How many field-recording enthusiasts does it take to get a cello through a London manhole? Who cares? What’s important is that they succeeded.
The “they” in question is radio producer Bruno Rinvolucri, whose Tunnel Vision series from resonancefm.com has been offering up a tour of London’s literal underworld for almost two months; percussionist Gabriel Humberstone, Rinvolucri’s guest in episode five of the series; and Ute Kanngiesser, the cellist in question. Also along for the ramble was Laurence Williams, who like Kanngiesser was invited by Humberstone to make the most of the tunnel’s inherent acoustic gifts (MP3).
Humberstone and his colleagues utilize the space to shape their free improvisations. The cello and percussion at the opening of the half-hour segment are all scraped strings and rattling noises, best experienced on headphones, and in the dark, to get the full sense of sonic claustrophilia. Later, Williams’s instrument provides a veritable foghorn for subterranean explorers, with echoes that suggest an audio delay more generally associated with digital effects boxes.
The four previous Tunnel Vision guests have included science fiction author Frank Key, artist/environmentalist Jane Trowell, “deep topographer” Nick Papadimitriou, and electric guitarist Sammie Joplin (whose visit — which ended when the ensemble surfaced at the feet of London police officers — I wrote about back in early August, shortly after the series began: disquiet.com). Next up for Rinvolucri’s show will be University College London architectural historian Ben Campkin.
This fifth episode was initially broadcast on September 15, and was uploaded to the Resonance FM website on September 20. Spectral image courtesy of Resonance FM.