TTW#19 - Daniel Menche - Raw Fall
Cassette only - limited edition of 250 copies
A: Raw waterfall recording of Tunnel Falls at the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, USA - 19m54s
B: Raw waterfall recording of the South Falls in Silver Falls State Park located in the Oregon Cascade Mountains, USA - 20m01s
“There is a reason for this madness and that is the waterfall” – Roger Steen
“DRAMA is the goal. Maybe to you it's noise and maybe it's music yet DRAMA is my only goal. I only desire to create the most dramatic energy possible with sound. Whether it's quiet or loud the aim will always be DRAMA.”
Born and still living in Portland, Oregon USA, Daniel Menche has been recording and performing music since 1989. He has a large catalogue of recordings, including 2009s “Katerakt” on Editions Mego, an episode for TouchRadio, a full length for UK-based computer music label, OR and much besides. For a complete discography, click here.
Fans of Daniel Menche, or for that matter the Editions Mego label in general, will no doubt already be aware of the Portland artist's interest in the ferocious sounds made by waterfalls. Last year's 'Katarakt' was constructed from a number of waterfall field recordings made around the pacific Northwest of the USA, and while the end product featured some heavy-duty processing, this new Tapeworm edition gives us an insight into the unconditioned sonic profile of these natural forces. Each side spans around twenty minutes and captures a different location: the first is a raw recording of “Tunnel Falls at the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, USA” while the second side depicts the “South Falls in Silver Falls State Park located in the Oregon Cascade Mountains, USA”. There's a certain matter-of-fact-ness to these documents that recalls Russell Haswell's Wild Tracks, and the omission of post-processing or sanitising treatments comes as a welcome strategy. The first side tends to be highly active among the higher registers of the frequency range, and a little close listening soon reveals the more nuanced attributes of what initially might manifest itself as a bombardment of white noise. You'll hear a flow of resonant, dripping noises merging with the falls itself, and the overall intensity of the piece varies, prompting you to wonder from what vantage point Menche made the recordings and whether or not he was moving around at the time. The second side proves the more fearsome of the two, gradually developing into an overwhelming roar in its latter stages, which itself suggests that Menche is edging closer towards the falls as he records - not only does the document seem to get louder, it acquires a more middle-y, throaty quality. The effect is subtly quite menacing, as if you're approaching the maw of some enormous beast. Another fine Tapeworm edition then, and as usual supply is highly limited, with just 250 copies circulating. Grab one while you can.
Aquarius Records (US):
Man, is The Tapeworm tough to figure out. But maybe we don't want to figure them out. A label, a CASSETTE ONLY label, that traffics in an insanely wide range of sounds, how they're all connected we're not sure, field recordings, seventies style disco funk, obscure trip hop by super models, gorgeous soundscaping, avant outsider sound art, spoken word, turntablism, strange women reading Baudrillard, heavy drones, solo piano, interviews with artists, faux sixties psychedelic jazz, lost new wave... All we know is their aesthetic kind of reminds us of... well, OURS! Which is maybe why we're so in love with this label, and pretty much everything they release. This week elsewhere on the list you'll find some nineties recorded but seventies style dubbed out weirdo disco funk, and then there's this right here, a collection of field recordings from Daniel Menche, two side long tracks, each a recording of a waterfall in the Oregon mountains, and both weirdly lovely.
Knowing that these are in fact recordings of waterfalls, makes it easy to identify the sounds the second they start, but after a few minutes, the sounds become less and less obvious, and if you were played this recording with no knowledge of the source, you'd likely just assume it was a collaged soundscape of white noise and muted hiss, blurred fuzz and swirls of static, a weirdly hypnotic abstract, totally random and ever shifting soundscape of muted white noise, almost like a Merzbow record, dialed WAY down, all the edges smoothed, into something strangely serene, a sound that while totally natural, when removed contextually from nature, sounds manmade, even though it's a sound we've all heard, camping, hiking, and which once again demonstrates that much of what we discover and create, already exists in nature, which is both incredible and incredibly humbling. A fantastic sonic document. LIMITED TO 250 COPIES!
The Sound Projector (UK):
More waterfall recordings from Mr Menche (see elsewhere for his CD of same for Mego this season), these both captured from locales in Oregon. There's something about hearing these continually pounding water effects that makes a lot more sense when they're printed onto soft magnetic tape, reducing the sharper top end that sometimes emerges from the clean, digital version. Additionally, it seems to transform the very tape itself into a waterfall, the brown plastic and oxide passing over the tape heads like a continual river of auditory thrust. To those nature-hating listeners who are inclined to doubt the musical-sonic qualities of this aquatic source material, supposing that when you've heard one waterfall then you've heard them all, then prepare for the barrel-ride of your life when Menche seals you in and propels you on your way with a swift kick. The difference here between Tunnel Falls at Eagle Creek and South Falls in the Silver Falls State Park is so blindingly obvious that you don't need be a daredevil Houdini type to experience it for yourself. Proof once again that Mother Earth has all the best tunes, and there's nothing any amplified table-noise gonk could ever do to match the power of these beautiful watery onslaughts. 250 copies, sold out at “source” if you'll forgive the pun.