SPENCER GRADY / FERMATA ARK / MARK WASTELL
THUS : EXCERPTS FROM A SMALLER WORK
(confront core series / core 15)
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Factory pressed CD in printed double panel Ekopack cardboard sleeve.
Harry Smith (Fermata Ark) : composition, field recording,
post-production, mixing, mastering
Spencer Grady : 5-string banjo, ebow, violin bow, brass slide
Mark Wastell : violoncello, double bass, harmonium
Composed and arranged by Fermata Ark between November 2018 and April 2019 (UK/Iceland). Extra processing at Greenhouse Studios (Iceland). No extraneous instrumentation was utilised within these recordings. All sonic manipulation of a captured improvisation, all first takes. Instrumental source material from Spencer Grady and Mark Wastell recorded by Rupert Clervaux at Studio 3, London, October 2017.
Produced by Mark Wastell
Harry Smith’s work is always looking in two directions at once: towards sound, and towards process. Listening to ‘Thus’, we are clearly immersed in both of these: it is a glorious celebration of sound, spinning a world of glittering textures, hovering drones, and fractured kaleidoscopes; but we are equally caught up in the unfolding of the work, with the riveting feeling that we are discovering the work at the same time as its maker is, with a shared sense of discovery and rapture. The soundworld evoked by Smith follows its own inevitable path, with Smith perhaps serving more as host or catalyst than calculating composer. But this image is deceptive: there is impeccable mastery and control here – control of his sounds and materials, but more importantly, an effortlessly masterful control of the shaping of time – that mark Smith as an artist of remarkable insight and talent.
‘Thus’ is a work that rewards headphone listening. No background music this; it is a work to lose yourself in. It is by turns intoxicating, hypnotic, ominous, serene, profound. It is a world of space and of texture, moving effortlessly from the gentle fluttering of insect wings to the dizzying swirling of primordial masses. Occasionally, the curtains part, to reveal a fragile and human world behind; before we can quite reach it, the fog rises, the clouds close, and we are lost once again in a sea of sound.
It is difficult not to be moved by the music on this album. It is a tactile and bodily experience, music to be felt as much as heard. The feelings it evokes, the imagery, the sensations, are all fleeting, transitory, evading any attempt to take hold of them and draw them into the light. Give yourself up to this music. You will not come away unchanged. (James Andean)