Send me your track


Lawrence English - Kiri No Oto


Like many in the murky and somewhat aloof arena of field recordings and ambient noise, Lawrence English prefers to use organic, natural metaphors such as landscapes to provide a mental backdrop to his work. A native of Queensland where the land and sea merge into a distant horizon, he has forged a career in experimental electronics, sound installation and presides over Room 40, an Australian experimental label with a burgeoning reputation.

“Kiri No Oto” which apparently translates from Japanese as “The Sound of Fog” takes its inspiration from several journeys English made through Poland and New Zealand, and also from a short film in 1971 by Hagiwara Sakumi called “Kiri” (Fog).  At 8 tracks spread across 43 minutes it’s a disconcerting journey of sharp rushes of dissonance intersected by calm. Like Fog itself, the sound often dissipates quickly, and then forms again, low organ noises swirling continuously in the mix. The space in which harmony appears, seeping out like ether from time to time, allows the listener to get sucked into a rumbling ambience, but with very little in the way of melodic nodes to grasp at. In a way I’m reminded of Tim Hecker’s better works but without the strong compositional aspect - this is much more primeval, mirroring the random and chaotic aspect of the subject that English has chosen to take inspiration from. That’s not to do him a disservice, because the melodies that appear never truly take form until later on, eddying around the ethereal organ hum that permeates the entire album. There’s a grainy edge to this recording that is accentuated by the odd crackle of distortion or hiss that gives it a sense of age - as if it was recorded 40 or 50 years ago..

Although it’s an album that hasn’t really got a strong song-based narrative feel to it, the two tracks that really stand out are “Allay” and “Figure’s Lone Static”, sequenced together near the end. The former reminds me of Mika Vainio in its icy temperament, but is much less refined, taking on a more organic feel, whilst the latter rumbles menacingly towards a slow climax.The shift in focus of much of the sound on this album is to English’s credit - he makes sure through imperceptible tweaks and changes that what sounds you started to focus on as each track begins is not often what you finish with at the end, and this sense of disorientation is central to the album aesthetic. 

Toby Frith

Touch Music

Room 40

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Records of the Week - September 16th | Main | Xenakis - Pléïades »