Boomkat Product Review:
Aussie composer and multi-disciplinary artist Lisa Lerkenfeldt uses Naarm's architecture to inform an undulating 40-minute piece, enhancing contact miked recordings of a local highway with subtle electro-acoustic processes.
Lerkenfeldt's last proper album, 2021's Shelter Press-released 'A Liquor of Daisies', was an endless fever dream of tape looped piano - 'Shell of a City' is something altogether different. To capture her environment in Naarm, Lerkenfeldt placed contact microphones beneath a highway, recording its "unearthly resonance". These vibrations were sculpted in real time, described by the artist as a "site-based improvisation" and only gently processed. The result is a haunted slab of electro-acoustic ambience, but it's not related to much contemporary ambient gear: this isn't floatation tank music or background sounds to figure out ChatGPT prompts to, it's the kind of low-lit industrial soundscaping you'd usually associate with Thomas Köner or Lustmord.
Any changes to the piece are tiny and barely noticeable at first. The movement creates its own discreet rhythm, as vehicles move up and down the tarmac, their engines contorted into ghosted whispers. Lerkenfeldt expertly extracts metallic resonances that add a tonal quality - it almost sounds like synthesis, or a hand-whirled wind instrument - and to know that it's generated from a highway gives it an extra uncanny grounding. The composition seems to melt time itself, eventually losing the initially-omnipresent rumble and leaving just the clamorous resonance, that rings into the void like a set of underwater gongs.