INTERVIEW: SEAWORTHY: CANBERRA TIMES (2009)
Cameron Webb / Seaworthy:
When Brian Eno was looking to develop his aesthetic palette beyond rock music in the mid 1970s, he hit upon an interpretation of ambient music that involved interaction between sounds from the natural environment and organised composition. Drawing upon the theories of modernist composer John Cage, Eno realised that the music he had begun to create would incorporate, “the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of the rain were parts of that ambience.” Since then, many forward thinking sound artists have blended innovations in musical technology with field recordings that capture natural sounds from specific locations. Cameron Webb is one such artist. His group Seaworthy has recently released its second full length album titled 1897 on the US based 12k label, and it comprises an atmospheric mix of guitar loops, subtle electronics and natural reverb found in decommissioned Navy ammunitions buildings in Sydney where much of the recording took place. Webb, who also works as an environmental scientist explains that, “the recording process involved a couple of different stages. There were field recordings both inside and outside the buildings, and what I did was to play back these field recordings inside the space. I then re-recorded the room sound, and in that sense I used the room as an instrument to try and create something interactive. Accompanying that were some performed pieces on guitar, so it was a reasonably complex and interactive process.” Webb’s enthusiasm for innovative approaches to guitar playing stems in part from earlier experiences playing in indie-rock bands which provided the impetus for further sonic exploration. He also became interested in textural elements in the music of such notables as guitarist Oren Ambarchi, The Dirty Three and Yo La Tengo. “For a long time I listened to what is generally classed as electronic music made by laptop artists, but I also like music that incorporates traditional instruments like piano and guitar. So, what I like to do is add textures that I couldn’t create with a just a guitar.” Webb also elaborates on a continuing interest in creating soundscapes which involve an element of randomness in nature, and on one occasion bird calls enhanced the atmosphere of an intimate backyard performance. “The music started blurring between the bird sounds I was playing as samples, and the actual birds in the backyard,” Webb recalls. “There are always incidental sounds that come in, like when you are playing in a particular space and it starts pouring with rain, and the rain becomes part of the atmosphere. I really like that openness where environmental sounds can drift into the pieces, and I prefer those sounds to something like a barman emptying a recycling bottle bin in the middle of a set.”
Dan Bigna. Fly Entertainment liftout from Canberra Times 25 June 2009.