INNER_SPACES AUTUMN 2022
The London label Touch is particularly dear to INNER_SPACES because a dozen artists from their catalog performed in San Fedele Auditorium: C. Fennesz, Jana Winderen, BJ Nilsen, Philip Jeck, Lawrence English, Oren Ambarchi, Ozmotic, Simon Scott, Thomas Köner, Ipek Gorgun.
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.