The Map Is Not The Territory

Available from Confront Recordings

"Any opportunity to hear a new recording by Max Eastley is a rare treat. Since the late 60s, Eastley’s been assiduously developing and evolving a personal synthesis of kinetic sculpture, environmental sound art, site-specific performances, invented instruments, and improvisational practice. Over that time, he’s performed fairly regularly, presented sound installations worldwide, and participated in art/science expeditions as part of the Cape Farewell Climate Change project. But recordings have been sporadic, this being his first in almost a decade. 

This time out, Eastley plays arc (his self-designed electro-acoustic monochord), joined by two collaborators who fit perfectly with his sensibility toward the resourceful mining of subtle approaches to deliberately-paced, sonic exploration. Dublin-based visual artist/composer/improvisor Fergus Kelly credited with “invented instruments, found metals, and electronics” works regularly in these sorts of improvised settings as well as developing multi-channel soundworks and radio pieces. Mark Wastell on tam tam, metal percussion, and “piano frame,” has long been investigating these strategies in a multitude of settings and impeccably rounds things out. The three have worked together in various formations over the last several decades and this recording effectively embodies their collective perspective.

The recording, deftly captured at Studio 3 in London in March 2017, is comprised of eight pieces which span 45 minutes. And while each probes at particular aspects of meticulously deployed textures, reverberation, and sustain they are woven together into a mercurial suite-like whole. Picking out individual contributions becomes next-to-impossible and really beside the point as the three patiently navigate their way through the gradually transforming skeins of bowed metal, microtonal string shudders, pulsating overtones, pin pricks of percussion, struck bells and gongs, and electronic shadings. The specific auditory nature of the instruments they have assembled are integral to the music, but it is the way they deploy them, with imperturbable symbiotic assurance, that makes this such an engaging listen.

One thing of note here is how the trio traverses their way across time. Bereft of any standard momentum or arc, the pieces are still imbued with a considered sense of progression. Subtle eddies and sonic ripples undulate as the intersections of changeable layers of sound gather and disperse. The three home in on an organic acuity toward pace and density. They have a keen ear toward how their sounds cooperatively accrue, letting things sit, and minutely nudging the amassed and overlapping layers of resonance and decay. There is nothing ambient about this music. Instead, it is imbued with their approach toward plying a simmering dynamism to collective, evolving, spontaneous soundscapes."

Michael Rosenstein, Point Of Departure

"Eighth opus of the Core Serie of Mark Wastell's 
Confront label, which we are keen to collect after number. Judge: Julie Tippets with Mark Wastell, a great Derek Bailey Company with tap dancer Will Gaines, Mark Wastell and Rhodri Davies, David Silvian (!) With the two aforementioned, Arild Andersen against Clive Bell and a Dunmall and Co.'s firefighter dedicated to the Coltrane Sun-Ship with Alan Skidmore, BenoĆ®t Delbecq ... Enchanting ... and exciting, I assure you! 

Max Eastley, a close friend of David Toop is an inescapable personality on the British radical scene specializing in the musical arc, close to David Toop. A stretched and amplified cable, rubbed with a bow producing drones and harmonics. 
Fergus Kelly brought self-invented / manufactured instruments and found metal pieces and Mark Wastell, its inevitable tam-tam (gong if you will), a metal percussion and the setting of a piano. 

The music is staggering and intersidereal. It is like somewhere in space, waves from the infinite suspended in the void bring us continuous and moving sounds, obstinate and ephemeral. After two pieces of 8 and 12 minutes, the three musicians contract their perception of time by playing shorter (two minutes or four or six) while extending and relaxing sounds that deviate with remarkable slowness. 

Distant rumblings, metallic whistles, drones rich in harmonics, slips on the surface of the tam-tam, esoteric friction of the arc in the bass. The slower the music, the faster the time. One is flabbergasted when the last vibration sounds and the last sound dies. A beautiful sound experience with few other similar. In all remarkable points: a CD not to be misplaced !!"

"The common thing here between both releases is not just the presence of Mark Wastell, but also the fact that both are improvisations recorded in a studio. The first is a trio Wastell did with Fergus Kelly on "invented instruments, found metals and electronics" and Max Eastley on "Arc (electro-acoustic monochord)", while the host plays tam tam, metal percussion and piano frame. I have no idea what they recorded that day. Was it one long session? Multiple takes? I do know it was cut down into eight pieces of music, somewhere between two and almost thirteen minutes. Max Eastley might be the most well-known name here, due to his work with David Toop in the Obscure Records series (a long time ago), I must admit I am not that familiar with what he does these days.

Fergus Kelly, on the other hand, is quite often in these pages as is Mark Wastell. This is the sort of work that I would expect the latter two to deliver. It is quiet and introspective, with a strong emphasis on overtones, slowly decaying beyond the point of audibility; music of small gestures played on unusual instruments, repeated so they sound like a loop, but it isn't, along with similar small electronic sounds, sometimes sparkling on top of that. It is quiet music, but it is not ambient music per se. Turn up the volume a bit more and you will be able to explore a whole world of sound that might get lost when played at a lower volume. 'Seizure Of Light' is a fine example of such a piece; feedback moves, bell sounds, the small crackling of objects and it reminded me of early 90s Organum, but gentler, yet ending on a denser note. This is a great album."

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Session photos by Fergus Kelly & Rupert Clervaux:

Mark Wastell

Rupert Clervaux

My 4 & 6 string devices, percussion and iPad using Samplr app.

Mark Wastell & Max Eastley

Max Eastley & Fergus Kelly

Mark Wastell & Max Eastley

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