Chris Watson – Cima Verde – CD – Sound Threshold

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



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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