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Viv Corringham: Soundwalkscapes

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Navel-Gazers #54 is an interview with Viv Corringham who is going to talk to us about her latest release Soundwalkscapes , on the Flaming Pines label. This album caught my attention immediately for a number of reasons, starting with the title: what’s a Soundwalkscape? I’m sure we’ll get the scoop from Viv - whose website is captioned “singing-walking-listening” - and looking more closely at the titles while making my way through the music, I’m already starting to grasp it. The foundation underneath each track here is a sound-walk through a specific place. They’re not exotic locations - not to me anyway, having grown up on Long Island, and settled in London… likewise one gets the sense that to Viv - another artist who vacillates between the U.S. and U.K. - as well, these settings are incidental. The liner notes explain: “It began with a self-imposed rule: on the first Monday of every month in 2023, wherever I find myself, I will take a walk. I’ll record the walk, the envi

Bardo Todol y sus aves sin nido: Tape Morditorium

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Navel-Gazers #53 is an interview with Bardo Todol a.k.a. Pablo Picco who is going to talk to us about Tape Morditorium . This is an album whose title caught my ear, and it’s nearly getting me spell-checked as well. After verifying that the name is not in fact “tape moratorium” - which, why would it be, from an artist who releases tapes with such staggering frequency? - I’m anticipating a fun discussion. Perusing the Bardo Todol page on Bandcamp one is immersed within a catalogue of colourful artwork and titles… upon closer inspection I also note the prevalence of collaborative albums in the discography, often with artists not located anywhere near Pablo’s home in Córdoba province, Argentina… and in our correspondence thus far, I detect that same international collaborative spirit. As for the music, Bardo Todol is candy to my navel-gazing ears - it’s as though I’ve received an experimental-music advent calendar of syrupy, handheld aural delights, all leading up to this re

Brian Ruryk: Almost Thinking

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Navel-Gazers #52 is an interview with Brian Ruryk who is going to talk to us about Almost Thinking . A relentless 30-track long barrage of sounds, it feels in some ways like even more than 30 tracks, since each of them - many of which are under two minutes long - seem to consist of their own little sub-fragments which are lodged there within, like some kind of musical clown car. It’s certainly a work which plays with my head, as after the first listen I had recalled - erroneously - a sound collage album of almost exclusively electric-guitar noise. It was only upon revisiting ‘Almost Thinking’ that I got any kind of handle on the actual breadth and range of sounds represented here: there are what sound like radio samples, vinyl scratches, junky clatter, incidental noise, tape loops, electronic blips, white noise, traffic sounds… and there are lots of voices - none of them jump out to me as being Brian Ruryk himself but who knows? What I love about ‘Almost Thinking’ is the p

Howlround: The Ghosts Of Bush

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(Introduction): Navel-Gazers #51 is an interview with Robin The Fog a.k.a. Howlround who is going to talk to us about The Ghosts Of Bush . Perhaps the definitive work of audio “hauntology”, it’s an album whose existence seems to have emerged like a great lumbering apparition out of the day-to-day - or let’s say night-to-night - working life of its creator, who was on the graveyard shift as a studio manager for the BBC World Service in the waning hours of its 70-year tenancy at Bush House in Aldwych in 2012. Rendered onto tape using Bush House’s disused reel-to-reels in the mysterious basement studio S6, all the source sounds here - a rich tapestry of spectral crackles, murmurs and creaks - were derived from the building itself, a cavernous old structure built from naturally resonant Portland Stone way back in 1935, a time when the BBC itself was only in its infancy. We’re having this discussion behind the scenes at the British Library where Robin more recently worked as an

Ellen Zweig: Fiction Of The Physical

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Navel-Gazers #50 is an interview with Ellen Zweig who is going to talk to us about Fiction Of The Physical . This collection of experimental spoken word from the 1970s/80s era caught me completely off-guard when I was poking around on the always-intriguing Phantom Limb label. What strikes me immediately about these pieces is their clarity: the clarity of the voices, the arrangements, the textures - and, throughout it all - an indelible clarity of purpose on the part of the artist which is really unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. Perusing the liner notes, the plot thickens: apparently we’re hearing a technique which Ellen calls the “human loop”, where performers repeat a phrase over and over onto tape, culminating in a collage of voice-loops which veers off into a life of its own. As for the instrumentation, it's described using terms such as “fourth world” and “fourth wall” - all I know is by the fourth track it’s as though I’m submerged in some sort of underwat

Blanc Sceol: Follow With Your Ears

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Navel-Gazers #49 is an interview with Blanc Sceol who are going to talk to us about Follow With Your Ears . Although I’ve known Blanc Sceol - a.k.a. London neighbours Stephen Shiell and Hannah White - for a few years and enjoyed exposure to their work in the form of numerous recordings, compositions, performances, gatherings, happenings and goings-on, this latest release ‘Follow With Your Ears’ plays like a formal introduction to the duo. It’s surely the right moment to spin up a good old-fashioned, meandering Navel-Gazers, if only to do justice to that title which is as clear an invocation as we’re ever going to get. I’m more focused than usual when listening to these sounds, with the audio contents of the first track Buzz Hum so utterly arresting and bizarre that I find myself genuinely unprepared for a sudden change of scenery on track 2 , to more earthly environs. It’s a startling effect and one which is really only achievable on a recorded album, which is why I’m gra

What's Outside? - Adventures in "Feeled" Recording

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What do the following passages from Navel-Gazers all have in common? “There is a recording on the track Rooftop Gardens from the Sheraton hotel in Anchorage, in which I enter the revolving doors from the street, move through the lobby and up to the top floor with a rattling elevator. This upward movement sets a narrative in motion, entering a fictive garden with all its greenhouse technology sounding. It finally ends in a sense of elevating or evaporating into a dense cloud. When I made the record I was interested in this kind of associative narrative, that's really based on the sounds themselves, but becomes a poetic event.”  - Marja Ahti, Navel-Gazers #38 “One of the things I fell into the habit of doing during this time was making audio recordings of myself at work around the home: the sounds of the camera and of myself shuffling around and setting up different situations - sometimes there would be music on in the background, or sometimes not.”   - Graham Lambkin, Nave