After a trio of spring discs, the taâlem label now rests on the brink of its 100th release. With 99 CD3″ offerings under its collective belt, the label is single-handedly keeping the format alive. The kindred minds at Hibernate / Rural Colours are also supporters of these tiny treasures, which can be handily stored in old cookie and tea biscuit tins. (Bonus: you’re invited to eat the cookies and biscuits first.)
The release above left boasts a title that is nearly longer than its size; a small font was necessary to print it. While it’s easy enough to say “summons of shining ruins“, good luck with masami ssi, dangsin ui him e su eobs-eoseo mian haeyo. naneun dangsin eul ij-ji anhseubnida. gamsahabnida. The 23-minute track is a lot humbler, a meditative piece that honors the temple displayed on its cover. The Japanese artist (Shinobu Nemotu) lulls the listener into a state of contemplate calm, choosing simple mood over complex melody. On its heels comes Yannick Franck‘s disc The Utmost Night, a slowly-developing drone that rustles, reverberates and rises into a cloud of electrical current. In its closing minutes, the track suppresses a burgeoning harmonic theme, burying it in swaths of shadow.
But the go-to piece in this trio is Frédéric Nogray’s wuritagu, a set of field recordings made around a Honduran lake. We last encountered the artist six months ago with Vaccabons Et Malfactours, which was his contribution to the series La Rivière. His instincts continue to be sharp on this new recording. Culled from hours of recordings made during different times of day, wuritagu is a perfect example of saying more by showing less. Few 20-minute periods would present such variety of sound, so it’s up to Nogray to cut, reassemble and layer. This compositional choice leads to great internal dynamism.
The piece begins with crickets and birds, but enters a watery period only three minutes in. One does not expect such surf from el lago negro, but the amplification is a boon. The wildlife continues to be a factor, in some cases increasing the cries in order to be heard by potential mates. In the eighth minute, a new bird sounds like a drop in the lake; a beautiful cry, repeated only a few times. As is now (sadly) expected in field recording works, an airplane appears in the eleventh minute, but Nogray approaches the subject from an different angle than his contemporaries. Instead of trying to hide the plane, he moves it to the forefront of the recording, integrating its drone with the drone of the running water. The local animals respond with glee ~ that is, until a thunderstorm hits. That’s a lot of drama for a short work, but it’s great for a time-crunched audience. Nogray seems to be saying, “I know you don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll get to the point: here’s all the good stuff.” The recording works on every level: as aural document, as tour guide and as composition. It’s one of taâlem’s finest discs to date, a fine lead-in to the upcoming centennial. (Richard Allen)