MARK FELL DVD REVIEWS
December 15 2008
FROM VITAL WEEKLY
Mark Fell we of course know from his work with SND, and his various solo releases, which, me thinks, were more interesting, since they broke away from the click and cuts movement. Though seemingly not as active as before, the recent years have been used to develop his own sound and video work, which this DVD is a representation of. He works with geometrical forms which react, or perhaps vice versa, to the music, which seems to be processed Tibetan singing bowls. They sound like sine waves here. There are three pieces on this DVD, which runs, at least on my DVD player as one track, and its hard to tell one piece from the other – there are three in total. Images and sounds remain the same throughout, of course within the parameters Fell choose. A very consistent work, which worked best for me in a totally dark room, with the sound turned up pretty loud. Swift stops and changes, bright colors only on a part of the screen, slowly changing sound and image, make this a beautiful work – provocative in all its simplicity. A strong work, moving away from the micro glitch movement and into a new sound world of its own. More serious avant-garde than microsound. Great work!
(vital weekly, the netherlands)
One of digital music's leading innovators, Mark Fell is perhaps best known for being one half of the iconic clicks+cuts duo .snd, but his work as a solo artist – whether as Secular Musics Of South Yorkshire or under his own name – tends to be of a more experimental and sonically challenging ilk. That's certainly the case with this audio-visual project, which draws together highly minimal, morphing electronic sound designs (mixed in both stereo and Dolby 5.1 formats) with correspondingly morphing blocks of colour and shape. Divided into three chapters (ranging from two minutes to almost thirty-nine in duration), this disc offers an insight into synaesthetic correlations between sight and sound. While you might previously have bumped into this sort of experiment within the confines of the Raster Noton roster (particularly via someone like Ryoji Ikeda) Fell takes a more colourful, academic and less rhythmically conditioned approach, utilising high-end audio processing techniques to mould and remould sound, all accompanied by abstract yet highly organised visual displays which change in accordance with what you're hearing. While the images aren't exactly static, owners of plasma screens might start getting a tad nervous about screenburn during certain stretches – but hey, that's minimalism folks. Possibly the most intriguing section of the DVD comes during the second chapter, when a grid of incrementally different hues switches and transforms itself according to highly resonant blip tones, pulsing and filtering themselves as the piece progresses. It's all very bizarre when you stop and think about what you're actually fixating on; it seems like such a minuscule transmission of information, but Attack On Silence is most certainly something to be savoured by audiophiles and sound nerds the world over. Highly recommended.
It seems astonishing to me that LINE has reached its 37th release in such a short span of time. In relation to many other labels of their kind, LINE has achieved world wide recognition and respect amongst the minimalism/microsound community, and now, this their 2nd DVD release marks a new level of ambition. A notoriously difficult medium to project and sell in the current marketplace, DVD would seem an obvious route for the remit of the label – that of focussing on installation based audio or audio visual work In a minimalist framework.
Mark Fell's Attack on Silence (a performance? An installation?) harnesses the power of the visual medium in its purest form, by integrating delicate sonic structures with highly simplistic and stylised visualisations. Given the ever increasing level of sophistication in today's stock PC visualisation skins with which to compete, Fell's work warrants extra respect, as he slices the screen in half with narrow bands of undulating primary colours, and bombards us with swells and pits of pin-prick sonic tonalities. The last time I was this blown away with such a subtle, yet truly revelatory audio-visual feast was on Ryoji Ikeda's Formula series. Fell deploys the same pillarbox format that Ikeda does, confining the raw elements to a limited frame, set on a piercing black backdrop, which on a home cinema sized screen, gives the effect of being suspended in space. This to me, is some kind of Post modern, post millennial psychedelia, a head trip which takes in all of the sensory apparatus, albeit with a level of subtlety and grace that far transcends the swirly, organic forms epitomised by the medium in the psychedelic generation's heyday. The sleeve notes in this gorgeously packaged DVD more than hint at sacred geometries, mandala's and consciousness altering patterning, a much cited reference point perhaps, but with a unique, rigorously geometric spin that Fell is more than capable of manifesting in sound and light
One short, and two other long form pieces see us moving from shimmering bands of colour, going through a panoply of transitions and gradations, in synch with a deliciously tonal soundtrack..here and there the occasional tract of near suspended animation, where the screen appears frozen, and then suddenly becomes active and immersive. Fell questions his own modus operandi, begging us the question of whether or not these apparitions are truly spiritual, transcendental, or merely physiological responses to a stimulus – he questions whether or not we are enlightened, examined, entertained, or enmeshed? For me, this work encompasses all of the above, a highly detailed and powerful transitional digital painting, that forces us to encounter the indescribable, the ineffable, and indeed the mundane..nirvana achieved in under an hour. This release will excite and challenge in one easy lesson..a minor masterpiece, and one that I will revisit again and again. – remarkable.