The Festival Internazionale del Tearo, held in Santarcangelo in Italy in July 2009 brought together a number of sound sculptors to create ‘sound installations’ - music as art that’s visual, interactive, engaging (or alienating, depending), and concerned with environment. This 7” vinyl-only single is a document of responses of two of those artists – Teho Teardo and JG Thirlwell to the environments of the caverns found in the hill of Santarcangelo.
Both Taho and Thirlwell make maximum use of the acoustics their respective caverns offered, and while he might have built his reputation as a purveyor of shocking, far-out musical collisions under the guise of Foetus, and been responsible for some brain-splintering remixes (his treatment of ‘Wish’ for the Nine Inch Nails remix EP ‘Fixed’ is but one shining example), but JG Thirlwell is a man who appreciates art, and understands theoretical and cultural contexts. He also understands drama and experimentalism, and recordings like this, which utilize the ordinary in extraordinary ways locates his as a successor to John Cage.
‘Ecclesiophobia’ (meaning fear of churches) makes use of a unique arrangement of bass drums, subwoofers and digital kit, all triggered by water dripping from the ceiling into the pool below makes imaginative and innovative use of natural rhythms. The result – not an actual field recording, but a studio reconfiguration of the original underground installation – may lack the visual stimulation of the underground work (Thirlwell positioned a light beneath the drum head), it almost certainly captures the atmosphere: rich, resonant and with spectacularly capacious reverb, ‘Ecclesiophobia’ is at once sepulchral, (un)holy and other worldly, as well as innately primal.
On ‘Oh Hook’, Teardo employs instruments in a more conventional way – by which I mean the heavy baritone guitar and strings are recognisable for what they are, although subject to electronic treatment and the natural, multi-dimensional reverb of Grotto Teodorani introduces depths and sonic profiles rarely heard, and perhaps impossible to create above ground.
In combination, these cleverly-conceived sonic explorations of natural spaces deep below the surface provide an unusual and perhaps unexpectedly stimulating listening experience.
a href="http://tehoteardo.com/"> Teho Teardo Online
a href="http://www.foetus.org/"> JG Thirlwell Online