Tom Wallace: Field and voice recordings
Graham Dunning: Live Set at Corsica Studios, London (recorded by Daniel Kordik)
Mastered by Edward Lucas & Daniel Kordik
Cover image by Jim Ferris; Design by Earshots/DEPT2
On the A side, Tom Wallace presents six forest recordings taken in South East Asia sampling a number of acoustic landscapes at different times of the day, from dawn until dusk, and into the night. On the B side, Graham Dunning performs a DJ set using dubplates that he has produced with field recordings of the local urban environment and its people; this set was recorded live on four microphones at Corsica Studios, London, in March 2016
released June 4, 2016
THE WIRE (Issue 389)
On Dawn Into Dusk it is the figure of the DJ itself that comes under scrutiny, here reduced to a sort of pantomime. Across a single 30 minute track, the means and gestures of the nightclub spinner are stripped of their functionality and turned to more abstract purpose by the use of dubplates bearing ambient field recordings as material, treated only with the EQ twitches and cross-fades commonly applied to house and techno.
Dunning’s half of this cassette (split with soundscape artist Tom Wallace) is also a live performance, recorded before the empty dancefloor at London’s Corsica Studios during the daytime. The work then becomes a layering of different silences, embedded each in the other: the deserted urban spaces of Luton and Manchester recorded on the discs themselves, the empty club under South London railway arches with the occasional rumble of trains overhead, the crackle of vinyl, the hiss of tape. Each step leaves its sonic trace on the final track, producing a dense fog of emptiness.
THE QUIETUS (Tristan Bath)
Out on a relatively new London-based label focusing on field recordings and improvised music, Dawn Into Dusk dedicates a side apiece to sound artists Tom Wallace and Graham Dunning. Mr Dunning has become a staple of the UK experimental music scene of late, above of all for his mechanical techno set-up for turntables and contact mics, a video of which went somewhat viral online. However, the man remains as active as ever utilising his gear in the name of beatless abstraction and weirder experimental sound art, and the monolithic half hour piece here - ‘Field Recordings On Dubplates At Corsica Studios’ - is easily one of his more engaging works made using field recordings. Recorded before an empty dancefloor in the titular London club beneath two railway arches in Elephant & Castle, Dunning uses recordings on dubplates to craft a slow moving collage that blends sounds from countless other places into the low level hum of lights and urban drone of Corsica Studios. A whole host of unwanted noises creep their way in - tape hiss, vinyl crackle, trains passing overhead, the moaning of children, even some toolkit buzzing - but Dunning keeps everything thoroughly engaging. At points some near-rhythms emerge from looped noises - but vitally the entire thing comes across as a strangely moving experience as sound ghosts criss-cross before Dunning on the vacant dancefloor.
Tom Wallace’s flipside is an utterly brilliant counterpoint, comprising six field recordings made during travels through the South East Asian countryside, each with a spoken word introduction by the artist explaining where he was and what he was doing. The source sounds come from places untouched by human hands, and Wallace gently overlays several recordings from the same location each time to thicken the pieces. Cresting swarms of cicadas, birdsong, and running water coalesce, and several strange animal noises actually resemble synthetic tones at various points. Surprisingly the similarities between Dunning’s rumbling urban ceremony and Wallace’s rainforest reportage far outweigh the differences.
GUIDE MY LITTLE TAPE
At the beginning of this split tape we find Graham Dunning starting off with a recording of the cacophony of a large group of people possibly at a market or some type of gathering. There is a joy in the surroundings as children laugh (and cry) and people talk loudly to get over the sound of everyone one else, yet in all the commotion, I can’t seem to make out a single word. I assume they are in the UK or Europe as Dunning hails from London but I wasn’t able to pin it down - maybe further listening will give me a clue. I realized that there was a nostalgia to the recording and even though I fancy myself a bit of a recluse these days, the sounds of the people didn’t bother me. I was intrigued by them and then upon hearing the crackle of a vinyl record, I realized that this sound made it all feel like it was from a different time and that in itself made it special - a recording of yesteryears when things were different, maybe from a better time… But no, all of Dunning’s recordings are sure to be current and the crackle was the result of them being transferred to dubplates. I feel I have been deceived, but I’m ok with it.
There is an adventurous feeling to Dunning’s side here as the sounds transition from the congregation to other surroundings, other sounds: Traffic. Footsteps. Rain. At times there seems to be nothing but the crackle of the dubplate which keeps it’s own time, exists in it’s own space separate from anything else but wholly necessary. Things get a bit more abstract towards the end as the presence of the dubplate itself is more pronounced and undeterminable sounds become present. Clicking, buzzing, crunching, droning, crackling and tinkering until Side A comes to a stop.
Upon further reading of the liner notes, there is surprisingly a bit more to the work here than I previously suspected. These field recording were “performed” by Dunning in true absurd Dada fashion to an empty London nightclub, the famed Corsica Studios, as though he were the evening’s featured DJ. Because the club sits inside two railway arches and due to the nature of the presentation, as a listener you are subjected to the trifecta of: 1. the initial recordings, 2. the sounds of the dub plates, and 3. the ambience of the venue. There's also the added bonus that it's all been transferred to cassette so you naturally have the hiss from the medium that provides another layer of sound. It's obviously a well thought out and executed presentation.
Side B, featuring the work of Tom Wallace is a bit more straight forward in terms of relaying what’s happening but it’s equally intriguing and easily just as enjoyable to listen to. During his travels to South East Asia, Wallace made field recordings from different regions and through spoken word, chronicles them for you as you listen. It’s as though you are there with him hearing the sounds as he describes his expeditions, the scenery, the culture, the politics and everything he finds interesting and important. I close my eyes and can see the white bellied sea eagle flying high overhead just as he depicts it. Like the flipside to this tape, there is a degree of nostalgia, but only in the sense that someday, someone will discover this recording and listen to it in a different time, where most likely social, political and literal landscapes will have changed. Wallace is documenting a portion of space and time with great import and care and I fucking appreciate it.
As I’m a frequent watcher of nature shows, especially those hosted by none other than the UK’s David Attenborough I can’t help but be reminded of them while listening to Wallace but also notice the extreme difference in delivery between himself and the famed host. It’s not at all fair to compare them as they are after very different means in their work. Instead, I’d rather compliment Wallace for his straight forward approach, depicting and journaling his travels with just enough detail, just enough information to grab your attention and the let himself slip off as the recordings take over. His dry, British execution is a perfect juxtaposition to the raw, natural sounds he’s speaking about. But in there you can feel his emotion, his caring for what he’s talking about. The dramatic approach of a TV host is not missed nor would it be welcomed in such a stoic, personal recording.
Obviously there is a stark contrast to the two artist’s work here. Dunning and Wallace balance each other and work perfectly together. Their contributions could also just as easily exist on their own. Both create tension and uncertainty and equally can be a calming presence to the listener. Highly recommended.