Daniel Bennett and Stephen Cornford
Out of the estuarine city of Bristol comes this collaboration between Bang the Bore activist Daniel Bennett and Consumer Waste co-curator Stephen Cornford. The album’s three tracks are comprised of various controlled feedbacks, mechanical noises, thumps, and pings, synthesised tones, and other such frequencies of uncertain origin. Cornford is an expert in extracting musical sounds by circuit-bending consumer electronics, while Bennett is known for more computer-based sonic explorations, often under the moniker Skjølbrot. Here their talents combine to form an intriguing mix of the organised and the chaotic, the visceral and the measured, without giving away which of the pair is responsible for what.
There are lots of small, compact sounds on “Fellfield Draff”: soft buzzings and pricks of static, fuzzes and whirs, background scrapes and hisses. There are also many loud, aggressive sounds: rough, distorted winds, brittle, grating onslaughts, metallic rattlings and deep bass rumble. Weaving these two extremes together are a range of pitched tones, sometimes pinging bell-like and melodious, sometimes breathing calmly, droning like an organ, or descending like a sine wave bomb-drop. To describe it in such a way makes it sound as if these different categories of sound were more distinct than they actually are, however. In truth, it’s a lot less cut-and-dried than that: a rush of noise or feedback might take on a tonal quality, for instance, and a tonal drone may form a diffuse noise patina.
While there may not be anything particularly ground-breaking about the structure or timbres heard on this album, Bennett and Cornford achieve a balance of tonality and atonality that makes “Fellfield Draff” stand out in a crowded pack of analogue noise improvisations. The noise paradigm encourages both musicians and listeners to embrace an infinity and radical equality of possible tonalities, yet the best work in this area often acknowledges the frames set by unconscious expectations, themselves shaped by our experiences of participating in a world that appears by means of a particular logic. By this score, “Fellfield Draff“‘s mix of noise and tone is a captivating and enjoyable mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar, freshly engaging the senses while scrubbing them clean.