srijeda, 8. svibnja 2013.

Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers - Boring Embroidery (2013)

Istraživanje granica klavirskog zvuka i mogućnosti slušanja, plus zvukovni život (feedback i aleatornost) same tehnologije za reprodukciju zvuka.

Cath015 features five beautiful, fragile yet raw improvisations for pianos and electronics performed by two of the UK’s brightest talents. Picking up from where 2010′s Turned moment, weighting release on Another Timbre left off, Boring Embroidery inhabits a slow, precise musical world that references Feldman and Tudor, yet remains resolutely improvised. Recorded in 2010 and 2011, this album possibly marks the end of the duo’s piano collaborations but if so, it provides a perfectly matured, stunningly beautiful document of their work.

An outtake from the Boring Embroidery sessions that does not appear on the album can be sampled below.

“Boring Embroidery” is the third and likely final instalment in a series of duo improvisations for piano and electronics from Consumer Waste curators Stephen Cornford and Samuel Rodgers. The five pieces collected here are all quite sparse and economical, with each sound given time and space to imprint itself on the listener. However, the album is far from a procession of discrete unrelated noises, demonstrating a deep consideration of harmonic and rhythmic structure. It seems as though dissonance is used as another way of isolating individual sounds from one another, giving them room to breathe, and the effect is rarely abrasive; rather, a quiet tension pervades each of the tracks, soliciting an intense and attentive form of listening. Boredom is quite the opposite of “Boring Embroidery”’s effect.
One could think about this music in expressly political terms, its call to slow and patient attention an act of resistance in a culture that privileges immediacy and sensory overload. Or it could be considered an exercise in an alternative mode of listening that bears its own relation to time and space, breaking the myth which assumes that there is only one way in which the brain can process auditory phenomena. At any rate, it seems clear that listening to “Boring Embroidery” demands a certain kind of work, a cognitive effort that involves stitching together a set of relations between fragmented parts to form the contingent impression of a design. Okay, enough of the bad sewing metaphors. But one could argue that it is precisely in the exercise of this effort that the pleasure of “Boring Embroidery” resides, rather than in some form of emotional expression or somatic affect. I enjoy this work of tentatively joining the dots, sussing out implied harmonies and rhythmic phrases, building a picture or an idea that is each time different, yet nonetheless always somehow rooted in what I hear.
I’ll share one such picture with you: there is some fantastic piano playing on this record, playing that speaks a language drawn from the distinguished history of the piano in avant-garde music, yet remains fully engaged and immersed in the situation that it is in now, conversing with various finely-controlled squawks and swells of feedback and other electronic noises. Perhaps Cornford and Rodgers would be uncomfortable with the description of “Boring Embroidery” as a ‘piano record’, preferring rather to think of the sounds generated by this instrument as simply sounds, without all the attendant semantic and historical baggage; perhaps this baggage is only the product of the piano’s convenient ubiquity in twentieth-century Western music. But this is only one way of joining the dots. So while on the one hand it could be considered a shame that the artists have decided to leave this particular format behind — Cornford in particular seems to have moved on to more sculptural outcomes as far as his own practice is concerned — the music left behind on record continues to generate new ideas; the possible configurations of its elements, which extend far beyond the purely audible, remain far from exhausted, a lasting advantage of this format called the audio recording. With such rich material to play with, who could ever get bored?
- Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio

 Turned Moment, weighting 

“Sound artist Stephen Cornford stumbled across pianist Samuel Rodgers photocopying pages of Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories (a good omen) when both were students at Dartington College of Arts, and Turned Moment, weighting features Cornford's realtime feedback treatments of Rodgers's touchy-feely, incisive playing on piano and miscellaneous objects.
Impressively, this taut 45 minute disc was culled – as detailed on an interview on the Another Timbre website – from a weekend-long recording session of their improvisations.  Some of that material has, apparently, been filtered off for another project; what remains here, however, spotlights an intriguing tension between the seamless, relentless hum of the electronics, which transcends time, and the unstable rattling and evolving mantras of the piano Rodgers still occupying countable time.  There's a bewitchingly beautiful moment during the second track as all the sounds coalesce, then hover, around an open octave – a gesture not normally part of the improvised music lexicon – which then broadens its harmonic reach to inhabit some unexpectedly conventional triad relationships which the overlaid feedback peels apart, as though sound has been illuminated with an x-ray.”
                                                                                                         - Philip Clark, The Wire

“A recent entry in Another Timbre's "byways" series, intended less as finished releases and more as snapshot documents of a scene. Cornford (piano feedback) and Rodgers (piano & objects) are both new names to me and based on this, I hope to hear more soon. Very calm, soft underlying drones, presumably generated via feedback, accompanied by plectral sounds from within the piano, vibrating devices against strings, etc.  I could see some listeners finding the first two pieces overly drone-y/chime-y, though I enjoyed them throughout. The last track, however ("turning"), edges into darker environs, the drones arcing toward scrapes, the chimes hardening into more foreboding thuds. It's a very strong and complete piece, well worth hearing. Looking forward to more.”                                                             - Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

“A very brief note to encourage listeners to hear the duo recording of Stephen Cornford and Samuel Rodgers released several months ago on the Another Timbre imprint, Turned Moment, weighting.
The title may read as obtuse, but the sound world explored on this release is anything but. The duo generate a floating field of pin-prick, crystalline feedback, piano strings prepared in media res [the recording is taken from several hours of their improvising, edited by Cornford] and, here and there, struck piano keys. I have vowed to myself to write about this area of music without using the by now codified adjective Feldmanesque; I may now have to take up that vow after this write up.
The sound sources are two pianos and a feedback system Cornford designed that allows unstable, aleatory and sometimes noisy sounds to infiltrate the sober piano tones. Suspended pitches hang in the air with small, barely-controlled feedback squalls. Overall, with Cornford's post-production work, the three sections never spin out of orbit, the center holds.
Anyone who liked the territory explored in the Tilbury/Schmickler release Variety, or Paiuk/Kahn's beautiful Breathings will want to check this out. As in those two antecedents, there is an interface of piano and lacings of nuanced electronics. Cornford has very consciously chosen the instrument arguably most history-burdened and exhaustively plumbed for radical musicans, determined to find something new to say nonetheless. The results of this duo's intimate meeting merits close, repeated listens. “                    
- Jesse Goin, Crow with no Mouth

“ Once again, Another Timbre's Byways imprint lives up to its reputation for delivering stimulating and exciting cutting-edge explorations. This 45-minute CD-R pairs the piano feedback of sound sculptor Stephen Cornford with the slightly more conventional piano experiments of Samuel Rodgers. The two met and collaborated when they were both students at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England. This music was recorded there is April 2009.
Unlike on The Middle Distance, above, there is no separation of the two between left and right channels. That would have served no useful purpose, as the two players sound distinct enough to easily tell who is doing what. Their playing coalesces into a unified whole, with ebb and flow between piano, feedback and objects. If "cutting-edge explorations" makes the music here sound daunting or dry, be reassured that it is neither. On the contrary, it is engaging, enthralling, entertaining and enjoyable.  Apparently, this release contains only a fraction of the music that Cornford and Rogers recorded over a productive weekend. It must be hoped that more of that sees the light of day.”       -   John Eyles, All About Jazz

“Cornford is a sound and installation artist (his work also includes trespassing on the London site of the 2012 Olympics) and here he’s working with feedback, micing a piano that Rodgers plays in an extremely minimalist way. Like the work of Sebastian Lexer, it’s meditative in the extreme, clearly touching on the music of Morton Feldman, and while it possesses little of Lexer’s technical sophistication, it’s nonetheless beautiful work, slowly unfolding music that maintains an extraordinary concentration, taking on the quality of a Japanese temple gong (a fundamental legacy of Cage’s interests in prepared piano, Zen Buddhism and I Ching: take the definitive Western instrument and make it as Eastern as possible). There’s an intense sense of the spatial here, as if Cornford is using the piano and its electronic feedback to measure the room, its psychological parameters as well as its physical dimensions. “                                                                                   -  Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure
  [Stuart Broomer reviewed the entire piano series, and you can read the full review here]

“Cornford and Rodgers extend the Cagian challenge of the piano’s nature on Turned Moment, weighting. Cornford comes from a sculpting background, and here he works with piano feedback. To him the piano is a big shaped thing with movable parts, like a kinetic sculpture; sound is also something to be shaped. Rodgers, who is credited with piano and objects, is also drawn to the malleability of sound. His clanking, chiming attacks on the strings make impressions on the ribbons of feedback, like a piano roll puncher that can’t quite get through the paper. A listener unfamiliar with the notion of prepared piano might never know that the instrument was involved.”         -   Bill Meyer, Signal to Noise
You can read the full text of Bill meyer’s review of the entire piano series here

When did the evolution of music begin to outstrip the usefulness of the piano?  Was it when Theolonius Monk, Andrew Hill and Cecil Taylor began to play so much piano that cherished ideals of 'good' pianism buckled under their physical resonance and emotional muscle?  Or when John Cage wrenched screws, bolts and nails in between piano strings and, in an instant, two centuries of pianistic tradition went puff and, from the smoke, emerged a percussion orchestra?  Or when Beethoven's 1818 Hammerklavier sonata issued so many revolutionary technical challenges that, after centuries of composers cowering in the front of the instrument, someone finally made it dance to a different tune?
Or perhaps – in the parallel world documented on these four discs, released as a series aiming to “explore and expand the piano” - we haven't reached that saturation point yet.  But the truth is, however objective your perspective, the piano is to creative, progressive music making what the Commodore Vic-20 is to the iPhone: woefully outmoded hardware.  From a list that could include all, or even one, of these à la mode preoccupations:  microtonality (a no go), the timbral cleanliness of electronics (the piano is hit like a percussion instrument – clean it ain't), fingertip forensic exploration of the inner fabric of sound in the image of John Butcher, Oren Marshall and Peter Evans (the piano doesn't let musicians fall inside sound in the same way), the piano is, at best, a blunt tool for their execution.
Which paradoxically can prove a fertile starting point for something new to happen in sound if, as the musicians involved here do, you mould those limitations into a dialectic between the piano's evolutionary history and now.  Sound artist Stephen Cornford stumbled across pianist Samuel Rodgers photocopying pages of Morton Feldman'sTriadic Memories (a good omen) when both were students at Dartington College of Arts, and Turned Moment, weighting features Cornford's realtime feedback treatments of Rodgers's touchy-feely, incisive playing on piano and miscellaneous objects.
Impressively, this taut 45 minute disc was culled – as detailed on an interview on the Another Timbre website – from a weekend-long recording session of their improvisations.  Some of that material has, apparently, been filtered off for another project; what remains here, however, spotlights an intriguing tension between the seamless, relentless hum of the electronics, which transcends time, and the unstable rattling and evolving mantras of the piano Rodgers still occupying countable time.  There's a bewitchingly beautiful moment during the second track as all the sounds coalesce, then hover, around an open octave – a gesture not normally part of the improvised music lexicon – which then broadens its harmonic reach to inhabit some unexpectedly conventional triad relationships which the overlaid feedback peels apart, as though sound has been illuminated with an x-ray. - Philip Clark

Stephen Cornford – Pinched Tapes #1

A very limited edition tape of 6 that was self-released especially for ArtEx Sonora back in 2009.
“The music on the tape was pinched from two found cassettes: a copy of John Cage’s String Quartets and a story tape of Jack and the Beanstalk. The tapes were hand-looped and played back on three cassette players simultaneously to produce this recording. No effort was made to normalise, equalise or otherwise clean up this digital recording before copying it back to tape.”
Stephen Cornford:

Five Introverted Machines2012

A small piece for five identical first generation cassette players. The tape head of each machine is detached and extended allowing each machine to probe its own electromagnetic emissions, in an uncanny display of self-awareness.

Recorded (on) Delivery2012

A collaboration with Ben Gwilliam.
In this new work the post is used not to send recorded sounds but the objects to be used in their production. In the time leading up to the exhibition, each artist completely dismantled a tape machine of their own, right down to the components, wires and even collections of dust. Once the parts were listed they were methodically posted to the other collaborator in the two months preceding the show. Upon receiving a package of listed parts chosen specifically by the sender, the receiver then performs a single sound-producing action with each item in any way that they feel adequate. These actions were recorded to 1/4” tape.

Binatone Galaxy2011 

An installation for used cassette players which looks on their obsolescence not as an ending, but as an opportunity to reconsider their functional potential. Superseded as playback devices, they become instruments in their own right. Replacing the prerecorded content of each tape with a microphone gives us the chance to listen instead to the rhythmic and resonant properties of these once ubiquitous plastic shells. Binatone Galaxy brings the framework within which a generation purchased their favourite records to the centre of attention, revealing the acoustics of the cassette and the voices of the machines themselves. 
"On the walls of a white room, brightly illuminated with natural light, Stephen Cornford, and artist who describes his work as existing "at the intersection of sculpture and music", has mounted some 30 old cassette recorders. Models from Boots, Sanyo, Robotic, one lone and gorgeously named Binatone Galaxy: they all hang on the walls, wired up, tapes loaded and ready for action. Smitten by an attack of technological melancholia, the visitor can wonder who owned these things, what pop charts did these machines once record? Were they ever placed next to pillows, late at night for surreptitious listening pleasures? What happened to the voices that once rubbed the magnetic heads of these little machines?
For some artists, the speed (and resulting impact) of obsolescence on the technology we once took for granted has spawned a form of fetishism, in which the voices - the human agency - they once recorded exist in an alternate, ghostly dimension, a reminder of what once was. This is not Cornford's theme. The fact that each audio cassette in his machines is fitted with a motion sensor and a contact mic, so that, on entry the machines whirr into action, indicates that Binatone Galaxy is very much of the here and now. Yes, Cornford has chosen old, cheap and accessible technology with which to realise this, but I suspect that he is aiming for a furrruuuzzy audio intimacy.
The sensitivity of the mics is such that Cornford achieves this well. Each audio cassette becomes not simply a means of playback, but its own indeterminate instrument. It works as long as there is movement to activate it - and like Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In A Room, a soundwork which places sonic decay at its heart, each little soundworld within Binatone Galaxy ripples out to form continually newer and fainter ones. It doesn't take long for the noises generated by the playback operations to suggest their own fantasised sounds: the clopping of horses' hooves on the cobblestones outside is one (Campbell Works is situated in a former Stoke Newington brewery); a pulsating brassy sound is another. The effects are surprisingly rich in timbre and intensity. The visitor becomes an unwitting conductor, as sensors will switch off unless continually activated, so tempi and volume change constantly. Combined, there is a continual kinetic activity and rhythm to the piece.
There is a practice of deliberate, anarchic displacement, an effort to place things where they shouldn't be, that is central to Cornford's work. It's in Trespassing the Olympic Site, a series of actions in which he tried (with varying success) to penetrate Fortress Olympics in East London, as much as in Battery Acid, scored for car battery, wires and mic cables. The results are not only playful, but a necessary retaliation to all forms of authority, audio or otherwise."
Louise Gray (The Wire)

Air Guitar

A single wheelchair motor slowly revolves both guitar and amplifier, creating a droning aeolian loop. The motion that produces the sound is one and the same motion which disperses it around the room. The guitar is simply placed within a kinetic system and allowed to resonate. The combination of doppler and leslie effects achieved by the movement of the speaker and the room's acoustics cause subtle shifts within the eternal chord.

This work is part of the collection of Tomasz Wendland, curator of Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland.

“Essentially a live rock concert in the guise of a kinetic sculptural installation; except that there's just one guitar, one chord and it doesn't seem to stop. This chord, produced by a spinning guitar, is played above our heads from a revolving amp, the sound continually changing in both its timbre and its microtonal structure through the Doppler effect and the reverberations off the walls of the gallery. There is nothing hidden yet something magical seems to be occurring as there is nothing visible making the guitar play. There is also nothing but air between our heads and a very heavy amplifier spinning above. Sound is clearly a physical experience.”
Rob Gawthrop
"Spatially, rhythmically and sonically mesmerising, Air Guitar encourages an immersive slowing down. As a meditative machine with neither beginning nor end - all is 'in the middle' - it repays those who linger. It sharpens perception and amplifies imaginative connectivity, triggering a density and complexity of associations far greater than the sum of its parts. The libidinous energy of the guitar, its arc tracing a blurred memory of the whirl of Pete Townsend's arm. Then the patience and pathos of the wheelchair motor, doing something, working steadily but going nowhere. A frayed belt drives the shaft at the axis of a T-shaped metal & wood structure that's somehow reminiscent of an outback water pump, or of a Sufi whirling dervish, spinning palms raised. Finally, the slightly daunting momentum of the counter-balanced speaker & battery through the air; the centrifugal sonic space generated is curtailed and bounced back by the gallery walls.
This is a work of ambiguous and resonant couplings: of the home-made and the sophisticated; dynamic movement and stasis; closed circuit and opened sonic space; gravitied weight and the illusion of circling flight; the material and the immaterial, in particular absent bodies and their ghostly presences - the guitar's (and the wheelchair's) intimate congruence with the human body"
David Williams

In Search of a Concrete Music2010

A Grundig TK18 reel to reel tape recorder was dismantled down to its individual component parts. Each piece was then laid on the bed of a scanner produding a real exploded diagram of the contents of the machine. The title is the common English translation of electronic music pioneer Pierre Schaeffer's essay A la Recherche d'une Musique Concréte, perhaps this is a more concrete means of searching for that music.

For Violin, Viola and Tape

A loop of quater-inch tape is threaded over the strings of a violin and viola, driven by a reel-to-reel machine which records onto one side what its plastic backing is playing a few feet away.

Taking its lead from the 60s experimental strategy of musicans playing alongisde a live recorded loop of themselves. Here the musician is absent, the tape loop left to simultaneously play and record the instruments alone.

Human Separation2006-2009 

A performative collaboration with Matthew Appleby
The stock instrumentation of a rock band are played by an elaborate array of adapted domestic machines. Desk fans, fire bells, boiler fans, wiper motors, a sewing machine and a massage bed all strum, pummel, riff and rimshot.

Gig History 
InCounter . London UK . Aug 2009
Clusterfuck . London UK . Jul 2009

A.T.A.M. . Coventry UK . Sep 2008
LAF 08 . Falmouth UK . Jun 2008
Diskurs07 . Giessen DE . Oct 2007
Elevator . London UK. Oct 2007
Collision . London UK . Sept 2007
Arnolfini . Bristol UK . Mar 2007
151206 . Poznan PL . Dec 2006

Trespassing the Olympic Site2006-2008
Trespassing the Olympic Site was a performative project carried out between 2006 and 2008 initiated in response to the compulsory purchase of the 500 acres that now make up the Olympic Park. I appointed myself Artist in Residence two months before access to the area was restricted by the locally infamous blue fence; my intention was simply to regularly perform the action of trespass across its length and breadth. The project questioned the reality of public ownership in a privatised world by regularly attempting to traverse this patrolled enclosure alone and on foot, treating literally the notion of it as London’s newest public park.

Performances, which took place at night, unannounced, on a monthly basis throughout the two year period, were conceived not as actions to be watched but tasks to be carried out; the aim being to remain hidden from my potential audience of security guards, demolition workers and dog patrols. I documented the work in a series of staged digital stills, using the camera’s built in shutter delay and exposures of up to a minute. Initially these images were simply a means of recording my presence, but as the project wore on they became spaces to pit myself against the increasingly dehumanised landscape, chances to comment, albeit silently, on the transformations that took place between my visits.

An excerpt from the project's blog was published in June 2012 in The Art of Dissent: Adventures in London's Olympic State.

Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers
Boring Embroidery
cathnor CD [cath015]
The third and likely final disc of duo improvisations for piano and electronics
by Samuel and myself.

John Cage
Cartridge Music
another timbre CD [at57]
Live realisation by Ferran Fages, Patrick Farmer, Lee Patterson, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Daniel Jones, Rob Curgenven and myself. Recorded at Audiograft 2012.
Various Artists

Wandelweiser und so weiter
another timbre 6CD Box Set [at56]
Six discs of realistions of Wandelweiser compositions by musicians primarily known as improvisers, including works by Beuger, Werder, Pisaro, Sfirri, Thut, Brogan, Frey, Susam, Houben and more
Stephen Cornford | Jason Kahn | Patrick Farmer
pilgrim talk cassette [PT21] (edition of 50) SOLD OUT
Recorded live in my studio in February 2012
available to download from bandcamp
Stephen Cornford
Binatone Galaxy
senufo editions CD [#24]
A collection of recordings made using components of the installation.
Stephen Cornford | Patrick Farmer | Sarah Hughes | Kostis Kilymis
No Islands
another timbre CD [at46]

Two improvisations and a realisation of JohnCage's Four6.
Stephen Cornford
Battery Acid
banned production
MC [edition of 50]
Two process pieces for a used car battery and bare microphone cable.
Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers
Zinc [extracts]
consumer waste [conwas01]
3" CDr [edition of 100]
A three-track disc of duo improvisations for piano and piano feedback recorded on the same day as the recordings released by another timbre on Turned Moment, weighting.
Stephen Cornford
gifts nobody wants [gnw 13]
C36 [edition of 100]
A pair of pieces made using the SSCD_6.2 cassette delay, microphones and hollow objects.
Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers
Turned Moment, weighting
another timbre [atb-07]
CDr [edition of 250]
A three-track disc of duo improvisations for piano and piano feedback recorded in Devon, UK, April 2009.
Stephen Cornford
Two Works for Turntables
Permanent Gallery
edition of 250 7" records, produced to accompany the Works for Turntable exhibition.
Stephen Cornford
Pinched Tapes #1
edition of 6 C20 cassettes produced especially for ArtEx Sonora 2009. SOLD OUT
Anarchymoon Recordings (out of print)
2CD compilation featuring William C Harrington, Christopher Fleeger, Chronicles of Lemur Mutation, Phroq, David Kwan, No John, Dj Felldown, Jeff Gburek, Infiltration Lab, Oubliette, David Kendall, Loopool, Sheamgauer, Gen 26, idx1274, Dave Phillip, Ecomorti, Burial Hex, Nova-sak and Redglaer.

Samuel Rodgers: 
Jack Harris & Samuel Rodgers
What's that for, mate?
Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers
Zinc [extracts]
Stephen Cornford & Samuel Rodgers
Turned Moment, weighting

 | | | | | | | | Downloads | | | | | | | | |

Cosmo Gardner + Jack Harris + Samuel Rodgers
We've had enough of this powdered wig algebra

Various Artists
ihm compilation 5

Jack Harris & Samuel Rodgers
School of Noises #1

Jack Harris & Samuel Rodgers
March 6th 2011
Various Artists
One Object
Samuel Rodgers
Compositions 2008/09

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