Boomkat Product Review:
Hallucinatory and labyrinthine, Lawrence English and Werner Dafeldecker's new collaboration is a thing of reticent beauty, requiring careful observation to unearth its secrets. Made up of surreally altered field recordings, it's a set that'll appeal to anyone wowed by Sam Dunscombe's 'Two Forests / Oceanic', or Irv Tiebel's 'Environments' series.
Lawrence English studied the landscape of Australia when he was figuring out exactly what he wanted to capture on 'Tropic of Capricorn'. He was drawn to the Pilbara region on the Western Coast, and to the desert where the Arrernte people reside, places he says "shun contemporary ideas of civilization" and are pockmarked by traces of failed colonial projects. Buildings left from failed ranches scar the landscape, and in Pilbara, mining equipment and heavy industry is a reminder of the extraction that still goes on in these sacred spaces. English made a series of recordings, which he then sent to veteran Austrian sound artist Dafeldecker, who treated them in ways that might be imperceptible at first. Using glass, metal, wood and skin, he re-recorded the material with transducers, creating an uneasy atmosphere, where what you think you hear might not always be completely correct.
On the first side, we can make out the buzzing of insects, fires crackling, rain pattering on metal, machines whirring, wind blowing and birds chirping, but this is just what's on the surface. The closer we listen, the more hypnotic and confusing it becomes: is it really a bird, or is it some kind of audio process? Is that the drone of heavy machinery, or a vibrating surface? On the flip, Dafeldecker's involvement sounds clearer. English's recordings are faded with drones and percussive crumples in the first half, layered and manipulated more plainly. And as the composition develops, birdsong gives way to eerie vibrations and twanging piano strings. It adds a cinematic elegance to the track, and sounds just as sobering as English's subject matter..