Furl CD, 41 min.
composed 2007 - 08, released 2010
Cover art by Harrison Higgs
Includes music composed for Montauk (Liz Gerring Dance, NYC), Swarm/Knives at Diapason Sound Gallery (NYC) and the video/sound/performance Flock & Tumble.
Focus on open clusters, animal patterns, resonant “ghosts”, dynamism, percussive bursts, awkwardness.
Sources include voice, plucked springs, dry branches, various metal objects, Fender Rhodes, struck pipes, detuned hammer dulcimer, bass drum, clapping, trombone, dry bamboo, signal generator, blown pipes, Chinese mouthharp, church organ, prepared piano, prepared synth, and field recordings of the Chicago O'Hare Airport, a rushing stream, mineral deposits in water, snow crystals, industrial areas in Portland, OR, heating vents.
Read Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
Read Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
Read Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
Read Franz deWaard, Vital Weekly
Read Héctor Cabrero, Le son du grisli
Dan Warburton, The Wire Oct. 2010:
Vancouver based [sic] sound artist Seth Nehil’s early works, notably 2002’s Confluence and Stria with John Grzinich, were huge, multilayered affairs, the electronic music equivalents of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Atmospheres and Lontano, in which “anywhere from one to over a thousand layers could exist in any moment”. But in the same way that Ligeti progressively thinned out his textures, eventually returning to simple melody, Nehil’s recent music has become sparser and more concentrated on individual detail.
Not that there’s anything very melodic about Furl, the sequel to last year’s Flock & Tumble, also on Sonoris, but there is a discernable return to more traditional notions of motive, development and structure in its five tracks, specially the album’s centerpiece, “swarm”. With its sounds sourced from percussion, complete with their time-honored signifiers (drum roll = increasing tension), and a certain penchant for the good old reversed soundfile crecendo, it’s a 21st century take on the Scheafferian etude, deftly reinserting its constituent elements in varying degrees of transformation in a set of superimposed variations. Luc Ferrari would certainly have smiled at Nehil’s subtle use of panning – headphone listening isn’t essential, but it’s certainly recommended – and his skilful use of different degrees of reverberation to create the aural illusion of depth and distance.
Events take their time to unfold, and extreme changes of dynamic and timbre are studiously avoided, but despite the music’s austerity, Nehil (like Ligeti) can’t resist a lush texture: “hiss”, with its bells and forlorn triads tolling in a mist of rumble, high frequency whines and delicate intakes of breath, is especially haunting.