Recorded between 2016-17 here we find two longtime experimental composers at work, and both women have pioneered new sonics at every turn over five decades. Released via the Soundscape Series (Gruenrekorder; 2xCD) New Zealander Annea Lockwood and German Christina Kubisch deliver The Secret Life Of The Inaudible. The record consists of four tracks, two from each artist, separated on the two included disks. Starting off with Wild Energy (with Bob Bielecki) Lockwood darkens the room with a earthly rumbling, maybe she’s a storm-chaser? The atmosphere is cavernous with sudden broad bass. As she conducts this muffled noise symphony tiny starry electronic blips emerge and disappear quickly. At 70-something she is still sculpting soundscapes with intuition and a greater understanding of minimalism. As the storm moves out a tiny watery ‘thwack’ grows into what sounds like distortions derived by nature. A rustling whistle plays audibly on the low range, just as promised in the title, with the occasional ripple runs through the mix. Towards the end of this half hour piece electronic chirps are met with a slight space drone and great pause.
Up next is Lockwood’s Streaming, Swirling, Converging. The setting is a tiny campfire with spiraling synths crossing the threshold into aural cinema. It’s perfectly peculiar and low range. The signals are open and buzz like diminutive electrical appliances. The subdued actions are part science, part space exploration. But it’s the indistinguishable quality between what might be field recordings and what might be pure static that finds its way through the basic fabric here. One thing is clear, there’s a wild scientist at the helm and she’s wielding energy in exploratory ways.
On disc two Kubisch enters with Nine Magnetic Places and right from the outset you can see why these two decided to put out a comprehensive, complementary recording together. The sound is soaked in low frequencies and despondent drone that ticks and flares in reverb. Tape spindles gyrate and an open sound source offers a multi-channeled spontaneity that persists through the adapting drone. A percussive patter enters and grows slowly, building on a fluctuating sound pulsation, throbbing and dissipating. Perhaps what we are witnessing is actual magnetization, amplified and divided into portions. Whatever it may be it hits you in the center of your chest as you listen.
On the final piece, Below Behind Above, a near sinewave is delivered with a pitch just within the decibels of human understanding. As other microsounds crunch and are sorted, a lower tonal structure is layered with what could be a passing plane or wind at great heights. The laminous ambiguity is what makes this so intriguing. The work appears to breathe in discordant grace, laid back at times, and awoken by sporadic small waves of hiss. At midpoint the atmosphere changes, new actions are delivered that agitate the seemingly living drone. These complex percussive elements are raspy, like corroded tin, an underwater propeller, and mysterious flying objects. In the final act wriggling electronics and clunky clicks make for a diluted, drunken conversation. It’s a jungle out there, and in here we are courted by Kubisch’s unexpected sonic sources.