Let´s get right to it, without expouding at length on the aesthetic parameters within which Snowfield was conceived and executed. Disc One contains field recordings of what I assume are fingers, boots and contact microphones playing around in a patch of British Columbian snow. Seven tracks of crunching, skritching and scratching snow crystals stretching over more than an hour. While I can imagine that it was entertaining in brief snatches in the UK white cube for which it was intended back in 2003, as a home listening companion it quite honestly becomes quickly repetative and annoying.
The initial limited run CDR release of the above disc has now been superceded by this handsome edition now including a full CD extra of reworkings – two by Jamie Drouin, and one each by Lance Olsen, Yann Novak and, a bit of a joker in the deck, Tomas Jirku (though he too is a Vancouverite).
While I have no doubt that Drouin and Novak used original source material as the basis for their soundscapes, you´d be hard pressed to identify where exactly. Instead it seems more a matter of having been inspired by the vision of an untouched, flat plain of snow rather than its actual aural qualities. All three of these “remixes” are each a very accomplished exercise in evoking stillness. Olsen´s and Jirku´s contributions each remain much more faithful to the source, but it is the work of Novak and Drouin I keep returning to for sheer musicality.
C’era una volta Seattle (Stati Uniti)… che con il tempo è cresciuta (a dismisura) fino a diventare la più grande città dello Stato di Washington… Diede i natali al chitarrista Hendrix… Kurt Cobain nacque il 20 febbraio 1967 ad Aberdeen (cittadina poco distante) e le foreste di Seattle furono lo spunto per il più bel telefilm degli ultimi anni: “Twin Peaks”… Dunque ora resettate tutto e non pensate più al grunge stracciato dei boscaioli, ma riconducete i suoni su cosidetti “non suoni”… esattamente quello che propone l’etichetta Dragon’s Eye Recordings (originaria per l’appunto di Seattle)… Prendiamo, per esempio, l’opera sopra indicata “Snowfield + Remix” a firma Jamie Drouin & Lance Olsen. La “musica” è quella registrata cogliendo il suono della neve, sì avete letto bene. Sessanta minuti di rumorini che sibilano “cocci di neve” argentata… Ostico? Neanche tanto, anzi per nulla! Ma il bello arriva dal secondo cd, in cui altri artisti -come Yann Novak”- rimettono le mani su gli stessi suoni per estesi remix. Raggelante e tonificante, ci vuole tante pazienza per raccogliere (tutto in una volta) questa beltà… Però con il caldo in arrivo la neve potrebbe pianificare turbolenze varie ed eventuali. Non male.
Coming in a DVD slim case, this is the reissue of a 2003 CDR-only edition by soundscapers Drouin and Olsen, a recorded sample of a 4-channel installation whose sources derive from a field of snow in British Columbia, approximately the same size of the exhibition space where the couple played back the fruit of their effort. This particular version comprises two CDs: the first is the original’s reproduction, the second contains five pieces – created by the two main authors with additional contributions by Yann Novak and Tomas Jirku – who expand, rework and sometimes completely change the primary concept. On a pure level of aural gratification, the latter disc is obviously the most satisfactory one; we face various approaches to the treatment of the sonic qualities of the snow, resulting in different views of ambient and electronica that focus both on the very content of both low and high frequencies and the most evidently rhythmic, quasi-techno character of the composition. In terms of purity, CD #1 shows more of the unprocessed sound of the basic materials: the crunch, the friable noise of the white matter might recall a dirty, scratched vinyl, instantly making us think to Christian Marclay’s “Footsteps”. At times barely there, but often sustaining the whole environment, a droning undertow also derived from the same source reinforces the overall structure of the work; loops were also implemented. If one avoids looking for disguised messages, just enjoying the “installation” attributes of this material, then it can be considered as a good outing.
– Touching Extremes
Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen are sound artists and founder members since 2001 of the Infrequency imprint of Canada that is associated in the U.S.A. with Seattle’s Dragons Eye Recordings that runs Yann Novak. ‘Snowfield + Remix’ originally was recorded in 2003 as a limited edition on CD-R. This disc takes its name from a sound installation created in 2003 and contains a double CD. The CD#1 contains noises recorded in a snow field in British Columbia, Canada; the seven tracks were showcased in a vast and empty gallery of art in the United Kingdom. These tracks recreate the vast spaces of the snow field where silence is even appraised like part of the landscape. The CD#2 contains reworks of the original material of Drouin and Olsen that both also play, as well as by invited artists Tomas Jirku and Yann Novak that produce a dense layer of textures. The last track ‘The Walk Out’ by Jamie Drouin is washed of drones with saturated tones, very intense that unfold in a vast space.
Imagine an empty room in a gallery in London. In the corners, by the ceiling, are four speakers, and their creaks, squeaks, and crunches bring with them a dizzying sense of open space, cold and distance. The noises are recordings of a snowfield in Western Canada, processed and sent to the other side of the world. The Snow Field installation was originally created back in 2003, but you can now recreate its eerie but compelling impact in the comfort of your own home. The seven untitled tracks here have a remarkable cumulative impact, the contrast between their tiny, crystalline details and the vastness of the landscape becoming ever more telling. The CD comes with a second disc of remixes by Drouin, Olsen, and fellow North Western audio adventurers Tomas Jirku and Yann Novak; denser and more layered than the source material, they’re an excellent counterpoint which builds to a bracing climax with Drouin’s inexorably rising “The Walk Out”.
– The Wire
This re-issue of a set of CDR field recordings now emerges as a tour de force for Canadian based Infrequency Recordings. Documenting and interacting with a field of snow in British Columbia, artists Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen have taken their original installation piece, and offered it up for remixing by fellow collaborators, Yann Novak and Tomas Jirku, as well as re-mapping the contours of their source work, recorded in 2003.
This is a densely layered piece, not only a direct recording of snow activity, but also thematically and compositionally corresponding to all the manifestations of snow. The original installation piece (thoughtfully provided as part of the two disc set) sets out to record snowfall, interspersed with energetic sampling that gives life and energy to the field recordings, that are muted, grey renderings of dappled sound. Essentially, this is minimalism with a capital “M”, pared down to minute shavings of granular texture, and like a Mark Boyle installation, literally brings the outdoors into a gallery environment, blurring the boundaries between the real and the simulated.
As snow is formed it is subjected to varying combinations of pressure, temperature and humidity, giving each flake it’s own unique characteristics, and disc two is the corollary of these self-same characteristics, an exploration and explosion of sonic possibilities.
The remixes open with Yann Novak’s “Snow Storm”, adding flesh to the pallid bones of the original pieces, injecting pastel shades and warmth..here the layers are exposed and infused with further textures and gentle meandering tones. On “Raking Light Across a Frozen Path” , Drouin gets to add to his original pallette, with a lilting, looping central theme, a sedate, yet engaging interplay of tones and textures, once again adding light and shade to the source material. Olsen takes a more oblique approach on “Snowfield _Avalanche”, skewering the original work, and pushing it through all manner of distortions and perturbations..the dense resonance of the source material is gone, replaced by a highly filtered, digital composition that skips and stutters, occasionally hitting points of equilibrium that float over warped tones, and squelchy sampling. Tomas Jirku pays respectful homage to Snowfield, never straying too far from the original piece, yet adding further layers and further textures, high blips and tones serve as counterpoint to the original piece, and it’s title, “Animal Tracks in a Field of Snow” say more than I can about the piece. Droiun completes the remixes with “The Walk Out”, a warped and overdriven excursion that reminds me of Zoviet:France, circa “Mohnomishe”, a winding, tonal piece that teeters on the brink of noise music, its overdriven textures resembling a dark choir in some icy, subterranean cavern.
As an exercise in remixing , this is a worthy collection, that bursts with ideas, and given that we are also afforded the opportunity to encounter the source material as well as the remixes, an interesting release from a promising young label.
Jamie Drouin and Lance Olsen’s Infrequency was born in 2001 as a platform for small edition works focusing on minimal sound and art works. This first double CD release comes as the original work by Drouin and Olsen themselves along with a second disc of remixes by Yann Novak, 2 versions by Jamie Drouin, one reinterpretation by Lance Olsen and finally a remix by Tomas Jirku. The original work on the first disc is taken from a 2003 work using the interaction with a field of snow in British Columbia to create the basis for the sound. A series of hypnotic, ultra-minimal compositions using field recordings and direct manipulation which will be very appealing indeed to lovers of the works of Richard Chartier, Dale Lloyd or Andrew Deutsch it consists of layers of micro texture, found sounds and recordings, drone plus low and high frequency range sounds that capture an icy cold yet completely compelling feeling. A deep work of musical art. The remixes on the second disc are beautifully varied and feature some incredibly dense work with gorgeous layers of sound… at times similar to Rod Modell’s ambient work or some of the other Silentes material. These versions are punctuated by the more abstract and fractured version from Tomas Jirku which evolves and mutates over time using multi-layers of captured sound and manipulated tones that keep the essence of the original intact. The final version by Jamie Drouin is an intense journey through layered drone and it brings the project to a wonderful close. If this is the calibre of release we can expect from this label in the future, then I for one will be eagerly anticipating the next installment! Quite superb from beginning to end and a must for lovers of Raster Noton, NVO, Line and other such labels. Highly recommended.