Sound Chambers

Ekkehard Ehlers / Ehlers/Suchy/Hautzinger / Franz Hautzinger / Joseph Suchy

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Sound Chambers Review

by François Couture

Sound Chambers is the audio element of an intermedia project also involving architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller, and graphic artist Markus Weisbeck. The work was premiered in the park of the Fundação Serralves, Porto, in September 2003. Little details are given on the installation (it involved geometrical configurations of hedges) and its relation to the music heard on the CD. That said, the music gracefully survives on its own. First contact with Sound Chambers is surprising, as one does not expect something this ambient, relaxed, and accessible. Franz Hautzinger trades his noise-based breaths and spurts in favor of finely chiseled trumpet lines, short successions of notes casually delivered and left to echo in the distance (very Bill Dixon-esque). Joseph Suchy alternates between psychedelic folk guitar strumming and lush, disquieting guitar soundscapes. Ekkehard Ehlers uses piano and noise recordings as sound sources to create shifting atmospheres. The whole thing strongly recalls Brian Eno's collaborations with Jon Hassell, both in terms of style and easiness of approach. This may give the impression that the album is short on experimentation, but in fact some of these untitled tracks push deeper into abstract sound-smithing, and there is always more going on than what meets the ear. Still, in the end, this album is considerably more accessible than what can be considered as the "regular output" of any of these three musicians. Fans of Ehlers' Plays series, of Hautzinger's microsonic improvising, or of Suchy's noisy sound constructions may very well find Sound Chambers lacking substance, but it remains a very well-done disc when accepted on its own terms.

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