30.4.11

Two Cassettes From Winds Measure Recordings: Various 'V-p V-f is V-n' + Pierre Gerard and Andy Graydon 'Untitled (Magnetisms)' (2010/11)

The first cassette release from the ever impressive Winds Measure catalog comes as part two of a compilation series entitled V-p V-f is V-n. Label head Ben Owen commissioned over 30 sound artists to submit one or two very short pieces, approximately one minute in length. The first noticeable thing about listening to this is that the experience of it as a cassette has an immediate and direct influence on one's perception of the work as a whole. To listen to this casually is to accept its holism, as it very quickly becomes impossible to match the track playing with the track listing. Go to the bathroom and by the time you get back you're lost. This can be frustrating at first, though arguably V-p V-f is V-n is then, by nature, better understood as a kind of clever collaborative facilitation on Owen's part – think of it as a single, mutating composition by multiple artists – rather than a "standard" compilation. Hard to say what the difference is really, if there even is one. It's all in how one defines things.

If you do decide to sit down with this, some pieces will inevitably stand out. Side one sees a nice coupling of Lawrence English's Not for the Cane, a lush nature recording, with Ben Owen's Lisbon Station, a clattering of percussive ephemera. Sawako's 02 is also quite good. Side two sees Alessandro Bosetti's wonderfully warped take on sound poetry and Ben Scott's 2216(-.004), a recording of what sounds like an conventional radio track swathed in comforting static. Of 50 tracks and all the possible things that could have gone wrong, this follow-up in the V-p V-f is V-n series saw a remarkably cohesive outcome. Well done.

Another magnificently packed tape, this time a split between the Belgium based Pierre Gerard and German sound artist Andy Graydon. As the story goes, Winds Measure commissioned these gentlemen to produce a work specifically for cassette. The two answered the call with magnetism, a theme that is as fundamental to migratory birds as it is to the functionality of analog tape. Gerard and Graydon began planning their work while focusing on two phenomena associated with magnetism: homeward migration and polarity, eventually settling on a process in which each artist would send the other a recording from their respective home environments to process and compose with – Graydon sending a recording of bamboo in the forests outside his childhood home on Maui, Hawaii and Gerard sending a recording of a wooden table located outside a house in the French village Espère.

The A side, Orientation (Magnetite Crystals), composed by Gerard, fits nicely alongside the minimalist extremes of previous Winds Measure productions – Richard Garet's L'avenir and Jason Kahn and Takefumi Naoshima's In a Room come to mind. The piece is glacial, coalescing as a motionless stretch of time over its 20 minute duration. Gerard's micro-movements of sound are often listless, though occasionally they become spring loaded, vibrating through the speaker cones for a split second before they are gone, a new sound taking their place. Very consistent and a great work. Graydon's side is for the most part equally as enjoyable save for perhaps a few over zealous moments, though he makes up for it in the lovely ambient sections peppered throughout. A fine job that strikes me as easier to fall into than Gerard's piece, though ultimately not as rewarding. Again, a worthwhile release from Winds Measure, and if you haven't done so already invest some time in this under-appreciated label.

Excerpt: Orientation (Magnetite Crystals) by Pierre Gerard

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