My new solo album Relativity/Only (Nice Music/Shame File Music) has had a bit of a journey. It is my first solo 12” vinyl release, which makes it a bit special for me, so it seems appropriate that it’s had a winding path to realisation.
The album’s beginnings came from attempts to sonically document the main sound sculpture from my Stability exhibition of 2019. Basically, I was not happy with my own recordings of this complex sound sculpture, so I started fishing around for an engineer who had the skills and interest to record this multi-turntable driven beast. Ernie Althoff recommended Michael Hewes, who has done a lot of work recording Speak Percussion. Michael and I communicated by email in late 2019, when I sent him some demos and videos of the work, and it was obvious from those early exchanges that he got what I was trying to achieve.
We made tentative plans to record in his Richmond studio in early 2020. Throughout the summer, I honed the sculpture in my own studio space, working on sketches (see end of this post) to make it easier/quicker to set up in Michael’s recording studio. I also created and demoed several variations on the initial sound sculpture. By February 2020, I was in the studio with Michael, setting up for four different pieces, all based around 3 turntables and a suspended/swaying horizontal pole, and various percussive objects suspended from/placed on each.
I’ve since come to understand what I’m aiming at as a kind of percussive episode that is free from human intervention or ego, yet has enough variation and chance at play that the rhythms constantly shift. “Everything Is In Motion” documents a more honed version of the original sound sculpture from the 2019 exhibition, whereas “Drum Circle” is more kit focussed (‘egoless drummer’). The two flipside tracks “Only (Two)” and “Only (Four)” are more reductive, where the hits/beats have much more space between them.
Our initial mixing session was in March 2020, just as the Melbourne lockdown was looming. Later tweaks were done remotely. I was very pleased with how the recordings came out. Michael’s knowledge of mic placement especially bridged the gap in what my own amateur recording skills lacked. These recordings all involve five microphones around the sculpture, covering different perspectives and conveying a sense of physical space.
I really didn’t know what, if anything, I would do with these recordings. The exercise was initially for documentation, but I was thrilled with the end product. When Simon J Karis of Nice Music expressed an interest in co-releasing them with Shame File Music, I was very happy at the prospect of these recordings having a public life on vinyl.
And now here they are, with Tim Panaretos’ photography large and stunning on the front cover, hot off the magnificent new Program Records press in Melbourne and sounding crystal clear. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I do.
Relativity/Only is out now on limited edition vinyl LP and digital formats from Shame File Music and Nice Music, and on all streaming platforms.
Many thanks to Ernie Althoff, Michael Hewes, Simon J Karis, James A. Dean for mastering, and Nat Grant for generously donating some of the drums used.