Cory Allen: Hearing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Hears
Quiet Design

Hearing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Hears by Austin-based avant-garde composer and Quiet Design Records owner Cory Allen arrives with some modest degree of supporting background detail. It's classified as a minimalist work that's based on the philosophy of artist Robert Irwin and whose focus is on “the invocation of pure aural sensation.” The non-generative compositional approach Allen brings to the recording's five pieces gives them an open-ended and organic sense of development and consequently the crystalline sounds locate themselves midway between stasis and movement. Produced from computer algorithms, processed electronic sounds, sine tones, and raw CPU data, the recording's forty-four minutes prove to be both soothing and diverting, the kind of peaceful material that's equally capable of entrancing the attentive listener or functioning as environmental tinting. Throughout the release, bright bell and organ tones reverberate in seemingly random though not displeasing manner, much like unpredictable patterns produced by outdoor wind chimes. Allen nicely complements the musical content with a two-colour, twelve-page booklet whose images of overlapping circles offer a deft analogue to the abstract simplicity of the sound modules. The album title's well-chosen too, as it captures the paradoxical dimension of Allen's static-motion material, which seems tailor-made to repeat in a constant loop for hours on end.

January 2010