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Label & Cat.Number: Elevator Bath eeaoa046
Release Year: 2017
Note: recommended debut release of these U.S. sound artists, who use field recordings and vintage electronic devices for their performances and installations... "It is difficult and challenging at times, and there is not much to grab on to as far as conventional rhythm or melody, but it excels in abstraction. In many cases the result is far removed from the source material, but the environment the two create on here is just as fascinating as any natural one that could be captured." [Creaig Dunton/Brainwashed]
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €20.00
More InfoAlex Keller and Sean O'Neill have created performances and installation pieces together since 2015. Using field recordings, vintage telephone test equipment, and magnetic oscillators, among other tools, their work addresses the agents and artifacts of change in the urban (and acoustic) realms. The resultant audio is a potent brew, seamlessly merging drone, musique concrète, phonography, and various electronic intrusions.
"Kruos" is the duo's debut release. It was developed between December 2016 and February 2017 as a distillation of live performances and as a chronicle of the pair's speculative investigations. "Kruos" is an assured, bracing study of an invisible landscape, and a wholly absorbing colloquy.
This collaboration began as an exercise in the manipulation of field recordings exclusively. The album's title, "Kruos," refers to those early processes, for it is an ancient Greek word meaning frozen or frost, and is the root of the word krustallos, or crystal. The ancient Greeks believed that, like frost, crystal was created by the cold. And similarly, field recordings exist in a kind of crystallized stasis - frozen in time.
The additions of magnetic oscillators and a vintage telecom test synthesizer to their cache have given Keller and O'Neill more time-based control over what happens in a performative setting, while still leaving a great deal to the time-frozen nature of the original field recordings. This remarkable juxtaposition of sound sources, of action and repose, engenders a startling and satisfying listening experience…
"Kruos I" takes the listener on an interior journey, from test equipment to a warehouse, to a medicine cabinet on the Carnival Triumph, to a digital synthesizer: a tense, anxious exploration. "Kruos II" resumes outside, from an urban university's power plant, to magnetic oscillators, to a pastoral scene on a lake, to a dock on another lake, closing this chronicle at a point of poised stasis (or "kruos").
"Kruos" has been released by Elevator Bath as a limited edition clear vinyl LP, copies of which are also available here: www.elevatorbath.com
released July 7, 2017
Alex Keller is an audio artist, sound designer, curator, and teacher. His engagement with performance and recording is an outgrowth of his interest in architecture, language, abstraction, music, and in the inherent aesthetic value of the act of research. Keller recently spearheaded the creation of the Phonography Austin group; his work in the realm of phonography/field recording (plus that of sound art and engineering) has been documented on several releases over the last 20+ years.
Sean O'Neill is a multi-media artist interested in how perception shapes the dynamics of spatiality. He explores both the visible light spectrum and the audible frequency range to determine how they influence our lived environments, and vice versa. O'Neill's installation work involving light and sound has been exhibited and documented internationally.
Keller and O'Neill are both currently based in Austin, Texas. They have performed live, to great acclaim, alongside the likes of John Duncan, Lawrence English, Rick Reed, and many others. They will tour the US this summer.
"Alex Keller and Sean O'Neill may have been collaborators since 2015, but Kruos is actually their debut release. That relative youth does not translate to lack of experience on the album, however, as the duo’s work is a complex, nuanced work of sound art, conjured up from some rather rudimentary sources, largely just field recordings and a telephone test synthesizer. It is a bit of a difficult, unsettling experience at times, but a strong one nonetheless.
The two halves of Kruos complement each other well, with each side representing some drastically different approaches to sound. The first half begins rather simply with a big, looming bassy analog tone that slowly oscillates in pitch. Sputtering at times, it functions well as an underlying foundation for the processed field recordings to be constructed upon. The duo introduces these rather coarsely via recordings of violent, heavy reverberated knocking. There is a rhythmic quality to it, but is anything but conventional. Instead, it functions as a jarring, menacing addition to initially restrained sounds.
Keller and O'Neill are not just working with pure field recordings, of course, so after some of those loud outbursts, a bit of delay scatters the sound nicely, giving an additional sense of depth. Beyond that, some weird creaking textures and shifting of pitches balance out the open space well, bringing a nicely foreboding quality to the composition. The tones get even more varied and pushed to the forefront, building up to a dramatic, yet abrupt ending.
The second half of the record is the more subtle side to Kruos. The low frequency synthesizer hum reappears, but here blended with an ambience somewhere between white noise generator and air conditioning system. From here slow, sparse pulsations appear, representing another misuse of that telephone test equipment the duo utilizes. Sputtering, rumbling electronics appear, giving a bit more tension to the otherwise peaceful surroundings, but still staying more restrained and less confrontational than the first half.
Eventually these indistinct and mostly unidentifiable field recordings and found sounds are presented in a less treated way, consisting of far off birds and insects that again capture the vastness of nature very well. Towards the conclusion, however, the duo decides to get weird again. There is a reappearance of some of the knocking/clattering type sounds that were heard throughout the first part, building to a more disorienting, chaotic arc before coming to another abrupt conclusion.
Alex Keller and Sean O'Neill may not have used a significant amount of instrumentation to construct Kruos, but they achieve a great deal with what they have. It is difficult and challenging at times, and there is not much to grab on to as far as conventional rhythm or melody, but it excels in abstraction. In many cases the result is far removed from the source material, but the environment the two create on here is just as fascinating as any natural one that could be captured." [Creaig Dunton / Brainwashed]
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