3 Reviews | By textura
Michael Lightborne | Ring Road Ring
All three of these recent Gruenrekorder releases are quintessential label products: adventurous, thought-provoking, and unusual. Michael Lightborne’s and Enrico Coniglio’s are grounded in field recordings, Coventry Ring Road and the Venetian Lagoon the sites used for their respective projects; an entirely different animal, un|sounding the self — a portrait combines an hour-long video and booklet for its in-depth portrait of American artists Christopher Shultis and Craig Shepard.


Issued in vinyl and digital formats, Lightborne’s thirty-three-minute Ring Road Ring is strongly rooted in a geographical location, with its seven tracks using low-level vibrations pulsing through Coventry Ring Road as a springboard (to capture the sounds, he attached contact microphones to concrete pylons supporting the road). Built in Coventry, England between 1960 and ’74, the road formed part of the city’s rebuilding plan after WWII and was intended to keep growing levels of traffic away from the city core as well as promote the idea of a pedestrian-focused setting. Today, however, the project is regarded as something of a failure as it’s alienated pedestrians and had a detrimental effect on the city centre; as a result, plans are afoot to disassemble and repurpose the structure (one rumour has it that the road may be closed to traffic and converted into a city park). []


Enrico Coniglio | TEREDO NAVALIS
While work by Coniglio has appeared on many a label (Touch, Infraction, and Dronarivm three of many), Teredo Navalis is the first time the Italy-based guitarist, field recordist, and sound explorer has appeared on Gruenrekorder. The thirty-eight-minute CD finds him firmly in soundscaping mode, its five tracks constituting the next chapter in his ongoing study of the Venetian Lagoon (the title, incidentally, refers to a marine organism also described as a bivalve mollusc or naval shipworm that commonly dwells in the wood of ships). Using electromagnetic sensors, hydrophones, and contact, condenser, and binaural microphones, Coniglio gathered sounds during the night at the north side of the lagoon, a site home to crabbers, gulls, and native terns but also boats used for public transportation. One of his goals with the project was to document in sound the fragile balance between the setting in its natural state and the impact human intervention has had upon it. While untreated aquatic sounds form the basis for the work, the compositional process involved an intense layering of micro-elements. []


Various Artists | Next City Sounds: Interfaces
Both components of un|sounding the self — a portrait are required for a proper appreciation of this ambitious creation. Reading the booklet, a 116-page ‘Field Manual‘ featuring texts by the artists, the director Christoph Collenberg, and the collection’s editor Bernd Herzogenrath, without the film makes for an incomplete experience; watching the hour-long DVD without the clarifying details provided by the booklet is just as incomplete. (In Collenberg’s words, un|sounding the self — a portrait is an “experimental, audiovisual double portrait that borrows from a documentary approach.”) However different Christopher Shultis, percussionist and Professor Emeritus of the University of New Mexico, and Craig Shepard, trombonist and Wandelweiser collective member, are in their artistic expression, their interests converge in two key areas: their lives, philosophies, and creative approach have been profoundly influenced by Henry David Thoreau, specifically his thoughts about walking and natural sound, and the art and writings of John Cage. []