MYSTERY SEA 57 | James McDougall | [Dispossession of Periphery]


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Heaped upon the voices’ frail back did addle heavy a monotonic shanty

With squinted barbs of blackheart stasis

It’s garble bleat harried down through steeps

And steeped in Mariana hatred

Searing whispers seep stark tendrils deep

Into prying sight from a complacent null offing

Any more than done with the din and thrum

Of it’s blightly mimetic scoffing?

No words soon cast night

Over word’s throwing no shadow

Now arcing up upon light’s tacit swell, rinsing soot from a headlong prow

Come rolling benthic armadas.

- James McDougall, January 2009


After numerous releases (Test Tube, U-Cover, Dataobscura, Resting Bell, Sentient Recognition Archive, SEM...) both on real and netlabels under the ENTIA NON moniker, offering up multi-dimensional ambient aural vignettes, Australian artist, James McDougall uses now his own name for asserting his yet deeper organic excursions (Compost & Height, Q-tone, Mandorla...). As such, he has accustomed us to vivacious & extremely detailed sonic microworlds & sparkling soundscapes...
Assembling meticulously magnetizing field recordings, found sounds & other fluctuating ingredients into natural new aura-esque sound entities, he succeeds in forging a well as constant source of amazement... Those recreated environments speak clearly further, owning an unutterable beauty, but most of all, they possess a strong power of evocation, a psychoactive essence...
His MS manifesto could well be his magnum opus to date...

In full deliquescence, elements disintegrate
corroded through the night...
Bubbling under, a myriad of stars,
and as many tiny resonances & chisellings
conjure up a world of boundless possibilities...
An ear to the ground, in the air, within the stream,
sensory close-ups,
auscultating the very heart of the matter...

Everything is abrasion, passage of time

"Dispossession of Periphery" blows out the sidelights
encouraging a deep sinking,
a tactile ceremony from which one can only come out grown in wisdom,
and expanded in perception...


01. giant empty iron logos
02. porcelain hull
03. of childhood din
04. pallid lantern
05. a clearer firmamental blue




VITAL WEEKLY 711|Frans De Waard   
One of the rising stars of field recordings and microsound is James McDougall. He has already quite a number of releases, under the guise of Entia Non, on labels such as Test Tube, U-Cover, Dataobscura, Resting Bell, and then also under his own name on labels as Compost And Height, Q-tone and recently Ripples. He searches for the most rusty form of field recordings. Either he finds them in the field, or he treats them to sound rusty. I don't know. I do know its hard to tell, but it leads to some great results. Everything is pitched down to the darkest of dark, with all the bass frequencies up front. The 'sea' element that is common with a lot of the releases on Mystery Sea, isn't that much present on this one, although, perhaps, it all sounds a bit sub-aquatic, like being recorded 'under the surface of the water', but without any sea or rain sounds. Scratching the surface of the sea, rather than being part of the CD, I'd say. 'A Clearer Firmamental Blue', the closing piece, has a faint trace of a melody, which is a nice feature - and uncommon for many of the Mystery Sea releases. Excellent release.
vital weekly

A welcome return to WWR for Australian McDougall whose previous appearance had been under his Entia Non pseudonym.  On that occasion he was laying down a tortuously labyrinthine set of processed field recordings.  It was as punishingly intense and unforgiving a listen as music can get without degenerating into tedious noise flailing.  This new release on Mystery Sea continues the themes and strategies laid out in it's forerunner but is a more satisfying mix of tension, distracting ambiences and immersive sound-wrangling.
Being essentially concrete in nature this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but if the slightly more gravely textures are your bag then this will be right up your street.

wonderful wooden reasons

THE WIRE - Issue 317/July 2010 - Outer Limits|Jim Haynes  
This concoction of processed field recordings from Australia's James McDougall is spooky indeed. Industrial rattlings, rusty textures and hisses that seem to harken from some mechanical breathing apparatus punctuate McDougall's constant undercurrent of deep, dark ambience. The sound design is dialled into a psychological horror that seems to split the difference between the clinical discomfort of Robert Ashley's backing track to "Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon" and the ostentatiously morose aesthetics of Lustmord. The work begins in nature, industry and the boundaries between ; but McDougall is more interested in these sounds as a hauntological allegory, made especially evident in the sub-aqueous melodies coming to the surface on the album's final piece, "A Clearer Firmamental Blue".
the wire

TEMPORARY FAULT |Massimo Ricci  
Australian McDougall is also active under the Entia Non moniker, but I had never met his work before listening to this record. It’s a noteworthy opening encounter, the music repeatedly approaching flawlessness (according to this writer’s current disposition, and always exclusively concerning this genre). Like the large majority of the artists working with processed field recordings and ultra-low frequencies, McDougall did not invent a new way of doing things. Still, it is much better when a musician accomplishes an emotionally involving result by utilizing known means as an adjunct to their personal sensibility than attempting to astound the audience via techniques, sounds and tricks that might sound innovative at first, only to reveal an absolute poverty of genuine compositional ideas. The man handles the classic features of unfathomable atmospheres that an authentic, insightful critic would call “organic” – rustling noise, subaqueous shuddering, preternatural reverberations and (especially) throbbing dilations of rumbling emanations – within a precise scheme that allows us to forget about what’s happening around and just enjoy a persuasive cerebral rubdown. Some of these drones possess a “subterranean choir” quality that strikes at various levels of depth, “Porcelain Hull” and “Pallid Lantern” among the favourite episodes in that logic. The matters coming from the real world are so well masked and employed that recognizing them is perceived as a pleasure, not an aggravation. Propagations of vibes that literally ask to be incorporated by our systems, deployed with artful intelligence.
temporary fault