Memoirs of Four Discarded Objects

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Michael Northam (aka Mnortham) is a mean sound manipulator -- and a playful one, too. Judging from the title of this album (the result of a commission from Kunstradio and the ORF) and the titles of the four pieces it presents (and which translate to "Knot," "Brush," "Spring" and "Chime" -- either the door or grandfather clock kind), one expects to hear works assembled from sound samples originating from the object named in each title. Absolutely wrong. In fact, the sounds heard evoke many things, from birds and water, to church bells and more alien realities, but they hardly ever bring to mind their namesakes (except in "Carrillon," much more obvious). Then again, what are the memoirs (or should it be "memories"?) of such objects? The question is worth pondering while listening to the album, but the fact is that Mnortham's music exerts a fascination that goes beyond such thoughts. His pieces are carefully assembled, offering enough recognizable sound elements to trigger the imagination and enough dreamy, puzzling, abstract textures to let it run freely. "Brosse" is particularly well-conceived, keeping hold of the listener's attention throughout its 12 minutes of duration. The digipack leaves the listener with very little information (on the contrary, his :coyot: CD included a detailed explanation of the project), something some people will find annoying, but in terms of listening experience, Memoirs of Four Discarded Objects represents a clear peak in Mnortham's discography and, despite the demanding aspect of this music, offers a relatively comfortable listen. Recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick