A collaboration between composer Simon Fisher Turner and ceramicist Edmund de Waal, A Quiet Corner in Time started life as a sound work to accompany de Waal’s 2018-2019 installation – one way or the other – at the Schindler House in Los Angeles. What is presented here is a reworking of those original soundscapes, a detailed examination of specific sound events associated with de Waal’s practice and a gentle but rigorous examination of the relationship between the event and the location and, perhaps, of all such events to the locations that host, support and sustain them.

The album’s first track, “The Museums with Long Halls,” plays with echo and delay as a way of conjuring the experience of space and time, not to reproduce it as in a field recording but to suggest the physical experience of it as if by aural metaphor. The track opens with the reverbed closing and locking, or opening and unlocking, of heavy doors, followed by the similarly reverbed sounds of people entering, chatting and walking, hard-soled shoes on wooden floors, overlapping voices. The documentary aspect fades as new inexplicable noises emerge, vocal phrases are distorted by effects and drones are added. What might have started as a mere reproduction of a sonic moment becomes a compositional frame that Fisher Turner uses to draw attention to the possibilities of all sounds, like a busier John Cage, adding and manipulating noises in order to draw attention to the fact that noises are being added and manipulated.

“We Begin To Be Certain” follows a similar starting position where familiar sounds evolve into unfamiliar ones, drones and held notes tumble out of the gentle clatter of ceramics and resolve back into them as we hear pottery vessels rock back and forth, a testament to Fisher Turner’s work in following de Waal’s demands relating the relationship between the tactile and the aural. Elsewhere, de Waal has commented that, with regards his practice, that “When I see objects I hear them, in some kind of way,” he explains, “so the visual weight of an object gets transferred into an aural space. That leads to music, or rhythm, or poetry.”

The grittiness of the shattered ceramic is the fluttering base of “Breaking Emptiness” which mixes a gentle ebb and flow of tones with short pulses of electronic noise, while “The Children Will Have To Stop” places sounds of similar frequencies against each other to trouble the listener’s desire to recognise them, while at the very edge of audition children can be heard, playful voices emerging through the pulsing drones and retreating again.

The title track offers a series of machinic pulses that start and fade, the quiet corner emerging as sounds start and die away. Here reverb is added to the larger sounds, doors closing and the like, while smaller noises are left unadorned and there are enough of the now-familiar sounds of pottery being handled, and sometimes mishandled, to give an imaginative picture of what might be happening, while at the same time, the location of these events, so clear at the start of the album, is removed.

Lest the listener becomes too relaxed, “Right Side Up or Upside Down” utilizes a clatter of out-of-tune piano notes and other struck instruments to disrupt the experience while drones and the sounds of rhythmic abrasion circle, these too melting into sustained notes and drones that, in turn, are further interrupted. “They Could Visit” and closer “You Don’t Have To Go Anywhere” revisit the processes so far developed, small sounds kept close with the use of volume to indicate proximity, other sounds sent further away with the use of reverb, location and object recordings laying with or alongside more familiar musical elements, field recordings kept intact or bent thoroughly out of shape.

Together, de Waal and Fisher Turner both extend the experience of the exhibition and find ways to use it as a starting point for other possible experiences. The mixing of both what might have been heard on-site with Fisher Turner’s field recordings from the Schindler House, with the sounds of manipulated ceramics (recorded especially for this project by Ryuichi Sakamoto) and the addition of heavily manipulated sounds from a variety of sources, makes this an album that rewards patient, careful and, at times, uneasy listening.

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