MYSTERY SEA 48 | Christopher
McFall | [This Heat Holds Snow]
had placed myself in a rather not so unique position during the time
in which I was composing these works. I'd been in similar circumstances
before, however, I'd long forgotten what it had felt like to be there...to
have established yet an another alignment; a unity of two parts that
had yielded an outcome that was nothing short of inharmonious. It's
interesting how the fever and turbulence of one's surroundings can,
at times, result in the most calmed and contained of workings. This
is the place from which these works were conceived, as they were forged
by storm and stress. I would sit never too alone in front of my computer
by night and compose while my thoughts would slip ever so slightly into
possibilities of detailed night, a place away from the fury of days
into a place in which these works were realized, far from heat, but
somewhere colder; somewhere bathed in wonderful oceans of ice. All that
surrounded me seemed disrupted and volatile, however, I came to find,
in fact, that this heat holds snow."
McFall , June 2008
Rising figure in the vast
nebula of experimental music, Christopher McFall is
a phonographer whose work is heavily permeated with sound elements extracted
from his immediate urban environment in Kansas City, Missouri (USA)...
Carefully captured for their representativeness of certain personal
emotional states, his field recordings have a deep intimate meaning...then,
they are almost surgically dissected, manipulated or/and processed,
and finally reassembled in close detailed cathartic compositions...
To his credit comes already a long list of virtual releases on numerous
netlabels (Filament Recordings, Laboratoire Moderne, Alg-a, Homophoni,
Clinical Archives, Con-v, Test Tube, and/Oar), and also a batch of CDs
for Entr'acte, Gears of Sand, and Sourdine...
Constantly exploring new methodologies of approach, and listening in
compulsively to his surroundings, he'll undoubtedly be more written
about, so keep an eye on his next masterpieces, both solo and collaborative...
On his Mystery Sea sort of innermost diary "This Heat Holds
Snow", he pinpoints life's inherent contradictions...
Afloat & shivering
furtive voices percolate
making time standing still...
Long hollow sounds
scrape the dregs
Our thin skins
are gone through by dark streams
& unspoken dreams...
The city sleeps,
and we hear its sighs,
harsh rain fading our illusions,
our dust memories...
Small tides lick the walls,
swallowing the pale lights,
like an ultimate gesture of atonement...
VITAL WEEKLY 611|Frans
Despite the fact that McFall's
name starts with an 'M', doesn't mean he will be on par with Muslimgauze,
Merzbow or Machinefabriek in terms of production of new releases. Its
perhaps merely coincidence that very soon after his Sourdine release
(see Vital Weekly 640) there is a new one. If it moves to anywhere,
I'd say that McFall doesn't go for the aquatic theme
approach that Mystery Sea is so well-known for, but that he stays with
both feet on the ground. Transferring the sounds of city life rather
than the city - hardly a strange thing since Kansas City is not quite
close to the sea. Although I do like McFall's music,
I have a feeling that the five parts of 'This Heat Holds Snow'
do not necessarily add much to his latest work on Sourdine. The low
end rumbling of the wind howling through empty streets, the crackling
of footsteps in snow, and the high pitched sounds of plug ins transforming
that material. Its by no means an easy job that he does here, or a hasty
one, but it's just that it sounds a bit too familiar. Whereas say Roel
Meelkop knows how create something in similar ways that sound different,
this is a bit too much of the same. Good, but too much.
In several senses, not so dissimilar
from the Jaeger, but both subtler and a tad less immediately engaging
but probably as ultimately potent. McFall has released
several strong discs in recent years and this one fits in well, utilizing
field recordings with who-knows-what else, forming bleak, windswept
soundscapes that might not immediately wow, but steadily work their
way under one's skin. Another very good recording from McFall.
Also limited to 100 copies at Mystery Sea.
WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS|Ian
American soundscaper McFall
here presents a bleak and foreboding soundworld full of trepidation
and disquiet. I'm uncertain as to the methodology behind what
I'm hearing but what I am certain of is that much of the sound on display
here is derived from processed field recordings made in and around his
home base of Kansas City. Is the music he creates from these a
representation of the place or of his feelings with regard to it? If
so then it must be a hell hole of biblical proportions as there is not
even the slightest hint of light or relief in the music he's composed.
The five constituent tracks of isolationist noise-drone, rumble and
grind establishing a sandpaper-sharp foundation that are accompanied
by an almost insectile, skittering of sounds that one can almost feel
or by organic belches of hazy noise that surge queasily from the speakers.
This is probably the darkest sounding album I've heard from the
Mystery Sea stable and as ever it's an absolute corker.
wonderful wooden reasons
This Heat Holds Snow works
in and through a threatening atmosphere, but is nowhere concerned with
catching hold of it, of partaking in impassive representation, for it’s
everywhere engulfed in the tension, care and commitment of (ambiguous)
relations and their pained yet ultimately pleasurable recollection.
There is more evidence of computer edits and post-production here, but
as with many of McFall’s efforts, however sinuous,
it’s still the sound of a mind in real time. Mysterious and oftentimes
compelling, the pieces feature dark blasts of sourceless sound that
skirl the human-inhuman divide before bursting back into realms of flesh
The disc makes a real claim for itself in being a fugue through vigorously
articulated gestures. In pushing the darker regions of his sound further,
McFall also brings out and heightens the potency of
the cool, calming elements. As a sonic tableaux, This Heat Holds
Snow is thus constantly shifting and impervious to the touch.
Another precious thing comes from
Christopher McFall – not that there were any doubts,
as nowadays the man from Kansas City is probably the overall deepest
operator in this congested sector. For its large part, This
Heat Holds Snow definitely belongs in Mystery Sea’s top
five, on the same level of awareness and profundity of, say, Aidan Baker’s
At The Fountain Of Thirst. Still, where the Canadian loopmeister utilized
stratified guitars to elicit unearthly atmospheres packed with wraithlike
entities, McFall continues to focus on the disquieting
aspects of his urban setting to call out misplaced souls and puzzling
uncertainties in a mixture of reiterative low-key mourning and hopes
crumbled under the weight of an eternal world-weariness. The truly remarkable
feature of this composer’s music is the perfect balance between
familiarity - usually evoked by successions of events that instantly
throw the susceptible receiver into a classic state of “back-to-childhood”
emotional discovery - and a pinch of apprehension. The mastery with
which apparently discordant factors – inner-city components, radiophonic
emissions, barely audible voices, secluded rumbles – are seamed
in this study on human reaction to obscurity is unequivocally impressive,
as being vaguely acquainted with a sonic symptom but not able to effectively
determine the source is a bewildering experience for a conscious listener.
This uninterrupted displacement is what makes opuses like this a necessity,
just as all the rest of McFall’s production.
In this small land we don’t content ourselves with bell-and-whistle
façades and bogus arcane ruminations, you know. This quiet artist
delivers unsettling substance by the truckload.
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