Plains – Into Tone (Scarcelight, 2005)


Plains
Into Tone

CD Scarcelight Recordings slr41 (USA, 09-2005)

01. Into Tone

Tim Coster : field recordings
Richard Francis : computer
Rosy Parlane : guitar, computer
Mark Sadgrove : feedbacl, linuxCsound
Clinton Watkins : guitar
Paul Winstanley : electric bass, digital feedback

Recorded live at Version Festival, Kenneth Myers Centre, University of Auckland,
August 8th, 2004

NZ group quietly paint a beautiful, yet desolate landscape. As lonely as a night in the desert, as peaceful as falling through space……..you decide. (Scarcelight)

A digital document of a live performance by this New Zealand Sextet at the Version Festival is presented by the prodigious Scarcelight label. The six players on this disc are all of the interesting islands of experiment, New Zealand. Most of them will be unknown to all but the most discerning improv/sound explorers. Rosy Parlane might be the most well known among this group because of his international gigs, record label, and collaborations with the Mego fam and AMM old heads. But don’t sell the others short. Search the web for people with the last names Coster, Francis, Sadgrove, Watkins, and Winstanley; you will find connections to the Japanese improv community, computer programmers, contemporary sound art, and the keenest experimental music labels around the world. These gentlemen of the musical edge bring all of their contact with the world outside of NZ into this bite size segment of group projection and plop it right on top of the deep base of homegrown experimentation that their country is known for. The result is a minimal sound that subsumes the individual and grows colonies of pure sound on circles that touch on Japanese and European lowercase improvisation and the digital drizzle of thousands of laptop humanoids worldwide. As the group’s name aptly directs, this sound is one of flat, open spaces. But true plains dwellers(ask any Pawnee ghost floating around Genoa, Nebraska) will tell you that the plains are full of details. This recording is the sound of strange mechanical cities just beyond the horizon blending in with the locusts, pebbles, smoldering fires, and stars grinding the sky. The electrical and metallic signifiers become part of the environment. Eating and spitting out the sounds that hate it or ignore it. These sounds are created by human hands pushing buttons on computers, manipulating field recordings, listening to their guitars, and soothing the bass. The care and thought of the sound put into the creation of this piece give no indication of time, only place. This could be a full 80 minutes of disc if you listen without digital counters and little hands telling you how much time you’ve lost. A brown sleeved, infinite 33 minutes that prove that New Zealand is and has been representing with the best of the world class improvisors and sound artists. (Warren Realrider, Foxy Digitalis)

Taken from a live show in Auckland, New Zealand, Into Tone features the six-person collective Plains performing a one-track song that pretty well lives up to the album’s title. If there’s one particularly interesting if curious thing about the album, it’s the low volume it was mastered at: for at least the first few minutes, cranking it up is about the only way to hear the full details of what’s going on, as otherwise it’s near silent. This caveat in mind, Into Tone is clearly meant to be more of a subliminal experience that slowly and surely steps forward in the mix. The interplay between the performers suggests the live work of Main, all glitch, static, patterns and brutal conclusions to parts, but as noted, it’s all done so subtly that they weave into whatever ambient background noise might be around where you are listening to the album. It’s an interesting experience, though perhaps an unnerving one if all around is otherwise absolute silence. The general arc of the performance — from silence to a busier but still restrained midsection into the final, more ghostly minutes — is understandable given the presumably improvised nature of the performance, and feels overall like an organic piece. (Ned Raggett, All Music Guide)

Super-groupe néo-zélandais. Si on ne trouvera rien de révolutionnaire ici, on assiste néanmoins à une réunion de haute tenue. Into Tone n’offre rien de plus que la somme de ses parties, rien de moins non plus.

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