TOMOKO SAUVAGE – OMBROPHILIA LP (Aposiopese)
My interest was immediately siezed when I grasped that this is what I was dealing with. I am thankful to have been made aware of this.
An album of the sounds of porcelain bowls filled with water, and their surrounding acoustic artifacts, sometimes enhanced with field recordings, then layered and/or otherwise edited by computer.
Being an avid admirer of artists such as Jeph Jerman and Michael Northam, I hear this recording as being in a vein of similar taste. It deals somewhat with the automatic / non-performance sorts of creation more focused in Jeph Jerman’s work, and contains the organic naturalism found in both artists’ recordings. Of course there are distinguishing differences, perhaps most noted in the use of a computer, and Sauvage’s focus on resonant bowls of water.
I will say that for me Robert Hampson is somewhat of a touchstone here, too, being an electro-acoustic composer slanted toward naturalism, aesthetically at least if not so ideologically as Jerman & Northam are. Feelings at various points in this recording remind me of those evoked by some of Hampson’s recordings heavier on the unidentifiable sounds of natural origin.
The approach is largely based on the foundation of “jalatarangam, a rare, disappearing instrument of traditional south Indian music, porcelain bowls filled with water tapped with bamboo sticks.” (From the press release.) She has taken this instrument / technique and made it her own by way of adding hydrophones and other objects to elicit and sculpt interesting sounds. Soft, moist, smooth sounds; harmonizing and reflecting in bewitching ways, sometimes forming melodies that work like free verse buoying a few concise recurrent themes. It’s mentioned that Sauvage was influenced by Alice Coltrane, and I can hear it most notably in “Making of a Rainbow”, which is admittedly my favorite track due to its leanings toward melody. This leaning, though, is so slight. It’s a (seemingly) non-played, wabi-sabi melodiousness; a poetic string of tones dictated by nature and gravity, which actually pervades this entire recording upon deeper regard. Enhancement layers of resonant bowl/water or just water are perfectly blended in at times, with sensitive attention to volume curve and chosen additive sounds.
I’m mesmerized by this recording, with the exception of the few more chaotic portions (“Mylapore”, “Jalatarangam Revisited”), which crowd out the wide spaces left, on most of the other pieces, as breathe room for the gently lulling water motions and the many breeds of soft muted ‘bong’ sounds of resonant bowls. These chaotic pieces are beautiful, too, but you would wake right back up were you to fall asleep before your phono needle reached either track. I believe a person can and should use any recording for whatever listening purpose they choose, so using this LP to nap to at times is, I guess, an acceptable possibility for some people. I myself find it way too interesting, textured, and complex to rip myself off like that.
The label, Aposiopese, is new to me and looks compelling.
1570–80; < Late Latin < Greek: literally, a full silence.