Klara Lewis & Simon Fisher Turner


An extraordinary, moving montage of field recordings and electronics

Despite an age difference approaching 40 years, the duo on this extraordinary four-piece suite have a number of things in common. Klara Lewis was drawn to manipulating sound through making short films on her digital camera, while Simon Fisher Turner has composed soundtracks for numerous films, including several by the visionary director Derek Jarman. Unsurprisingly, their solo albums from last year – Too from Lewis and Giraffe from Fisher Turner, both on Editions Mego – bear cinematic qualities but elude any explicit narrative. At the heart of this abstraction are environmental sounds that send the listener to a familiar but unknowable elsewhere.

Shunning the documentarian approach, Lewis has consistently sculpted away at her field recordings until they reform and ripen fit for looping and filtering, ending up remarkably musical. Meanwhile, although Fisher Turner is not shy of incorporating Foley techniques into his soundtracks (such as using an electric toy hamster for the sound of penguins in the beautifully bleak The Great White Silence), his most overt display of field recording is the Guerrilla Audio pieces he posts online twice monthly. Each collage pastes studio detritus alongside clips of places he visits in a kind of audio travelogue that reveals music in the noise and texture in the tunes.

William Burroughs believed that playback of found sounds had the potential to “result in accidents, fires, removals, especially the last” and, while Care shares the elusive narratives of both Lewis’ and Fisher Turner’s solo work, you can’t help feeling there is something sorcerous at work here too. The extreme dynamics of the opening track, ‘8’, see bursts of a bass heavy machine gun rhythm tear up the swirling synth breeze beneath. Insidiously, it returns several times before the track ends, while suggestions of gunfire are reprised on all but the final piece.

Noisy street sounds with loud, impassioned singing first parade before mangled re-pitched rave stabs on ‘8’, while ‘Tank’ has children chanting over portentous, elegant feedback. By the end of the track, what could be the same chant is made by adults; in between, a folk song rising out of an urban atmosphere infected by liquid electronics is subsumed by radio static.

With all this contrasting of violence with wistfulness, modernity with tradition, I’m drawn to wonder if the terse titles, particularly ‘Drone’ and ‘Tank’, are contemplating contemporary warfare? If so, by concluding such drama with the reflective and soberly swelling synth chords of ‘Mend’, the album becomes less a celebration of noise and more an invocation for peace. Whatever the intent, the result is a modern, cinematic symphony whose artful openness to all sound gives this duo as great a command as any orchestra.

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