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Four Aussies Focus on Details

The Dorobo record label has produced a four-track compilation of resolutely elemental sounds. The title of the compilation is Grain, which suggests both the physical-world reality of dust and texture, and the compositional technique known as “granular synthesis.” (Granular synthesis involves the production of a long-form composition as the end result of individual actions made on exactingly brief sound samples.) The album includes work by four Australian composers: Philip Samartzis (“Microphonics”), Pimmon (“Slegner Forgets”), Darrin Verhagen (“_frame”) and David Brown (“Voices of the Air Shaft”). At nearly 18 and a half minutes in length, “Microphonics” is the longest, and most widely ranging, piece on the album. From small scratchy sounds, to nearby bells and distant voices, it might be a recording made of a composer’s workshop with a window left open — while the composer is asleep on the couch. Pimmon’s entry is considerably more static, unnervingly so, with the quiet hum of an after-hours industrial site. Verhagen’s is quieter still, at least at the start, albeit with a more lively percussive element, by far the warmest thing on the entire album. Brown’s “Voices” is shrill and dramatic, and appears to have been derived from orchestral music; there are sounds of string sections and percussion and coarsely edited vocals. It is as eventful as the rest of the album is quiet, and ends even more suddenly than it begins.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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