Thomas Tilly ~ le Cébron / Statics and sowers

Thomas TillySummer and winter rest on opposite sides of opaque vinyl like opposing hemispheres.  Need to cool down?  Try Side A.  Shivering?  Flip to Side B.  There’s always different weather somewhere, and le Cébron / Statics and sowers is a reminder that each season has its turn.

On the surface (pun intended), each side boasts a central theme: ice on Side A, bees on Side B.  Yet each also yields a separate fascination.  In “le Cébron”, it’s what’s going on above and around the lake: birds, planes, the sound of distant traffic.  Contrary to popular belief, the world does not stand still, even when frozen.  Thomas Tilly traveled to the frozen lake with three friends and a fun proposition: you smash the ice, I’ll record it.  This is the natural extension of a childlike glee; those raised in colder climes likely have their own memories of smashing ice on lakes.  But it’s more than just the joy of harmless destruction (although one wonders at the sound of sirens midway; did someone report the quartet?).  Tilly’s interest lies in the unique resonances produced by ice and the boundaries of ice, from thimbles of sound to cascades.  Different temperatures produce different frequencies; different thicknesses produce different timbres.  In short, one cannot hear these sounds anywhere but the areas in and around frozen water: the sound of ice skittering across ice, the echoes of air bubbles frozen then freed.

The extra element in “Statics and Sowers” is the feedback of a mixing board, which seems to duet with the bees.  A hive is a bustle of activity, the polar opposite of winter stasis.  “Busy as a bee”, the saying goes, and these bees are no exception.  As they zip around the speakers, one is grateful that they are not inside the house.  The first low-pitched sound seems at first to be that of an approaching truck, but soon reveals itself to be electronic in nature.  Higher-pitched tones eventually enter, dueling with the bees for prominence in the mix.  One wonders what effect the live feed might have had on the hive.  At times, one is unsure which is which, as the duet becomes a sonic melting pot.  The track seems to be a natural outgrowth of Tilly’s Script Geometry, released concurrently on Aposiopèse, especially the piece “Unidentified Insects Colony”.  On that album, Tilly treated his rain forest recordings as “synthetic sounds”.  When describing his work, the sound artist wrote that something in the forest “sounded like electronic noise”, although the opposite is more accurate.  “Statics and Sowers” pushes this idea to the extreme by allowing the natural to bleed into the unnatural.  And yet, the body is still hard-wired to react to potential threat.  No matter how menacing the electronic tones may grow, they cause less consternation than the thought of being stung by a single bee.  (Richard Allen)

Available here (with sound samples)

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