R. Schwarz: Wind 1-3
Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere.

Vienna-based sound artist Robert Schwarz follows up his macabre The Scale Of Things with an equally imaginative collection for Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere. Don't let the release's rather prosaic title fool you: Wind 1-3, apparently the first chapter of an upcoming series, is every bit a head-turner as that earlier Gruenrekorder set. By design, it also could be seen as something of a continuation of the explorations conducted on The Scale Of Things, specifically in the way Schwarz sensitizes the listener to details within nature one might otherwise overlook.

On this twenty-six-minute release, Schwarz, a graduate of the Vienna University of Technology and Berlin University of the Arts who's been the recipient of international awards and has presented installation works at museums and festivals throughout Europe, works with wind sounds he captured on the island of La Gomera during the winter of 2015. Certainly identifying evidence of the nature sound is audible on the three settings, but Schwarz also radically alchemizes the base material until it loosens its tie to any single sound element. Left untitled, “Wind 1,” for example, could conceivably be construed as sound material sourced from a low-flying plane or knocking of a docked ship; regardless of the interpretation generated, the soundworld is murky, lugubrious, and vaguely hallucinatory. It's hardly static, either: the dense mass mutates without pause, growing increasingly nightmarish as it segues from the first part into the groaning second. Accompanied by the omnipresent howl of winds, industrial masses convulse and subterranean tones rumble threateningly.

The thirteen-minute “Wind 3” opens at a less harrowing pitch, enabling the listener to more easily hear the winds' controlled swirl, but as one might expect things gradually change and the intensity escalates. A thick cloud of industrial noise blankets everything, though not so completely that individual elements, muffled bell tones and crackling nature sounds among them, can't push their way to the surface. On purely listening terms, the settings on Wind 1-3 ultimately identify as engrossing soundscapes more than anything else.

September 2016