U37 | Kassel Jaeger | Onden 隱佃
format : CD ltd to 200 hand numbered copies
all copies come with an additional art card on 300gr satin paper
release year : 2016
length : 41’07
status : OUT NOW !
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(Belgium) : 13 € (inc.postage)
(Europe) : 14 € (inc.postage)
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: info :
Onden, « hidden field »… a forgotten district in Tokyo. Only a shrine remains.
From now on, hidden fields are everywhere around us, formed by electromagnetism.
Onden is a wavering composition, interleaving two types of soundfields : the electromagnetic ones, produced by the numerous electrical devices of Shinjuku’s busy streets and the nocturnal ones, made audible by birds, insects, murmur and silence in the empty and calm residential streets of Tokyo.
Onden is one of the multiple Tokyo’s sonic ghosts.
(Kassel Jaeger, June 2016)
: reviews :
For many years the province of a small number of specialists, the advent of affordable good-quality equipment made field recording a tool that was available to a much wider range of artists and musicians. As a result, the range of approaches taken to using this tool grew exponentially. Unedited, ‘documentary-style’ recordings of specific locations continue to be produced, but more and more artists have become interested in combining field recordings with traditional musical elements such as harmony, melody, and rhythm, or in using field recordings as if they were traditional musical elements. I guess you could say from this that places and our experiences of them are rich and complex enough to sustain a very wide diversity of artistic responses and representations.
Three recent albums demonstrate this diversity, while retaining certain common threads. Kassel Jaeger’s “Onden 隱佃” (Unfathomless, 2016) is a roughly 40-minute piece of music composed using “aerial and electromagnetic fields captured at night” in Tokyo. In other words, airborne acoustic sounds, such as the chirruping of cicadas and the distant swoosh of transport, are combined with aural transcriptions of normally-inaudible elec-tromagnetic fields generated by communications equipment, electronic signage, heating and lighting, and so on. On one level, “Onden 隱佃” is about revealing another layer of the city that would normally remain imperceptible; in addition to this, the piece (the title of which translates as ‘gentle’, as well as being a name of a river in the area where the recordings were made) documents the quietness and stillness of a residential area late at night, giving rise to all the inner thoughts and feelings that come to the fore in such an atmosphere.
All three of these albums make use of sounds that could be considered ‘field recordings’, yet with very different intentions and results. While they all make use of sounds captured from the world around them, each has its own way of turning inward, of listening also to the thoughts, feelings, and intensities a place can evoke. Places recorded to disk or tape are by necessity inhabited places; the fact that, as these albums demonstrate, they can always be heard otherwise points to the multifarious possible ways in which they can be inhabited and shared with others. [edited version]
Dans l’incroyable série de phonographies lancée par le label Unfathomless, il faut maintenant compter avec Onden 隱佃 de François Bonnet, alias Kassel Jaeger, un ingénieur du son français qui travaille pour le GRM et qui signe des enregistrements depuis dix ans (c’est le troisième sur le label belge).
Pour vous faire une idée de la chose, je pourrais vous donner (je vais le faire, pour tout dire) les noms de quelques-uns de ses collaborateurs : Oren Ambarchi, Giuseppe Ielasi, Stephan Mathieu, Lasse Marhaug ou en tant que technicien Robert Hampson. Voilà qui pose le décor de cette obsédante divagation japonaise, plus précisément tokyoïte.
Commençant comme un Throbbing Gristle genre Hamburger Lady, Onden 隱佃 nous fait nous demander de quelles sortes sont les machines employées par Kassel Jaeger. En fait, ses micros ont frôlé (de nuit !) des installations électriques pour attraper des sons de toutes sortes. Que voulez-vous, certains mettent l’air de Paris en bouteille & d’autres des bouts de champs magnétiques de Tokyo sur CD. Le comble étant que c’est rudement impressionnant. A tel point qu’Onden 隱佃 est, à mon avis, un des must have du label belge.
Le Son Du Grisli
If you enjoy the soothing frying sounds of electromagnetic fields captured from lights and cables, and want something of the ambience of Japanese cities as well, you’ll feel at home with this surprisingly calming urban soundscape of field recordings made by Kassel Jaeger in various locations across Tokyo over a six-month period in 2015. The material has been spliced into one continuous flowing track of layers of droning textures, all frying away and intriguing in their sonic pointillism, each dot of sound complete in itself as a tiny mini-universe and all of them joined up in long extended linear strings that are more than the sums of their minuscule atoms. Jaeger lets these sounds speak for themselves, not trying to shape them into structures with recognisable beats or rhythms and the result is a leisurely sinuous, almost organic river of metallic or sparking textures brimming with alien life and energy.
The actual sounds are very difficult to describe and yet they can remind listeners of all sorts of objects and memories: a hydrofoil coming into a bay and settling down beside a wharf to deliver its passengers; a leaf-blower in the far distance from where you’re sitting; cargo trains passing in the night; machines laying asphalt on a road; and probably lots more besides, depending on the individual listener’s own past experiences. No sound in particular evokes a mood or feeling and as a listener you tend to passively observe the sounds passing by rather than feel engaged with them. Yet these soundscapes can be very hypnotic and through their mesmerising quality keep boredom at bay. Some listeners may even find a spiritual dimension in the sounds, especially near the end of the recording where deeper tones begin to resound amid the receding textures.
There are actually two very different soundtracks here on the album: the more obvious urban-generated soundtrack of electromagnetic humming and droning, and people going about their daily business in the city; and the world of birdsong, insect ambience and other murmurs of the natural world that acts as a counterpoint and commentary on sounds generated by humans and their machines.
I do find this a very likeable recording though its length and obvious lack of musical structures won’t endear it to most people. You’d be hard put to find another recording of droning metallic noise drone that’s just as serene, majestic and impassive as it rolls by.
The Sound Projector
Black lights and heat vision goggles allow humans to see hidden aspects of the visual spectrum. Fewer aids are available for the hearing sense. When we need help, we use dogs and Geiger counters; but vast sonic worlds continue to resonate, unheard by human ears. Kassel Jaeger addresses this dearth of hearing in Onden by combining organic and electromagnetic recordings. To listen is to hear as few have ever heard.
The ear struggles to make out the sounds of church bells, distant traffic, crickets and birds: night recordings, made in Tokyo, familiar found in buried snippets. The amplified foreground is electronic: wires and radio waves, cellphones and signal data, recorded during a Shinjuku day: an inversion of sound. Two worlds collide, each equally real and equally lost. One – that of the natural world – has been sliced from its moorings. The other – that of the electronic world – bleats in silent cacophony. In the real world, no one hears both. In space, no one can hear you scream, but people do scream (at least in Alien). On earth, no one can hear your electrical field. But what if they could? Would these frequencies operate as an ongoing tinnitus, or eventually fade from consciousness like the sounds of crickets and birds?
Jaeger calls these sounds “sonic ghosts”, and names his album after a hidden field marked by a deserted shrine. The implication is that the world we see and hear is not the only world. But this is not The Matrix; it’s more like a spiritual metaphor. Words carry hidden meanings; settings hold secret sounds; religion identifies invisible planes.
Whenever a recognizable sound breaks through, the mind gravitates to its comfort. Yet Jaeger’s buzzes, hisses and drones have a different effect. On the one hand, they pro-duce a sense of wonder: what gorgeous sounds we cannot hear! On the other, they pro-duce a sense of guilt: have we replaced nature’s sonic beauty with that of technolo-gy? On Onden, the forgotten and the unheard meet in the same field: cousins in misery, seeking a truce.
A Closer Listen
Not many people released two records on Unfathomless, let alone three, but the honour for that goes out to Parisian based composer whose real name is Francois Bonnet. For his third release using site-specific field recordings he went to Japan and visited Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Tokyo and back home he transformed those sounds in this forty-one minute piece. Jaeger works at INA-GRM so it is hardly a surprise that we no longer recognize the original sound sources; or perhaps we do? Maybe those are insects? Street sounds? A shopping mall? I found Japan at times an incredible noisy place to be, even when it was supposed to be quiet and one can easily hear how the noisy surrounding inspired Jaeger to compose this piece of music which is also quite noisy. Feeding sound into computers as well as modular synthesizers and which are then heav-ily layered together only to mix down in a most subtle and ever changing fashion. What seems to be a thick layer of sound is in fact a thick layer of sound, but upon a closer inspection there is a lot happening in here. Jaeger captures the mood of a big city pretty well with this piece. Changes are evidently there but take place over a longer curve, especially in the second half of the piece. There is very little room for a bit of quietness, and more in the beginning or at the very end. That perhaps makes this a very heavy listening experience, certainly when one turns up the volume a bit, like I did. It becomes more or less an impressive wall of sound, one that doesn’t allow for many other activities, other than listening. And that’s no doubt the one thing that Jaeger wants you to do! I thought this was a damn fine release of some bewildering musique concrete.
Frans de Waard