Oenophiles love the sounds of wine: the corkscrew, the pop, the pour, the clink. Many musical works have been produced using these sounds. But travel deeper, and one will find other sounds associated with the product and the process. In their new works, Raffaele Mariconte and Alan Courtis & Cyrus Pireh use different approaches and focus on different angles, but their works complement each other.
Raffaele Mariconte‘s So(E)nology concentrates on the fermentation of wine, and of the two works, holds the more recognizable sounds. These are the bubbles, the pops, and the charges associated with the process that turns the liquid into something tempting and tart. It’s unusual to hear hydophones used in this way, dipped in vats rather than streams; when one hears the crunchy electronic textures, one recalls the brine shrimp of Jana Winderen’s works. This is an entirely different world, yet it plays by some of the same rules.
Mariconte edits his recordings in order to bring out their hidden flavors and darker hues. By concentrating on small segments and snippets, he highlights different tonalities. So(E)nology often sounds like a chemical lab, filled with white-coated scientists, gurgling test tubes and bunsen burners, yet the fermentation process is far more benign. The spell is briefly broken only once, on “Tank”: taps on tanks with an invisible wink, an endearing reminder of the human element.
Alan Courtis & Cyrus Pireh‘s Coils on Malbec is a different animal. This recording captures sounds less audible: electromagnetic vibrations sent through coils connected through Malbec wine. It’s safe to say that few people have ever thought of doing such a thing. The results don’t sound like wine, but could not have been produced without wine, a tipped glass to the thought of alcohol as inspiration.
While the previous work sounded electronic, this work is electronic. One need look no further than the hands and wires shown on the cover. These represent only a fraction of the inaudible spectrum, the sounds typically heard by bees and dogs, but not by humans. Courtis and Pireh amplify and edit these sounds in order to underline them. Their tracks are longer than Mariconte’s – two side-long, 20-minute tracks – and more subtle. One can glean the compositional choices in the quieter segments, like those heard in the center of Side A: shifting frequencies and breakdowns, imitating those found in traditional musical works. Is this what we would hear, if we could hear everything? Would it be wrong to play this at a wine party in place of piano music?
For additional fun, try playing “Malbec on Coils” (Side B) at the same time as “Alcoholic Fermentation” (the first track on So(E)nology). The darker tones of the first are offset by the brighter bubbles of the second. The germ of an installation is here. They pair well; oenophiles, rejoice! (Richard Allen)