Boomkat Product Review:
This wonderful Lawrence English-curated compilation documents a number of works commissioned by the Queensland Music Festival in conjunction with Brisbane Airport, calling on the compositional talents of all the leading lights in contemporary electronic music, including Tim Hecker, Fennesz, Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Francisco Lopez, Marc Behrens and Toshiya Tsunoda, to name but a few. The music here all comes from the starting point of field recordings made by Lawrence English, capturing the sonic landscape of airports and air travel. Key to the success of this compilation is a distinct lack of external audio elements used in the compositions: the preservation of the source material strongly instils a sense of location, albeit in most cases displaced from any humdrum reality. The final piece on the second disc illustrates this perfectly: Joel Stern's 'Terminal Dreamer' reconfigures a potentially very dreary waiting space into a kind of vibrant botanical garden, bustling with life and interruptions from the natural world, the composer imposing a number of location recordings from other sources onto the airport's own auditory identity. There are plenty of more abstract works however, with the likes of Richard Chartier and Francisco Lopez conjuring microsound narratives typical of their respective back catalogues: Chartier focuses on the highest frequencies while Lopez nurtures the noisier signals out of the original recordings. Oddly, Lopez is no stranger to airport-themed music. He and Marc Behrens have previously collaborated on a similar project (A Szellam Alma) based on sounds from Frankfurt Airport, and it's no surprise that these artists are responsible for two of the finest contributions to this set: Behrens does an especially splendid job of weaving an enigmatic sound tapestry, producing ten minutes of inventive, unclassifiable acousmatic music. The second disc thrives on similarly detailed works by Jason Khan, Burkhard Beins and Christopher Willits, leaving some of the bigger names to stick to their own, rather more familiar agendas. Tim Hecker does precisely what you'd expect him to do, opting for luscious, harmonious drones and a bit of jetstream noise texture. Stephan Mathieu also retreads familiar territory with an epic twenty-four minute piece focussing on drifting waves and tonal elongations. It's all quite mesmerising and surprisingly melodic stuff. It comes as a most welcome surprise then that the biggest name here, Christian Fennesz, delivers something that has more in common with mid-twentieth century tape compositions than his own signature sound designs, resulting in a subtle, finely detailed concrète piece. It'd be hard to overstate how impressively diverse and creatively fruitful this double-disc set is, and certainly anyone with even the remotest interest in field recording or contemporary electroacoustic music should consider this required listening. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!