Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A review of Ben Owen's - 05012009 FP

Ben Owen - 05012009 FP

The field recordings found in this wonderful work possess a rare quality in that you can picture yourself at the scene; a benefit not often found in discs of this nature and a boon that attaches itself to repeated experience. Enshrouded in the joy of listening is found a conscious acceptance of always being surrounded, how can this disc portray such a measure?

Throughout the four tracks the listener is immersed in a substantial depth of field, in a quixotic insertion of unexpected auditory events played out to ones senses. I can't quite tell if Owen has 'meddled' with the recordings here, and I find ears straining to the floor, trying to hear from different angles what it is I think I hear. It is almost impossible to detach oneself from the events as the play themselves out, involuntary memory takes leave of taste and smell to reside in the ear for a time, and in this world of sensory integration, audition and vision engage in constant discourse, melding into chimeric pose at once attempting a split at twice pushing ever closer. It's as if I am not quite listening to a disc, rather my reflection. I hear feelings of inspiration as I do–did when out in the field myself, when I was without knowing, a something that opens only when one forgets it has a lid.

Myriad illusions can be extracted from the experience of this listening, the clamour of ravenous insects, for example, eating all within and without reach, eating themselves as they eat each other; but wanting to repeat myself, the quiddity of this release echoes echo, one encounters oneself in a simulacrum that matters and does not matter in a Cageian 'no matter what eventuality', though, perhaps a more apt; no matter what, every eventuality is mirrored eventually. Thought appears, fragmented, attached to an element of a frame in flux as appearance disappears, attaches to another fragment borne of the same listening of neither one node or a thousand. Each fragment is inseparable as it becomes itself it becomes others as source echoes its etymological origin and takes the shapes of droves of possibilities manifest in origins.

05012009 FP is certainly the most poetic disc of field recording I have yet to hear, whether intended or not, Owen has abstracted himself from the aforementioned frame. A frame that resides everywhere, yet I perceive him as somehow absent. There is the presence of the uncanny, though not the usual sensation of one environment bleeding into another into another - it's as if what I am hearing is always happening, always occurring–even though I am sat here in front of a laptop in front of a mixer in turn in front of rather garish Alesis speakers–the experience feels entirely natural. 

I would say there is an ebullient originality found in the notion that Owen did not wish to make a grand gesture with this release. Myriad incidental sounds (chairs scraping on floors–often heard through the filter of pipes and ceilings) sing of a Leopardiesque sense of vagueness, or vago, effortlessly co-mingling with silent static and flocking liquids as they approach corners and clamour for direction. I can't put my finger on it, though I am certainly trying out loud, but the simplicity portrayed in this digital replication of environment is analogous to the feeling of stepping outside ones front door, and enjoying it, a Ponge like glee in gingerly approaching the knob of the door, the routine reflections in Perec's eyes as he quaffs another coffee in front of another bus, another layer in the bulging strata of idiosyncratic explanation in attempting to ascertain the mindset of calm that mixes with vibrating elation upon confrontation within sought substance. The appreciation of never being quite ready.

In a review of the same disc the always eloquent Brian Olewnick stated that 'walk,wind,rain' brought with it a sense of truculence, of which I couldn't agree more. Throughout this work there are indeed many moments of fierce and raw beauty, some by-products of technology, others, benefits of a technological clarity (such as the hyperbolic gyrating pipes that present themselves during 'in hull'). Throughout I find myself clutching at a composite definition of disappearance tethered to the balance of dynamic, always speaking of a lustre found in constant approach. 

So, a disc, as scarce as hens teeth - where ones sensory faculty is laid bare in an uncovering of fascination.

Purchase it here