to orient themselves with coastlines

by lee noyes & radio cegeste

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ISR2-12 lee noyes & radio cegeste - to orient themselves with coastlines

1. broken only by the need for breath
2. to check their homeward progress
3. ion and bird
4. 19 Hz

comprised of two site-specific recordings captured in the latter half of 2011 on a windswept hilltop in Maia, near Dunedin, Lee Noyes’ and Sally Ann McIntyre’s, to orient themselves with coastlines is a confluence of sparsities, a sound world where an empty sampler and mixer in cyclic converse with a microphone in a series of feedback loops join the most delicate of whispered percussion, and a micro radio station operating as a largely contentless narrowcast framework becomes portal to a molecular, materialist audiblising of the aetheric electromagnetic.

Together these pieces emphasize situation, location, the close-in, spatialised listening of small speakers and small receivers. Each is an acoustic map of a moment which layers other adrift presents within itself, but remains live and open to the cues radiating from its materiality, the steep sided topographic features, the small intentionalities of gestural selections.

a certain physicality; acoustic gestural behind percussive elements meets a more deliberate restraint in the electronics - filigree tones are inherently fragile and quickly turn ugly with a heavy hand. a musical approach at the level of communication is underpinned by an attention to materials and a near-scientific enquiry : the sound artist as primary, empirical observer (physicist? botanist? cartographer?), grasping sounds ahead of their names.

samples from a broken accordion, prepared music boxes and other sound-objects are combined with the aleatory incidental sounds of the radio spectrum, in both FM and shortwave bands, the audible range of frequencies in the room being influenced not only by the mini fm transmitter but also a theremin, a shortwave valve radio acting as an amplifier, and from 3 – 20 small radio receivers, layered with rain and birdsong existing in the space, a simultaneous field recording. live sampling from 78rpm records takes in snatches of souvenir shellac discs from 1940s American popular radio shows featuring live birds, the ‘Ha rtz Mountain Radio Canaries’, themselves orchestrating on-air warbles in the studio with human accompaniment on organ and violin, an anonymous amateur pianist, a poem read by post war German writer Karl Krolow. finding a frequency in the room, it is held for a moment, only to fall outside itself, each point of stasis sliding into a wavering volatility, in a constant gathering of lines and threads, untaught airwaves sitting alongside environmental phenomena, between-frequency oscillatory chirp, the white flash and expand of electronic sound flaring like the electromagnetic pulse of an intense solar storm, opening out the hearing range of the sonic ecosystem, only to compress it to flatness. as though burning out. the frame.

these dynamics and those of the broken accordion connote the low tones of foghorns, obliterating an amateur, de-monumentalised community hall Beethoven, trailing off to lush thickets of birdsong, sine tones, electronic tracings, torn snatches of piano, ghost voices released and falling. the small scribbled details of these frequencies echo themselves in aftereffect. glissandi. bird, bird, bird. traced again and again, on sky’s avenue, where, as Krolow says in his most potent moment of audibility, “the roses of air. open”

-Sally Ann McIntyre and Lee Noyes, November 2011.


released January 7, 2012



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