|1||The Eccentric Press / Die Exzenterpresse||22:34|
Two musique concrète symphonies of industrial sound, in which musical relationships emerge from sounds more often regarded as noise. All the sounds were recorded by Sounds of Changes, a pan-EU project capturing obsolete and endangered industrial and domestic sounds.
It’s hard to know when a sound is endangered – we never know what technological changes are around the corner. My work as a composer is concerned with environmental sounds and the sound of industry and machines. I use these sounds as the compositional building blocks of my music, and manipulate and compose with them. The source material is recognisable throughout, even when manipulated, juxtaposed or overlaid.
Sounds are disappearing without us even noticing. From the gradual evolution of everyday tech sounds to the sounds of old Routemaster buses, whistling kettles being replaced by hot water filters, we can’t notice the changes while we’re in the midst of them. Sounds of Changes is an epic project documenting these endangered sounds before it’s too late.
The Eccentric Press / Die Exzenterpresse focuses on recordings in Germany, made with the LWL-Industriemuseum in Dortmund. The sinister opening atmosphere of Wuppertaler Schwebebahn Station in western Germany gives way to the rattling tones of a button sewing machine. We’re in an industrial space soundtracked by machines. The chugging rhythm of a steelwork furnace is interrupted by the punch of a time clock. Pitched material is overlaid to create unexpected harmonies, whilst technology from different eras is coerced into a propulsive rhythm. This piece was commissioned and broadcast by Westdeutcher Rundfunk, Cologne on 9th April, 2016, and was a finalist in that year’s Prix Palma Ars Acustica.
Maudslay Engine was commissioned by ABC Radio National, Australia in 2016, and draws on recordings from Sweden, Belgium, Poland and the UK. Interlocking movements form a 20 minute composition, beginning with a Saab fighter jet, and ending with the eponymous 1838 steam engine built for Kew Bridge. In between, the background pitch of a metal cutter is shaped into a high frequency melody interrupted by a mortise machine. A stray pitched metallic sound from a linotype machine is transformed into a melodic interlude, superseded by the drone of a grain dryer – a huge machine that creates animal feed. The last melodic movement derives from the start-up sound from a vintage 1991 IBM desktop computer, before a fire truck siren closes the piece.