Sceneries from the Castellated Wall Yasuhiro Morinaga

cat: gal 0020
date: jun 21 2012
time: 27:57

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SCENERIES FROM THE CASTELLATED WALL At the second official release,  Galaverna’ catalogue is enriched by the contribution from Japanese sound designer Yasuhiro Morinaga, a former pupil of Michel Chion and so far active in the musique concréte. The work presents a little pastiche of three episodes based on the field-recordings made in Italy and Northern Ireland throughout 2010 and 2011.

The opening track, For “La Donnaccia“, is a tribute to a little gem of neo-realism, the eponymous film directed by Silvio Siano, which tells of the hard life, the superstitions and rituals of the small community of Cairano, a village perched on a rock as suspended in the air, in the abstract and distant lands of Irpinia. Parade tells of Morinaga’s journey in the popular music of Celtic tradition in the area of Londonderry: on the captured concrete sounds seems to fall a dark blanket, like a deserted heath swept by a wind full with fog. The last track, Ear of Dionysius, is dedicated to a sound experience had by the author in the famous cave known as the Orecchio di Dionisio in Siracusa, on the occasion of a short artist residency with Domenico Sciajno: the heavy resonances of the track incipit are superimposed by a gradually increasing rhythm that leads to a surprising techno oriented ending-loop.

With “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall”, Morinaga manages to combine three different strands of his work: concrete music, ambient and sound design, releasing a work in which – despite the short breath – the echoes of the intense experiences of places and soundscapes experienced by Japanese musician in the last years is unmistakable.

Notes Yasuhiro Morinaga is a Japanese Sound Designer & Sound Archivist. “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall” is a work based on the location sounds. Through the post-production, these location sounds are treated electronically.

1: For “La Donnaccia” [Recording Materials from Irpinia, Italy 2010-2011]
2: Parade [Recording Materials from Londonderry, Northern Ireland 2009]
3: Ear of Dionysius [Recording Materials from the Artificial Limestone Cave, Ear of Dionysius, in Syracusa, Sicilia Island 2011]

Thanks to: Leandro Pisano, Enrico Coniglio, Antonio Izzo, Antonello Carbone, Domenico Sciajno, Roll Multimedia, Izzo Family, Masaki Fujihata, Ars Associazione Siciliana per la Musica da Camera.
Recommendations: These works would affect your listening experience better with the headphones.

Mastering by Tripi H. Studio.

Creative Commons License
Sceneries from the Castellated Wall by Yasuhiro Morinaga is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.galaverna.org.

REVIEWS

ROCKERILLA

Galaverna è solo alla sua seconda uscita ma si sta imponendo come punto di riferimento per coloro, e sono sempre più numerosi, che abitano quell’universo parallelo rappresentato dal field-recording con le sue varie derivazioni sperimentali. L’operazione fondamentale della registrazione avviene nei posti più disparati, nella fattispecie le tre tracce provengono da registrazioni effettuate in Irpinia, Irlanda e Siracusa ad opera di Yasuhiro Morinaga, sound-designer giapponese di formazione ‘colta’ con un bagage stilistico che va dalla musica concreta all’ambient passando attraverso tutto un percorso di sperimentazione. Una lettura di estremo interesse anche se non semplice, che trova concretezza nell’ascolto supportato da cuffie e da una certa preparazione. [Mirco Salvadori]

THE FIELD REPORTER

Using words to describe sound can often be anathema to the emotional experience of listening, our reactions to sound existing beyond the mental processes used by our everyday lexicon. This fact is clear when listening to “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall”, a sonic tribute to imagined landscapes and time by Japanese sound designer Yasuhiro Morinaga. Implementing field recordings from the streets of Ireland and Sicily’s Ear of Dionysius Morinaga effectively uses sound to build territories both real and mythological, from the past and present, in what could be considered one of the most intriguing releases of 2012. “For La Donnaccia”, the first of three tracks, is Morinaga’s homage to a little known film of the same name by Silvio Siano. The film, set in a village suspended in air, is ripe for sonic exploration. A faint ethereal drone is juxtaposed with the quiet rural sounds of cowbells, birds, sheep and cattle, allowing the listener’s imagination to run free. Morinaga’s village is as serene as the air in which it floats, an Arcadian scene that is difficult to leave behind. The deceptively simple use of field recordings in this track illustrate the power of sound in creating imaginative landscapes in which we might all wish to reside. To Morinaga’s credit his composition complements Siano’s film without foregoing his own aesthetic. “Parade”, the second and longest track, moves to a more concrete world. By modifying field recordings taken in Londonderry Morinaga constructs an imagined landscape from the sounds of this real city. Smooth waves of processed sounds create an atmosphere reminiscent of a city late at night, the streets desolate and thick with fog. As the track nears its end recordings of birds and a female voice briefly appear, bringing a more ambient edge to the soundscape. This section serves as a bridge to the more electronic beats which bring the track to a close. The final track, “Ear of Dionysius”, uses various techniques of sound design to present a moment Morinaga experienced within this natural acoustic chamber. The Ear of Dionysius, a limestone cave on the island of Sicily, is shaped in the form of a human ear. The acoustics in its space are said to be so acute that political dissidents were held there under the reign of Dionysius I (432-367 BC) in order to monitor their whispered conspiracies. The acoustics were also said to carry the screams of the tortured prisoners throughout the cave. Enveloped in these ancient stories Morinaga’s choice of subject neatly fits within his exploration of real and mythological spaces, bringing “Sceneries from a Castellated Wall” to a perfect end. There is something romantic and whimsical about “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall”, yet the mastery of Morinaga’s work is completely solid. At no point does the tension of each composition waver. Morinaga’s background in film has honed his skills in projecting images through sound, an admirable feat and one that has set a precedent to future sound designers. “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall” is the second official release from the new Galaverna catalogue, a valuable addition to the world of field recording and sound design. [Jay Dea Lopez]

BEACH SLOT

 Yasuhiro Morinaga’s three pieces have a tremendous sense of calm. The field recordings here are warm and friendly. A few times Yasuhiro appears to have fun with the animal sounds. You hear lambs, cows, and birds from far away. Occasionally the volume is such that it nearly jars you out of the beautiful shimmering tones. This is out of humor more than anything else. Both the well-textured drones and field recordings work to ease you into a sense of the pastoral. All three pieces are decidedly rural. Few snippets exist of any city scape, or even much of humanity. We hear clips of children (in the second and third tracks) but that’s it. The first piece is almost entirely of field recordings, some machine coming from far away, very lightly treated. Only at the end does a glimmer of Yasuhiro’s handiwork break through the mellowness of the work. ‘Parade’ is the most intense of the three pieces. It remains mostly calm. Noises essentially warn the listener of the breakdown in this otherwise calm release. An actual rhythm is played over the increasing intensity of the sounds. This is as close as Yasuhiro gets to an industrial sound. In ‘Ear of Dionysius’ the track comes closest to an actual dance track. This is an unusual release. I like the movement from nature into a more artificial and digital landscape as the EP progresses. At the very end we hear the treated samples of kids in an echo chamber. It is weird yet reminds us of the fun Yasuhiro clearly had putting this together.

A CLOSER LISTEN

The Galaverna netlabel continues to shine with its latest release, another gem that straddles the edge between genres. This release is the work of Japanese sound artist Yasuhiro Morinaga, who presents the results of travels in Ireland and Italy, cloaks them in unexpected sheets and connects them to history. Before knowing the background, “For ‘La Donnaccia” is an immensely appealing drone farm piece (perhaps a new genre waiting to be invented). Sure, we’ve got birds, cows, and a milk pail, but we’ve also got the sound of a braying donkey. Having just seen one of these things last week on a trip to Pennsylvania, I can attest that they are quite obnoxious at first, but also amusing, so non-ingratiating their cries. The clarity of the recording is intense. A forester downs a tree; the avian populace protests. A soft drone nibbles on the background while the more domesticated animals claim the foreground. In the end, it’s just the drone. The piece becomes more surreal when one learns that it is based on a short film chronicling the lives of villagers suspended on a floating rock; now everything makes sense except the chainsaw, which seems a bit anachronistic. The middle piece, “Parade”, has naught to do with an actual parade, being instead a route of passage along Londonderry. As a glistening drone, it seems at first to lack the immediacy of the prior track. For the first half, it’s all darkness, but in the middle of the piece, the birds return, as if sensing that the path is safe once again. Then some stomping people frighten them off with trots and instructions, disrupting the natural landscape; but they in turn are scared off by some very loud buzzes and bass tones. This comes as a welcome surprise, because at this point in the album, it’s safe to say that no one is expecting percussion. And yet here it is: another side to the performer, gracefully applied. By “Ear of Dionysius”, all bets are off. This short piece, recorded in the Artificial Limestone Cave of Sicilia Island, is echoes and crunch at the start, and techno at the end. What in the world is going on? Apparently the artist has found a way to combine experience with impression, enabling his listeners to hear first the actual sounds, then their emotional effects. Some whoopin’ and hollarin’ in the cave indicates that someone was having a lot of fun; hopefully Morinaga was included in the experience, because Scenes from a Castellated Wall is indeed great fun, a lot like wandering into new locations with good friends and high hopes and being rewarded with a unique adventure. [Richard Allen]