The Air In The Sand

Cat: NS3006 Release: 1 Jan 2008

The San Francisco based sound artist Loren Chasse is apt to describe the many facets of his work through a simple metaphor. For example, Chasse often qualifies his microphone as a physical extension of the ear, and site-specific environments become his ersatz studio and mixing board. Yet these metaphors extend far beyond the concept of sound construction and into sympathetic relationships with everything around him.

On his critically acclaimed 2002 album Hedge of Nerves, he applied the often fetishized sound of vinyl crackle to elemental recordings of wind, sand, fire, wood, and surf for an album bristling with tactility whose complex details amassed into an transcendent, oceanic blur. This was not a mimesis of an antiquated technology dumped upon a digital production with the facade of “making something real,” but an abstracted coupling of complementary acoustics hopefully to engage the imagination of the audience.

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For his most recent album The Air In The Sand, Chasse posits another metaphor: the composition as a diorama. Within his ideas about the sound diorama, Chasse exaggerates those sounds which he feels to be essential for a space and minimizes everything else. Again, the recording process of The Air In The Sand revolves around Chasse’s active participation within a particular environment. In these unspecified spaces, he broadcasts an array of drones, textures, and field recordings back into the sonic environment where they intermingle with the ambience of that location. Part of this process is an attempt to move away from the constraints of the digital workstation; but at the same time, Chasse is far more interested in the curious alchemy that occurs when a space listens to itself making sound.

The nighttime chorus of crickets gurgles within aqueous percolations and the tectonic crash of surf crashing against rock. Elsewhere, rain vaporizes in a caustic sizzle as it falls upon overhead electrical wires, and this sound is compounded by the sharp crack of branches and the slow hiss of sand. For all of the elemental sounds that dominate his recordings, Chasse extracts subtle musical timbres and fragile half-melodies that haunt The Air In The Sand. While some of Chasse’s recording techniques remain similar, it is important to note that Chasse sets this body of work (along with id battery and Coelacanth) outside of his ongoing pastoral contributions to the polyphonic Jewelled Antler constellation (e.g. Thuja, The Blithe Sons, Child Readers, and even his pseudonymous solo project Of.) With an emphasis placed upon location and its sonic ghosts, Chasse exposes something profoundly beautiful lurking in the shadows of the landscape.

— Jim Haynes, June 05