Boomkat Product Review:
With our knees practically knocking from the cold, a trip to Antarctica feels slightly sadistic, but the vivid concrète quality and dynamic of Samartzis & Ughetti’s recordings keep us rapt throughout.
A companion piece to their performance-installation ‘Polar Force’, Melbourne’s Eugene Ughetti helms this intrepid sound piece beside Philip Samartzis, a fellow Australian and electro-acoustic explorer noted for collaborations with Bernard Parmegiani and his 2017 field recording mission ‘Antarctica: An Absent Presence’. On ‘Array’ they dissect, layer and morph recordings of radar and scientific instrumentation used for upper atmospheric research and terrestrial communication to model and relay a feel for the sounds heard in the harsh climes of the south polar region, with particular focus on the way its nithering weather system’s extreme winds and temperatures affect the built environment inhabited by scientists (presumably clad in 12 layers of North Face).
More abstract than the impressionistic scapes of, say, Thomas Köner, the four pieces of ‘Array’ genuinely impart a sense of being isolated at the end of the earth with only humming machinery and the elements for company. Tactile to the timbral textures of concrete, metal and industrial resonances, the four works are alive with the hypnotic buzz of the place but also pregnant with a certain distressed tension - like we're being encouraged to wonder how much scarier it would be if the life support sounds were to stop. Suffocating and powerful.