INNER_SPACES AUTUMN 2022
The last concert of INNER_SPACES Autumn 2022 is in close collaboration with the Touch label, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The prestigious London label has in its catalog artists such as Hildur Guðnadóttir, Christian Fennesz, Mika Vainio, Biosphere, Chris Watson. But the particular link between Touch and INNER_SPACES should also be mentioned: as many as ten Touch artists performed in the San Fedele auditorium in previous editions: C. Fennesz, Jana Winderen, BJ Nilsen, Philip Jeck, Lawrence English, Oren Ambarchi, Ozmotic, Simon Scott, Thomas Köner, Ipek Gorgun.
From 8pm to 11.30pm, in a nocturnal musical itinerary, five musicians and groups from different geographical areas and belonging to three musical currents will follow one another on stage: ambient with variable facets, minimalism with a spiritual background and field recording.
Geneva Skeen, from the United States, begins, the latest addition to the Touch family. His music is built on long bands of sound that evolve slowly with sound materials that intertwine field recordings (natural phenomena, different acoustic spaces, sound recordings in environments of current life) with electro-acoustic compositions and vocals. The artist prefers an experimental approach, sometimes without concessions, also understood as an act of denunciation of the negative effects on social life of late capitalism.
The Polish Jacaszek is placed on another stylistic level. He operates a fusion of ambient, classical music and musique concrète, using field recordings, acoustic samples, poetic and religious texts, as well as the expressive models of Baroque art to depict often melancholic, nostalgic, tragic situations. Michał Jacaszek developed unconventional sampling methods, using archaic recordings and sounds produced by found toys, instruments and the remains of mechanisms, calling this technique “musicotronics”. In the last album released by Touch, Gardenia, in 2020, the musician explored a new expressive field, starting from his stay in a South African nature reserve. Dozens of hours of recordings of bird songs, frog calls, insect cries, sounds of nature were subsequently digitally reworked into a suite of nine songs. In the presentation note of the disc, the author specifies: “I don’t intend to document the sound world of South Africa or create something conceptual. Everything I do in my work is an affirmation of hidden beauty in various aspects of creation”.
Riccardo Giovinetto and Simone Bosco founded the OZMOTIC Duo of electronic and instrumental music in 2011, inspired by contemporary sounds from classical and ambient music; soundscapes and concrete sounds mix with glitch music, IDM and noise. Deeply fascinated by the dynamics of contemporary society, architecture, cities and vast uncontaminated spaces, OZMOTIC creates sounds characterized by an intense tonal variety and a refined rhythmic research. The interaction between electronic music and digital visual art in real time is an essential trait of the project’s aesthetics; the link between the sound material and the visual-spatial dimension that emerges allows the creation of both spectacular and experimental forms of expression.
The night of Touch concludes with Claire M Singer, composer and interpreter of acoustic and electronic music, soundtracks and creator of installations. His artistic experience is part of the minimalism of a harmonic-spectral matrix, with great attention to the dimension of the expansion of the resonant bands starting from the fundamental sounds of acoustic instruments such as the organ and the cello. His work draws inspiration from the contrasting natural landscapes of his native Scotland, exploring rich harmonic textures with complex overtones that create ever-shifting melodic and rhythmic patterns in a dramatic perspective that makes what has just sonic surface disappear in a short time.
Touch has always meant the cult of sound and the varied research around it. Thirty-five years of uncompromising passion have made the London label one of the most solid pillars in the experimental field, as well as a second home for world-renowned sound artists today. “Multimedia project” is, in fact, a much more appropriate terminology for grasping its identity, which over time has also included artistic residencies, workshops and live events.
The lines of continuity from 1982 until today are as evident as they are difficult to summarize: the first consists of the ever new approach to sound matter, pertaining to a broader idea of composition which, among others, includes drone music, field recording and more hybrid electroacoustic contamination; a second coincides with the artistic path of the singular designer Jon Wozencroft, co-founder of the label, who has “coated” each publication with pregnant and evocative visual creations.
Compiled over the course of three years, “Touch Movements” is the first anthology in the form of an art book with the aim of outlining and summarizing the extraordinary creative forces that have flowed into the project over the decades, from the most established artists to recent emerging revelations.
A doubly ambitious goal, if we consider that the CD collection consists of 34 tracks which – excluding short vocal fragments from the archive – have an average duration of about three minutes each: it is a challenge for true masters to condense one’s vision over time of a radio single, especially if the reference styles are intrinsically anti-narrative, sometimes referable only to themselves.
One can therefore act by direct subtraction, like CM von Hausswolff (“Sine Missing One”, a static and inexpressive short wave) or the splinter of the special guests Wire, who throw a piercing and questioning distortion; Chris Watson stages a sort of cinematic trailer (“Deepcar”, divided between live sound and cool ambient-techno rhythm), while the young Bethan Kellough opens with immense grace a very short glimmer of light between delicate bells.
The many facets of electronic manipulation – from Mika Vainio * to Peter Rehberg and Mark Van Hoen – are also flanked by the neoclassical taste of Hildur Guðnadóttir, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Claire M Singer, as well as the fully conformed aesthetics of luminaries such as Jim O’Rourke, Philip Jeck (a sudden plunge into his hallucinated “hauntology”) and Christian Fennesz (his personal dissection of “Paint It Black” by the Stones, remastered after nearly twenty years). The use of stereophony in Oren Ambarchi’s contribution is truly original. By splitting a field recording of steps directed towards a door, it leads to a sound room in which a rocking “diegetic” riff and the thickness of his effected guitar make their way.
In the intentions as well as in the result, therefore, an “audio book” is created which in the apparent mutual incommunicability of its parts establishes its own discursive thread, a global and discreetly emotional vision on a landscape whose contours are still elusive and constantly expansion. Even if the physical object will be a collector’s item for a few (edition in a thousand copies), the audio document will remain a reasoned and concluded guide to the founding sounds of the priceless Touch roster.