: camilla hannan

Cajid, 2005, Caj004

In addition to installation and cinesonic works, Camilla Hannan has been putting out tracks on various Australian sound compilations since 2001 (Document 03-Diffuse, Liquid Architecture 3 and 4). More Songs About Factories is her first full length CD. It is a deep, throbbing, rumbling work which sits well with Cajid's line-up of Thembi Soddell and Bruce Mowson.

There is now quite a diverse field of artists working in a similar vein. Darrin Verhagen's Soft Ash (Dorobo: 1997) and Toshiya Tsunoda's influential piezoceramic microphone document, Field Recording Archive #3 – Solid Vibration (Infringitive, 2001), come to mind. Like most of these practitioners, Hannan begins with field recordings of distant industrial activities and has tweaked and remixed these to produce a set of richly smeared cycling pulses with some coiling, mildly grating additions.

Both the sonic palette and the temporal/rhythmic variation represented on More Songs commences with and eventually concludes in a minimalist vein, typical of this style of composition. By track 4 of 5, however, a series of diverse, stereophonically active, crunchy, crinkling and sharply insistent sounds have begun to both cut across and poke firmly out of the wide bed of the mix. Typewriter-ish punctuations give way to an incisor-like, repeated metallic squeal, creating an interesting dynamic as these new, more aggressive, higher frequency elements move about throughout track 4 and into the final track. As the subtitle of track 4 announces, this is an “Itchy” section, a series of very pointed sonic abrasions which break up an otherwise gently dispersed, aggregated mass of roiling materials and mild pulses. The CD ends on something intermediate between these 2 extremes as the higher frequency, prodding punctums are withdrawn, leaving a series of now much more expansive textural effects. The nature of the now foregrounded background has therefore been subtly altered and continues to be so with more overt speed and a larger acoustic space than in the somewhat more compressed and oppressive first tracks, eventually producing a loud, intense conclusion.

Amongst the many rumbling, mostly deep-tone soundscapes and altered field recordings currently available, it is becoming increasingly difficult to articulate precisely what distinguishes one from another. In Hannan's case it appears to predominantly be this alternation between wide voluminousness and compacted density. It is certainly true that the superlative sounds of Solid Vibration are hard for any artist to top, so Hannan's relative emphasis on sound design over composition may be a wise strategy (inasmuch as the 2 can really be separated within this genre). Nevertheless, Hannan certainly shows on More Songs… that she can throb and grate with the best of them, so I look forward to seeing if her earlier, more harmonic, musique-concrète approach and otherwise glancing sonic shapes might return in future releases to give her field recordings yet another level of overt distinction. In any case, this is a fine new release within a populous but still growing form.

Jonathan Marshall

1 May 2006