i think its about experimental music. .. ... .... ..... ...... ....... ........ ......... .......... ...........

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sound and Stone by Various Artists

Hannes Fessmann and his father Klaus Fessmann for the last few decades have been working in the area of stone and sound. The unique instruments they build with different types of stone found throughout the world have a distinct sound to them. They can be played in different ways, but the most common seems to be rubbing the polished surface with wet hands, which makes a deep resonant sound with multiple overtones, quite unlike any traditional western instrument. Although, stone instruments aren't an entirely new idea as Hannes points out in this video which serves as a good introduction to their work:

All the years of experimentation and refining the shape, feel and sound of these stone instruments caught the attention of researcher and composer Steven Halliday and in 2016 Steven and Fessman worked together to design the Halliday/Fessman sound stone, a process well documented by Halliday. Sound and Stone is the title of the compilation released by Steven’s new label, Composer Built, which as the name suggests is a label focusing on composer built instruments. Sound and Stone is the first and only release so far, so it will be interesting to hear what comes next for the niche label.

The album consists of nine tracks by nine different composers all using samples of the Halliday/Fessmann sound stone. It’s interesting to hear all of the different compositional approaches to the prompt. Hannes notes in an interview with Halliday that the stones lend themselves to a slower kind of music, partly because of the naturally long resonant decay of the instrument. As you would imagine, more than a few of the works have an ambient sort of feel. As a listener, it’s quite nice to just let the resonance of the stones wash over you. Although one might be content to relish the tones and textures of the stone, the idea for the album according to Halliday, was to "try to put the sound stone in a different musical context rather than just doing pure stone recordings." In many of these works, new textures are created with various effects and filters and so on. The intro by Jasmine Guffond even has a sort of glitchy vibe to it. To think of the album as sound art, rather than music in the conventional sense, is perhaps more helpful. Most of the works seem arrhythmic and improvised. The multiple overtones produced by the stone, perhaps by western standards considered slightly dissonant, convey at times an almost apocalyptic ambiance, especially when any kind of distortion is used like in Machinefabriek’s beautiful track.

Sound and Stone is available for download on the label’s bandcamp and comes with a sample pack of the Halliday/ FeƟmann sound stone that you are free to use to create your own stone music, for £6 of course. A limited edition cassette of the album is also available.

Matt Ackerman

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