Mark Fell: Attack On Silence

Attack on Silence is an audio-visual project by British media provocateur Mark Fell (aka one-half of .snd) that merges aspects of experimental electronic music, sound art, and computer-generated visuals into a tripartite whole. Recorded at The Music Research Centre at the University of York in the UK and at the .snd studio in Sheffield, the work offers a highly-stylized, “synaesthetic” exercise in audio-visual synchronicity where all sound designs (available to be heard in both stereo and Dolby 5.1 formats) are mirrored by abstract colour and shape displays of minimal design.

A mere two minutes in duration, the first part pairs a roller-coaster ride of sonic descent and ascent with rapidly morphing horizontal bands of colour gradations. The sixteen-minute middle piece displays geometric 8 x 8 pixel grids with value gradations shown in incremental steps against a dark grey base. The intermittent shifts that punctuate the wavering electrical tones are synchronized to colour shifts, with bell-like tones matched to colour changes in two diagonally-positioned squares; the grids reverse and adjust in tandem with the flickering tones, percussive pitter-patter, and high-speed martial rolls. Attack on Silence's most extreme section arrives with the thirty-nine minute third section where slowly and abruptly mutating colour fields match up with reverberations whose rhythmically resonating tones slowly ascend in pitch, creating an almost unbearable tension during the climb. Colours subtly spread and bleed into others as they undergo transformation. In one episode, a white horizontal band, initially shown with a thin black vertical at the center and yellow bleeding off on both sides, turns grey and the constricting black bar changes to violet as the two-tiered sine tones wind both up and down.

Admittedly, the highly-stylized Attack on Silence is restricted in the range of its visual and audio materials yet its visually rich display does prove hypnotic and, though its most natural presentation is as a gallery installation, having it on DVD allows the gallery to be brought into one's home and experienced at one's convenience. Bolstered by impeccable production values and deluxe presentation, the release is hardly a mass-appeal item though certainly complements Line's catalogue of austere minimalist works.

January 2009