The Humble Bee & Offthesky ~ All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains

The photo work of Nieves Mingueza is dissected and reassembled, resulting in new creations.  Likewise the music of The Humble Bee & Offthesky, their sonic pieces glued together note by note.  In each instance, the seams show, but become part of the attraction.  All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains is the ninth entry in the IKKII Books series, which combines visual and sonic art in a manner that enhances each.

IKKII Books writes of Mingueza, “The often-cinematic themes in her projects have in common her fascination with old books, film stills, vintage cameras, poetry and minimal drawings.”  What better type of ambience to varnish her photographs than that of Craig Tattersall and Jason Corder, whose parallel portfolios treat music as abraded textures, producing a sense of nostalgia, their very edges blurred by time and loop?  The pointillist leanings of The Humble Bee ~ dots of sound, like truncated bells ~ are matched to extended textures that lean back into bygone eras, providing a map of memory.  Even the titles, which begin with “For Her Breath Is On All That Hath Life” and end with “Haunt Me Still,” imply a lost love who has lived a long life, and whose voice ~ in memory or phantasm ~ continues to be heard.  Mingueza’s fascination with the human body ~ especially the female form in sepia tones ~ hammers the point home.

Despite the artist tag, this isn’t just Tattersall and Corder; five other artists contribute music, providing the album with additional layers of depth.  Julie Slater’s mournful viola makes “And She Floats In The Air” seem like a rainswept elegy; Tattersall’s piano struggles to stay on note like thoughts on the tip of the tongue.  On “Bee-Like, Death-Like,” Rin Howell’s fragile, wordless voice is like a soloist singing a soul home.  Toward the end of the piece, electronic waves wash against a tape-covered shore.

Music boxes and bells mingle with static and crackle; strings sit atop synth and vibes.  Whenever the guitar visits, it contributes a feeling of comfort, an anchor in the windswept seas.  This is especially true in the closing piece, “Haunt Me Still,” which rises from pattern and abstraction into form.  With clarity comes gratitude; the author declares there was only ever one love, nestled deep in the heart. Even if the photographs burn, even if the cassettes corrode, the voice of the beloved will remain. (Richard Allen)

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