz de Waard, Vital Weekly.
"Ridiculously tired tonight after yet another day at work, up at 5 on a bank holiday again, though home at a reasonable enough hour to be able to listen and write, though as I type this late this evening its a struggle to keep my eyes open and sit up straight. The music is good though, so its not been hard to focus on the listening.
So, amongst other things, Julie bought me a Japanese cookery book for Christmas. The pictures of food inside are fantastic, but as is often the way with these things, the list of ingredient required is somewhat daunting, in many cases a whole stream of items I have never heard of. Listening to Fergus Kelly's new album Long Range and then reading the list of items used to create the music gives me a similar feeling. The music sounds good, but if you wanted to recreate it you would need bones, a coffee whisk, some fishing line, an egg slicer, telephone bells, a spinning top and no end of mostly metal percussion. Kelly uses all of these objects and more to record various sounds, adds a few carefully selected field recordings and then applies some processing before compiling it together on a computer to form the eight tracks that make up the disc, which he then bakes on a low heat in the centre of the oven for twenty minutes. OK, so I made that last bit up...
I have always liked the kind of dark, vaguely industrial sounding murkiness that has always existed in Fergus Kelly's music (this is his eleventh release on his Room Temperature label, and he appeared on all of the first ten) On this new release though he seems to have taken a less drone-based and more structured approach to his music, which is a pleasing direction to hear him move in. There are still many sounds of bowed and struck metal, and rubber mallets rubbed across various objects etc, but there is a more spacious, positioned feel to the music on Long Range than I have heard in Kelly's previous work. Each sound here feels important. Nothing can be hidden under the surface of the drone, and while some looping of samples occurs on this album it tends be used right upfront as a feature rather than to try and create the sensation of layered depth so often used in this kind of music.
So everything is slow, somewhat ritual and mournful, and mostly very precise and carefully organised. Here and there though field recordings are suddenly added to bring a degree of uncertainty to proceedings, but they are not overused and the placement is well done. The fifth track here, Wavelength is a perfect example as slowly rotating deep metal chimes dominate until suddenly a brief recording of an elevator made in New York flutters into earshot and sparks the track into a flurry of activity that compliments the austerity of the rest of the track nicely.
Throughout the disc the juxtaposition of languid, solemn, often faintly rhythmic sounds and lighter, more sudden interventions is used frequently. What gives the album a strong sense of accomplishment though is the confident, bold compositional structures, with each sound really pushed forward to be heard clearly beside those nearby, so at no point does the music become that thick soup that this kind of music often descends into. Long Range is Kelly's most mature and individual work yet and comes very much recommended."
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear