Drouin/Olsen – SNOWFIELD – CD – Infrequency

snowfield.jpeg 

www.infrequency.org 

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

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About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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