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alm 87
artificial memory trace

(for jerome noetinger)
31 may 2012

created by slavek kwi, ireland during july-sept 2011 from physical and stridulation sounds of various invertebrates: termites, ants, sting-less bees, leaf-hoppers (amazonas, brazil 2008-2009); electric insect (pantanal, brazil 2006 + tasmania 2011); hermit crabs (amhemland, australia 2009); bee-hive (czechie 1994).
all sounds rec. by kwi except ants inside tree-nest rec. with francisco lopez (thanks!)
this is a commision from "les instants chavirés" (montreuil, france) for "l'audible festival" 2011
photography : kwi


active since the early 90's, czech composer slavek kwi is considered as a master for field recordings and electroacoustic music. this piece, dedicated to metamkine's boss jerome noetinger, was commissioned for "l'audible festival" which took place at "les instants chavirés" near paris, france, in 2011. based upon various selected insect recordings made between 1994 and 2011, "chitin" will not disappoint fans of precise and carefully composed field recordings based piece.


tracklisting :
1. chitin



reviews :

Vital Weekly 839
Hot on the heels of the previous three (see Vital Weekly 837), another trio of 3"CDR releases. [...]
The biggest surprise is the piece by Artificial Memory Trace, also known as Slawek Kwi, which is hardly a drone/ambient piece, but a collage of field recordings - very much like we are used from him. Here to things build up slowly, but in a much more collage like manner, with sounds dropping in and out of the mix, until it reaches a continuous sound and things go on for some time. A fine of what seems to me pure field recordings. Not a surprise for Slawek Kwi, since this is 'just' another great work from him, but quite a surprise for Taalem to release it. It may seem off the path they have been taking for such a long time, but perhaps it all makes great sense. (FdW)

A Closer Listen
Here’s some really great music for the Grissoms and other budding entomologists, as well as for students of insect symphonies.  Slavek Kwi (artificial memory trace) has produced a remarkable sonic document in chitin, originally commissioned for France’s 2011 “l’audible festival”.  The sheer wealth of sources on display is nearly overwhelming: termites, leaf-hoppers, electric insects and many more, whose sounds were collected on excursions to Australia, Brazil and the Amazon.  Francisco Lopez even contributes some bee-sounds.  The crunchiest sounds may be those of hermit crabs, but who knows?  Suffice it to say that these creatures do not play well together, but Kwi creates a virtual concourse in which they can interact without venom.
Similarly remarkable is the proximity of these timbres to those of drone and glitch.  While listening to chitin, it’s easy to theorize that the genesis of each genre rested in fields and swamps, in long, hot summers and the curious sounds of the natural and hungry insect world.  The 1971 science fiction documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle posited a planet in which the insect life ran amuck, unchecked by pesticide and scavenger intervention; in days, the human race was gone.  Even more frightening than the images were the ravaging sounds: hordes of maws and pincers, unfeeling and unrelenting.  chitin possesses a bit of that warning; the attention necessary to develop such a recording, to shape its sharp edges into an antennaed structure, is also a plea to live in harmony with the natural world, rather than to attempt to eradicate its annoying denizens for no other reason than to increase our immediate comfort.
And shape Kwi does, from the speaker-to-speaker introductory clicks to the amplified rubbing of feelers, from swift buzzes to inner hives, from near-silence to the sound of swarms.  At times, he turns his sources on and off like musical notes; at other times, he allows them to unspool like single-instrument solos, or in the busiest segments, like choirs.  These are the sort of sounds most people seek to avoid, to snuff out or to spray, but Kwi gives them their due.  When the bees arrive en masse at the midway point, they bring to mind the plagues of the apocalypse, but with an awful beauty.
Not every soundscape is meant to be benign.  There are only so many recordings of oceans and birds that one can take without getting bored and wandering outside to hear the real thing.  chitin stands out because it does more than simply present a host of carefully-arranged field recordings; it exposes our own prejudices, pre-conceptions and animosities.  Sure, we love nature, we say, except for the bugs.  The lovingly compiled  chitin is good enough to begin changing our minds.  (Richard Allen)