U28 | Nicolas Perret & Silvia Ploner | Nýey
Nýey : excerpt 1
Nýey : excerpt 2
format : CD ltd to 200 hand numbered copies
all copies come with an additional art card on 300gr satin paper
release year : 2015
length : 31’07
status : still available
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(Belgium) : 13 € (inc.postage)
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: info :
In 1963, off the coast of Iceland, an island emerged after an underwater volcanic eruption, a rare event that occurs on average twice a century. It was given the name Surtsey, after Surtr, the fire giant of Norse mythology. The surface of this new land grew after further eruptions until June 1967 when it had reached 2.65 square kilometers in size and poked 175 meters out of the sea. Surtsey has been an object of research as no other territory has been before, since it bares the unique possibility to study in-scale the creation of an ecosystem. Closed to the public since its birth, only a few scientists have access to the island once per year for four days. To this day more than half of the initial territory of Surtsey has disappeared. The violent waves of the winter degrade its coasts and the wind erodes its surface. Scientists estimate that in 2120, two-thirds of the surface will be gone and erosion will have laid bare its heart of palagonite, a rock that might withstand for a few thousand years.
Being the youngest member of the Westman archipelago, Surtsey serves science as a window to the past of the older islands. Reciprocally, those older islands are studied as windows to what Surtsey might become like in the future. Following this approach of the island as sort of “time capsule,” we investigated in Surtsey′s assumed past, present and possible future in exploring the sonic environment of Surtsey as well as the one of its neighboring islands. The resulting sound piece Nýey evolves around the motifs of creation, colonization and metamorphose of a territory.
Nýey is composed of:
Field recordings from Bjarnarey and Elliðaey, two older islands of the Westman archipelago.
Field recordings from the volcano Eldfell and the new territory its eruption created in 1973 on the island Heimaey.
Field recordings from Surtsey, recorded through a sound trap by Borgþór Magnússon (expedition leader on Surtsey).
The piece also contains words by three generations of scientists engaged with the island and samples from the original music of the movie “Surtur fer sunnan” (Ósvaldur Knudsen, Iceland 1964), composed by Magnús Blöndal Jóhannsson.
(Nicolas Perret & Silvia Ploner, March 2015)
The radio version of Nýey was produced by the programme Klangkunst of Deutschlandradio Kultur (broadcast date: April 18th, 2014), with the support of “Du côté des ondes”, GMVL, Phonurgia Nova and the Surtsey Research Society. In 2014 the radio piece was awarded the first prize in the category “Radioarte” at the 10th Bienal Internacional de Radio.
Nicolas Perret and Silvia Ploner – http://www.islandssongs.blogspot.com – work with recording technologies to sound out mysterious environments, remote territories and unknown phenomena. Envisaging the milieus they investigate as laboratories, their interest is drawn to the faint, the imperceptible, the unsuspected, the sonic detail, the inaccessible. Alongside scientists whom they share fields of study and methods of work with, they embark in long term projects. The resulting field recording based compositions and installations shape listening as a method of exploration. Nýey is their first common project. Their second project, ALL DEPENDS ON THE SUN, explores the acoustic phenomena related to northern lights.
: reviews :
Moi ça me rassure dès qu’un oiseau pointe sa queue dans le coin. D’autant que sur ce CD ça se passe en Islande (si j’ai pas rêvé). Le vent sur les cratères, le crachat des geysers, les voix qui nous parlent d’extraterrestres, de nouvelle ère et de nouveau monde, voilà le genre…
La phonographie de Nicolas Perret & Silvia Ploner n’est pas bien longue. Est-elle plus mystérieuse pour cela ? Oui sans doute car les sons et les (deux, il me semble) voix qu’elle fait parler font partie d’un paysage inconnu que le duo a visité puis reconstitué – jusque-là, rien d’original sur le papier.
Mais dans cette « recomposition », l’anxiété n’est jamais loin. Même quand on est assuré que rien de mal ne peut plus se passer (ni les oiseaux nous attaquer, ni les souffles nous emporter etc.) on craint fort. Mais c’est la force de Nýey de n’être pas rassurant. D’avoir su conserver dans la beauté de sa composition l’insécurité du voyage.
Le Son Du Grisli
This one is a real gem. Anyone who enjoys podcasts and Ted Talks is immediately advised to check out Nicolas Perret & Silvia Ploner‘s Nýey, which began as a radio show and is now adapted for disc. The recording is an elegant departure for the Unfathomless label, unlike anything else in its catalog.
The topic of this film-sampling, scientist-quoting, volcanic soundscape is Surtsey, the island that burst from the sea off the Icelandic coast half a century ago. Scientists are allowed to visit only four days a year, and eagerly await the opportunity to examine its fluctuating ecosystem. Perret and Ploner mix field recordings from the island with others from nearby sources: the islands of Bjarnarey and Elliðaey, and the Eldfell volcano. (Sorry, no Eyjafjallajökull!) The field recordings are the main attraction, but the music of the 1964 film “Surtur fer sunnan” and the words of three generations of scientists provide additional dramatic heft.
“Nobody knew how the island would be formed and how short time it would take,” the opening narrator intones. Anyone who has been near an aquatic lava flow has experienced the excitement of seeing steam rise from the sea as red and blue connect. The Big Island of Hawai’i’, for example, continues to grow each day. Surtsey, on the other hand, is shrinking, no longer active, falling prey to the elements around it. But these gurgling, bubbling field recordings are teeming with life. The natural booming sub-bass is offset by higher-pitched peeps, and even the cries of local birds. The rippling water sings of spawning fish.
It may not be much to look at right now, but Surtsey is home to a number of smaller species, with few natural predators. The scientists’ wonder is palpable as they speak of flora and fauna. Everything happened swifter than expected; the island came into its own, then took a long, sweet nap. As the bubbling of the recording recedes, more wildlife becomes apparent, including multiple avian flocks; by the two-thirds mark, they dominate the sound field. Generations have already made Surtsey their home; generations will follow.
As the recording winds down, scientists speak of the natural breakdown of the island; erosion has already whittled it down by half. The sounds of local birds decrease, when the lapping of the waves is amplified: an effective means of conveying the island’s physical and aural future. Surtsey has become a character to the listener, and we are sad to hear it go. “What happens then?” a scientist asks. The winds begin to howl as nature claims its own. But for a brief, shining moment – an eye blink in geological time – she was able to poke her head above the water, and lay claim to all she saw.
A Closer Listen
Again Unfathomless releases a work by people that I never heard of, although Nicolas Perret might be the same the one behind the release of Hotel Gromada (see Vital Weekly 705). That was music with the use of guitars, field recordings and electronics, whereas this new work is all about field recordings, all made off the coast of Iceland, where in 1963 an underwater volcanic eruption created new land, but which is closed off due to scientific research. Underwater volcanic eruptions are a rare thing. Only a few scientists are allowed there, and then only four days a year. In the same area there are similar islands created in very much the same way, much earlier, which is where, if I am correct, these field recordings were made that Perret and Ploner use in ‘Nýey‘. Various, I assume, scientists speak a few words every now and then but throughout this is a more than excellent work of electro-acoustic music. I would think that the field recordings have been effectively used to create a work of radio-dramatic proportions. Sounds are transformed, altered and placed against versions of the same sound but then untreated; there is drone like blocks of sustaining sound, especially towards the end, probably from holding a microphone in the arctic wind. There are also explosion like sounds, with a microphone stuck way below the surface, which sounds almost like these recordings are witnesses of the original volcanic eruptions. Ranging from violent loud to very quiet and subdued. The voices are dispersed rather sparsely throughout this piece (which clocks in at thirty-one minutes), but add a documentary feel to it. It’s just enough and ends on a perhaps sad note: ‘we jump forward 1000 years so we can start to understand better how Surtsey will look like when you have only one rock from one island with a lot of vegetation on top. What happens then?’ The second sentence is a different voice, but it adds great drama. Excellent, yet all too short release.
Frans de Waard