The kind of sound landscapes featured... provoke the listener to think outside the tonal box within which most of us have been listening to music most of our lives. Our responses then come in succession: Is this music? If the answer is negative is our response in and of itself a negative one? Then follows: what is it, what can we call it? What is the function of these sonic-electronic-experimental-exploratory-electroacoustic compositions? May we call them compositions? Must we affix labels to these works for us to better understand them?
As we try to respond to these questions in a fair-minded way, we find ourselves entering the realm of philosophy and, if not casting aside, at least setting aside our music critic hat. My gut feeling is first to just shut up and listen and give up preconceptions and expectations.
As I listened to the bucolic Morning Meditation and the equally lovely A Day at the Beach and the ostinato of David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill’s Rivière, followed by the unsettling Dark Angel to then segue to the welcoming calm of the six-minute-long Coda I realized I had been listening to the five soundscapes in SIGNALS for nearly one hour.
These works should certainly be permitted to stand on their own, with no need for one to assign. I found no cacophony, for all traditional concepts of melody, harmony and counterpoint were dispensed with, so that I found none of the tug-of-war between consonance and dissonance. I still found many moments to which I could attach qualities that we associate with sounds: unnerving, jittery, soothing, disturbing, pleasant. And then I asked myself if provoking a response is not the core function of organized sound.
Assuming what long hours or inspiration and perspiration went into the creation of SIGNALS... I followed my listener’s instincts and just listened.
Rafael de Acha
LAWSON & MERRILL/Signals: Electroacoustic soundscapers, this pair takes you on a space odyssey of another sort. Not drone, not ambient but at times most closest to ‘om’ it’s almost like progressive meditation music for meditation on Mars.
PLUGGED IN SOUNDS..Lawson & Merrill: Signals
A meeting of electronic minds takes place between David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill on this collection of five modular musings.
Inspired by the likes of Morton Subotnick, Edgard Varese and Steve Reich, the two create a kind of Tangerine Dreamlike tapestry on the soundscape of the 16 minute “Morning Meditation” , while soft puffy clouds float on the fluffy “A Day At The Beach” while the atmosphere turns to dark and ominous Nimbus warnings on “Dark Angel”. There’s a kind of Indonesian marimba on the static pulsed “Rivière” that reverberates for 10 minutes, with celestially synthesized voices giving an electronic ethereal quality to “Coda”. Diodes and cathodes of meditation.
George W. Harris