This re-issue of a set of CDR field recordings now emerges as a tour de force for Canadian based Infrequency Recordings. Documenting and interacting with a field of snow in British Columbia, artists Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen have taken their original installation piece, and offered it up for remixing by fellow collaborators, Yann Novak and Tomas Jirku, as well as re-mapping the contours of their source work, recorded in 2003.
This is a densely layered piece, not only a direct recording of snow activity, but also thematically and compositionally corresponding to all the manifestations of snow. The original installation piece (thoughtfully provided as part of the two disc set) sets out to record snowfall, interspersed with energetic sampling that gives life and energy to the field recordings, that are muted, grey renderings of dappled sound. Essentially, this is minimalism with a capital “M”, pared down to minute shavings of granular texture, and like a Mark Boyle installation, literally brings the outdoors into a gallery environment, blurring the boundaries between the real and the simulated.
As snow is formed it is subjected to varying combinations of pressure, temperature and humidity, giving each flake it’s own unique characteristics, and disc two is the corollary of these self-same characteristics, an exploration and explosion of sonic possibilities.
The remixes open with Yann Novak’s “Snow Storm”, adding flesh to the pallid bones of the original pieces, injecting pastel shades and warmth..here the layers are exposed and infused with further textures and gentle meandering tones. On “Raking Light Across a Frozen Path” , Drouin gets to add to his original pallette, with a lilting, looping central theme, a sedate, yet engaging interplay of tones and textures, once again adding light and shade to the source material. Olsen takes a more oblique approach on
“Snowfield _Avalanche”, skewering the original work, and pushing it through all manner of distortions and perturbations..the dense resonance of the source material is gone, replaced by a highly filtered, digital composition that skips and stutters, occasionally hitting points of equilibrium that float over warped tones, and squelchy sampling. Tomas Jirku pays respectful homage to Snowfield, never straying too far from the original piece, yet adding further layers and further textures, high blips and tones serve as counterpoint to the original piece, and it’s title, “Animal Tracks in a Field of Snow” say more than I can about the piece. Droiun completes the remixes with “The Walk Out”, a warped and overdriven excursion that reminds me of Zoviet:France, circa “Mohnomishe”, a winding, tonal piece that teeters on the brink of noise music, its overdriven textures resembling a dark choir in some icy, subterranean cavern.
As an exercise in remixing , this is a worthy collection, that bursts with ideas, and given that we are also afforded the opportunity to encounter the source material as well as the remixes, an interesting release from a promising young label. BGN