Info Audiobulb profile 
"Audiobulb feature"
compilation album
Audiobulb Records (independent)
"Rust" by Jimmy Behan
"Silent Receiver" by Nils Quack
"Leaving Here" by Jimmy Behan
"Sometimes I feel Strange" by Nils Quack
"Grau" by Helena Gough
"Last Days" by Mark Harris
"Geschud Ritme / Shaken Rhythm" by Hans van Eck
"Diep Deining / Deep Roll" by Hans van Eck
Audiobulb website
Helena Gough
Francisco López
Jimmy Behan
Hans van Eck
Nils Quak
Mark Harris


fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

Audiobulb is a Sheffield-based exploratory music label promoting the cause of innovative electronica. Label curator, David Newman, has overseen a flurry of activity over the past couple of years, and this profile features four of Audiobulb's most recent releases, from a location-inspired compilation to a work driven by an experimental sound generator.

But first up there's Irish electro-acoustician, Jimmy Behan, who blends pianos, chimes, and various synthetics with field recordings in cultivating the meditative spaces of The Echo Garden. A series of timbrel études and fragments of minimal drift enlivened by the patter of tiny tweets (e.g. “Leaving Here”), it creates a mood of ambient relaxation while avoiding the New Age fluffiness typically associated with such notions. Behan’s soundscapes generally shun the pristine and preset, preferring the lightly grained and marbled contour, the flickering and faded image-sound. Representative of this would be “Rust,” which finds a languorous wind chime coupling with filtered pads drizzled with some sizzle; or “Clock for No Time,” which lets tendrils of tones unravel over soft keyboard chords, gently modulating and interacting with field infusions. The Echo Garden is a study in light on water, rippling pond life and insectoid flutter: a work that makes a virtue of the limitations of a kind of faux-naïf palette of gentility and small gestures that seems to allude to the Zen-like atmosphere of a Japanese water garden.

On the evidence of Inscription, there’s still life in the old post-Autechrean IDM dog yet. NQ is laptop-toting Cologne-ial, Nils Quak, with a re-articulation of Warp-ed Artificial Intelligence and post-Mille Plateaux archaeologies at the interface between intelligent dance and experimental ambience. A bunch of tracks that harness rhythmic intricacies, processed field flotsam, to a certain oblique harmonic sensibility, Inscription is apparently a document of the life of a single person, portraying ‘NQ’s response to the frenetic experience of life within a capatalist society’ (sic - press blurb). Certainly its restless patter and repressed melodies may evoke some of the unquiet data-overload of a post-everything world, but have we not been here - or in a very similar place - not that long ago? The musical lineage of opening trio “Glonn,” “Sentomin,” and “Sometimes I Feel Strange” brings to mind the second-generation IDM likes of Arovane and Phonem, or the Toytronic label around the turn of millenium. “Silent Receiver” underlines and bolds the exact coordinates of this harkback to Chiastic Slide-LP5-EP7 period Autechre - the clear and present source of much of Inscription’s inspiration in what is undeniably a well crafted though ultimately genre template-driven exercise.

Birmingham Sound Matter is a complilation resulting from a project curated by microsound maven, Francisco López, who assembled a handful of regional sound artists to compile a pool of sounds from recordings made in the Birmingham area; subjected to treatment and manipulation, these then formed a new transmuted sub-pool. The eponymous matter fuelled these compositions, variously transformed in the Lópezian lineage. From eight intriguing pieces of sound design, two tracks inhabiting different ends of the experimental ambient spectrum might serve to indicate the breadth of the sonic ambit of these audio-inquiries. Helena Gough’s “Grau” is a series of sequences moving from nocturnal hum to more assertive dronings, punctuated by machine noise, bespeckled with nature tones and spectral whirrs. On “Last DaysMark Harris prefers something more pacifically orchestral, with gentle undulations, a la Stars of the Lid; a deceptive serenity is established, becoming progressively more ambiguous with timbral manipulation and the swelling of the predominant drone tone. López himself concludes the collection with “Untitled #225,” harnessing chthonic rumble and field recording detritus to spool out a crepitating stretch of crepuscular ambience. The artists each seek to articulate something of the keynote location's atmosphere through differing deployment of the location extractions, yet the collection is characterised by a unified feel of vague unease and odd beauty: the Birmingham Sound, perhaps.

BassBox is both title and sonic driver of a work by Dutch sound artist Hans van Eck. Described as ‘an electronic air pump which pumps wind in measured quantities through flutes, giving rise to rhythmically fascinating sounds,’ its inhalations and exhalations are arrayed into pneumatic pulses which form the basis of almost trance-like compositions. The concept probably lends itself better to a live installation event than a recorded work, as there would be more from the actual corporeal presence of the BassBox. As it is, as captured herein, such is the homogeneity engendered by the timbral invariance of this contraption and their compositional mediatition that the pieces effectively merge into one. Listen to opener, “Diepe Deining - Deep Roll” and the concluding “Geschud Ritme - Shaken Ryhthm,” and see for yourself. One piece perhaps - “Rivieren” – distinguishes itself, while the others strike very much like variations on a theme. Here a tempo change, there the volume of bamboo-blown air, the odd bit of neo-Reichian phase-shifting, but the concept rapidly wears thin in actualisation. The bassbox may be intriguing conceptually, and no doubt fascinating in the woody flesh, but as a listening experience BassBox, The Album, proves limited.

Review by Alan Lockett


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