I would hazard a guess that very few followers of the avant garde/marginal music scenes (call them what you like..I do..) will be without at least one Chris Watson release somewhere in their archives. I’m sure Watson is now a figure that needs no introduction within the context of this review, nor should his back catalogue, historical allegiances, and corpus of work be unknown to any of us by now either. So lets cut to the chase, and evaluate this latest release, sent to me by Touch, but released in collaboration with an Italian based arts project, Sound Threshold, whose operational parameters allowed Watson to explore the Italian region of Trentino via sonic and visual media.
Watson’s residency in Monte Bedone and Panveggio Park in Trentino set out to encapsulate the natural rhythms, phases, and nuances of the region in a singular release whose explorations and investigations demand deep and sustained listening. Watson is an artist in every true sense of the word, harnessing the world of nature, and using it as a template for his investigations..the world is quite literally his instrument, and on this release, as with many others now, the works become not only brilliantly executed slices of sound art, but an aural diary, a highly refined document of nature, exclusively devoted to one sense – hearing. With this singular sensory reference point, isolated from all others, we are privy to a multitude of sensations, an exquisite bond is created..a deeper sense of appreciation is engendered through these unique works that sharpen the focus, refining our attention span.
I am instantly captivated by the simple movement of mountain air on Cima Verde, or the minimal sounds emanated by Black Grouse, which Watson rightly describes as a “performance”. Some of these sounds, divorced from their essence, could be mistaken for some oblique form of instrumentation as on Scanuppia, or Valle dei Venti, Watson manages to crystallise and capture ecstatic moments, unique “performances” indeed..a celebration of the everday, albeit in a strange and beautiful location. Watson inhabits a singular artistic territory in the same way that visually, Andy Goldsworthy has, by patiently and rigorously combining the raw and often unpredictable elements of nature, and freeze-framing them momentarily, preserving and lauding them for further examination and re-interpretation.
Like Goldsworthy also, Watson enriches the works with his own notes and musings, and sometimes a glimpse into his overall techniques, adding more weight to his modus operandi. The two artists really SHOULD work together, as their approaches would be mutually complimentary, a perfect synergy of elements..but for now, we must content ourselves with yet another brilliant release from an exceptional sound recordist. Highly recommended. BGN