Review of Two Lakes [12k1062]

Fluid Radio (UK)

<i>Two Lakes</i> is the brainchild of Seaworthy (Cameron Webb) and Matt Rösner, an audio study of water ecosystems on the South Coast of Australia from April 2010…

The two sound artists spent days at the two coastal locations of Lakes Meroo and Termeil using a variety of microphones, then manipulated the results and added layers of instrumentation recorded during breaks in the field. The instruments listed as being used are acoustic and electric guitars, ukulele and electronics. On the last day of the trip, with the experience of the recording process still fresh in mind, rough arrangements were created from the field recordings and improvised sets. Rosier then took these arrangements back to his studio in Myalup – a small coastal town on the opposite side of the Australian continent – to mix and finalize the production.

The results are strikingly original – I can honestly say that I have never heard anything like this before. It sounds as though multiple layers of field noise have been used in some tracks (“Meroo Sedgeland Pt. 1”), and different improvised musical parts have been combined also. Common themes do run through the tracks, so there is consistency to them, but the way it is presented is diverse and challenging.

The nature noise is familiar to those who know the South Coast, with bird noises and insect life recognizable, but listeners from other countries may find them completely new and intriguing. I admit I considered them in a new light in hearing them presented in this way.

The musical input is intelligent and well considered – there are few concessions to melody; occasional musical parts are distinguishable, but for the most part it feels as though the object of the exercise is to create a new spectrum of sound using layers and drones (“Meroo Lakes Part 1”). There are exceptions to this, “Termiel Lake” being a particularly lilting piece with twitching noise sweeping across the speakers. “Termiel Dunes” is also notable for its energetic eBowed droning. The tracks vary in length from as little as two minutes to up to eight – the impression one takes out of this is that a variety of sounds were collected, but in sorting and collating the material only the standouts were used in this release.

Webb and Rösner have set up a blog where the project is documented in more detail, and further recordings and photographs are available there also. It is also a way for Webb and Rösner to keep an ongoing dialogue between them and to expand on the project. The link appears below. The cover photo for the album is particularly striking, and is mentioned on the site as having been manipulated by Taylor Deupree.

Both Rösner and Webb have been active in the Australian experimental music scene for over 10 years with a plethora of releases on local and international labels, sharing a similar vision of molding found sounds and field recordings with traditional instrumentation and electronics. Aside from shared musical interests, both artists grew up in close connection with the Australian coastline, albeit on opposite sides of the continent. This connection with their landscape as a remote and diverse place is evident in the pieces created by the artists during their collaboration on the South Coast.

I found the recordings fascinating and original, although on a first listen they did appear distant. Over repeated listens I found the intent behind the project intriguing, and I find myself wishing constantly to be nearer the ocean. <i>Two Lakes </i>is released on CD by 12K on September 7th.

– Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio

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