::: INTRODUCTORY WORDS :::
The title translates as The Ship of Fools, discussed at length in
Michel Foucault’s Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la Folie à l’âge
Classique (History of Madness)
What did these outcasts see and hear as they sailed from port to
port without welcome? Perhaps they found happiness in each
other’s company, without conventional expectations and social
obligations. Perhaps they found peace in the many moods of the sea
and the rivers. The Ship of Fools stands as a metaphor for so many
aspects of contemporary individual and collective existence.
– James Wyness (2013)
::: PRESS RELEASE :::
Steeped in Scottish panorama, ears-educator James Wyness brings theory and practice face to face…armed with a PhD in electroacoustic composition and keen on biological sciences, semiotics and anthropology, using field recordings as well as hand-made instruments, and found objects, he weaves detailed sonic universes & audio-environments attentive to timbres & spectra…
these often acquire an extra dimension in the live context of installations & performances…
Most of his works so far are self-releases, though he has some out on netlabels like Impulsive Habitat, Green Field Recordings, and also one on Gruenrekorder…he has recently set up his own structure and a further bunch of ltd edition releases is scheduled to appear on his Reekin Lum Records label…through the convergence of mutual interests, he is in the process of collaborating with Giancarlo Toniutti…
“stultifera navis” has already had some public presentation during his 2013 Czech residency at my Školská 28 in Prague…
bubble barely visible lifeforms,
an unrecognized language of ridges and folds,
and sibylline marks…
Once skimming the surface,
they’re welcomed with wind moanings, trembling wires,
and rustlings in interlaced layers…
Dry wood, an entanglement of clear scratches and wild weed line old doors,
like openings to dormant wonders…
“stultifera navis” is a dense trip
where the past lurks into the present,
within the very heart of learning…
an hamper of new found significances…
::: TRACKS :::
1. stultifera navis
::: DURATION :::
::: FORMAT :::
CD ltd to 200 copies
::: REVIEWS :::
Wading into the natural element of Belgium’s Mystery Sea imprint (purveyors of refined abstract ambient recordings, always resting cozily in refined abstract cover art), Stultifera Navis by James Wyness addresses an “archetypal liquid state” by manipulating the sounds produced by “Scottish ponds, Iberian geophonies, mountaintop chapels and transmission masts, metal factory, hand bells, metal drinking vessels” and launching them across the brine. The passengers aboard his fantastical ship may be high, dry and blissfully unaware, but a world is passing just under their hull and the shoreline of their destination is approaching – not an untouched distant purity but the homes and tools of a small community left to weather and rust. Why it was abandoned is hidden in the mists of time, but it will now be their new abode.
Wyness’ and Drouin’s respective work addresses possible endings, possible beginnings, fact and fiction. The common thread is the ubiquity of human foolishness.
Avant Music News
After that, Stultifera Navis, from Scottish composer and musician James Wyness, is almost deafening in its silence. One long track, a gently meandering tapestry of field recordings and ambience, encompassing “Scottish ponds, Iberian geophonies, mountaintop chapels and transmission masts, metal factory, hand bells, metal drinking vessels”, as it says on the sleeve.
The title translates as “Ship of Fools”, an allegorical vessel that drifts without guidance or purpose whilst the passengers carouse or remain sweetly oblivious. Not much evidence of carousing here, but there is certainly a sense of drift and obliviousness. At times, the sounds on this CD barely even register, fading away as your attention wanders. Before you know it, the track has ended, and you’re not sure how you got there, just like the voyagers on the Ship of Fools.
However, “altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi”, as the Romans say – “the deepest rivers flow with the least sound”. The hisses, drones and vibrations that Wyness has assembled exert a strange pressure on the mind. You may well find yourself going back to make the same voyage all over again, discovering new details under the surface as you go, before the cycle of attention/inattention starts up again.
The Sound Projector
A rather short CD, I was thinking, and perhaps at less than twenty-seven minutes maybe the shortest by the Mystery Sea label. James Wyness‘ music was reviewed before (Vital Weekly 689 and 796) and he works with composition, live concerts, installations and such like. On his website he writes about his music “My compositional aesthetic converges on the materiality of sound, on compositional strategies informed by morphogenetic theories borrowed from the biological sciences, and on the behaviour of sound in space, an on-going concern in relation to multi-channel installation and theories of architecture. Sound sources typically range from field and experimental studio recordings to hand made acoustic and electronic instruments to found objects”, and this new work is an example of all of this. It’s one piece, but build from a variety of sound sources, such as Scottish ponds, Iberian geophonies, mountaintop chapels, and transmission masts, metal factory, hand bells and metal drinking vessels. That’s an interesting collection of sound material, some of which are water related – the usual guiding for Mystery Sea – and some not. Wyness creates a piece of music that is in strict linear build up, like we are crossing land along the straight line of a stream that goes through it. It is not a work of one sound being explored over and over again, but it uses a multitude of sounds, all at the same time, mixed together in a highly versatile way. Sounds move in, move away, move around, move out, and all of this in a nice vibrant manner. There is no standstill, but there is always a slow yet constant motion around these sounds. Multi-layered but with a fine clarity over these sounds, distinct and clear from each other, this is a great work. However with one thing to complain about: with less than twenty-seven minutes, this is actually very short; I wouldn’t have minded this to be thirty-five/forty minutes.
Frans de Waard