Shane Fahey: The Slated Pines
Endgame Records

In The Slated Pines, sound artist and sound engineer Shane Fahey has produced a stellar experimental soundscape collection that inhabits a multi-lingual zone wherein field recordings, analogue synths, tape loops, acoustic feedback systems, and assorted treatments co-exist, if not always peacefully. No newcomer, Fahey initially gained attention as a member of The Makers of the Dead Travel Fast in the early ‘80s before moving into ambient territory with a series of albums in the ‘90s. Currently, he operates as a recording artist, sound engineer, and producer at his own studio, Megaphon. Drawing upon his extensive knowledge of production methodologies, he created The Slated Pines by applying “old school film post-production techniques” to the project, specifically by having all of its effects mixed on separate channels on a two-inch tape machine.

The recording opens auspiciously with “Grains for Tramp,” an unsettled and at times abrasive soundscape assembled from natural field sounds and electronic treatments. In the ten-minute overture, hydraulic rhythms butt up against cacophanous smears and ripples of nightmarish hiss, sputter, and fuzz, after which “Mis_Spotter,” a purer field recordings setting, appears where again the wheezing clatter and scrape of machinery mingle with sounds of the natural environment. If “Mis_Spotter” is largely earth-bound in its sound design, the far trippier “Get Some Out Time,” a seeming sound portrait of the churn at the center of a black hole, is situated light years away in some distant galaxy; a model of concision, the six-minute piece finds whirring analog synthesizers spiraling through the upper reaches while sonar blips suggest transmissions from alien life forms. Liberally mixing orchestral elements, field textures, and bold voice manipulations into a woozy, shape-shifting whole, Fahey brings a more collage-oriented approach to “Book of Trees”; “Indo Dome,” by comparison, could be described as a plunge into sub-lunar microscaping.

A small circle of guests contributes a diverse palette of sounds to the project (Jamie Fielding, for instance, is credited with “rolling 44-gallon drums” and “crunched fluoro light tubes,” while Miss Siu is responsible for “non-consonant vocalisations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead”). In addition, a recording of Antarctic seals finds its way into the album, as does a field recording of “the counterweight residential London elevator”—in short, Fahey draws from a wealth of sound in the production of the album's arresting and unpredictable settings.

November 2009