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Album Review: SoundDome

08 Nov 2019 // A review by Mike Alexander
The SoundDome in Wellington is an experimental sound space, fitted out with 25-speakers that act like the audio equivalent of the capital’s famed transmission gully. Compositions whir and reverberate within its structure adding unexpected resonance to what was originally intended. The idea was wonderfully explored by R Buckminster Fuller, who revolutionised the geodesic dome and proposed that “art and science could make beautiful partners”.


This compilation is curated by John Coulter, who breathes life into it with While The Sun Shines, a largely narrative track of reminiscences of life in a farming community. It’s not musical in the conventional sense, as such, but has its own beauty with industrial and everyday sounds, sometimes slowed down, echoing and reverberating with the warmth and intensity that lasting memories have.

When the sound of bird song and the gentle ripple of a stream introduce Transcendence, you are immediately transported into a more organic environment. They become the background of Chris Cree Brown’s 35-minute opus, a poetic meditation on the dynamics of reality as we experience it through our senses and the potential for a different perspective as we awaken in consciousness. As it progresses it take on the shape of a lucid dream, reminiscent of Celia Green’s ground-breaking 1994 album, Lucid Dreams but with more sensory impact.

Of all the five pieces, David Downes’ Signal has the most dramatic dynamic. Sounds, often the human voice or multiples thereof, or animals are distorted and sometimes bent out of shape with thuds, bleeps and assorted, gongs, chirps and other invented noises. It’s a disarming but thoughtful piece that bounces between invasiveness and immersion.

It’s also a good prelude to John Elmsly’s five part Soundings, which is a musically ambitious piece, that ebbs and flows on droning waves. It has an edge of the seat feel to it, much like watching a suspense movie, where you are never quite sure what to expect but he’s certainly used the space of the SoundDome to open up a Pandora’s box.

The final piece by Paul Smith, is where the most rewards lie, if you want a more structured musical experience. Logos, as the title suggests, dives into the expansiveness of space with treated bowed strings and a humming bass which give rise to an orchestral depth that probes past the familiar into the unknown where a modulated choral pitch beckons like the sirens of ancient mythology.

SoundDome isn’t your ordinary fare but a headphones must for the adventurous explorer into the dynamics of sound.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )
 

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