2 Aug 2013

'if witness was an architect' by radio cegeste & lee noyes, released on idealstate no-number series

Recorded live at Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Dunedin New Zealand
17 January 2011
released 02 August 2013

performing in the light, white spaces of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery mezzanine auditorium with Lee Noyes in january 2011 solidified a productive collaboration that continued until Lee left Dunedin for Scandinavia in 2012. this is a recording of that initial performance, and its digital release on the 'no number' series Lee has been producing for his Idealstate Recordings label perfectly reflects its sparse, suspended minimalism.

a brief note on the title : 'if witness was an architect" - it is a line taken from a February 1888 newspaper report on the Seacliff Building Inquiry from the Otago Daily Times. This governmental inquiry into the 1887 collapse of the buildings at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, near Dunedin, eventually held the architect, Robert Arthur Lawson, responsible for structural defects. At the time of the recording of "if witness was an architect" I was living in another of Lawson's grand Victorian buildings, the (very structurally intact) 1903 mansion Threave. the performance included, apart from mini FM radio transmission, various other forms of electromagnetism and related sonic elements, some field recordings i had gathered in the (now empty field) of the former Seacliff Asylum.

a review by Matt Middleton, in the audience of the january 2011 performance:

"Lee Noyes and Sally Ann McIntyre performed first. Sally had amassed a curious collection of items to toy with – and in a speculative facebook post early that day she mused over the outcomes of a meeting between “a mini-FM transmitter, a bakelite valve radio, a homemade kitset theremin, six identical pocket size transistors, a 78rpm record from the 1940s featuring "master radio canaries" (a gift from John Demetrick), field recordings made in the grounds of seacliff lunatic asylum, and a small music box that plays edith piaf's l'accordeoniste...” . 

Noyes utilized his famous mini-sized kit, this time stripped back to absolute bare boner. What occurred was simply gorgeous – the FM and valve radios effervesced and tittered, radio emits a sound so archetypal to those of us with a penchant for information and paranoia, grey sound – empty fuzz such a narcotic delight in my childhood. Noyes mirrored the chatter and crunch of radio by stretching drum-skins, scraping and sucking, blowing and shuttling, his kit transforms into an ululating backdrop for McIntyres radio-orchestration. 

Melody enters as McIntyre spins the haunting 78 and manipulates music box, the evocative multi-verse of source materials create a new world. There is a delerium to this performance. The birdsong and field-recordings created a sense of the baroque and the oriental, like a scene from an islamic garden of delights..birds and warm sweet breezes, beneath which rivers flow. And so I attended my first improvised performance of radio and drum. And I don't think any one else would have had the imagination and responsive sensitivity to make it work. Bravo Lee and Sally."

(review archived in full on Matt's blog, la decennie brut)

there is also a review (in French) within a roundup of Lee's no number series written by on the improv sphere website.