Anaphoria: Footpaths and Trade Routes

Blindhæð: Whether That Will Make People Want to Become Archeologists, We'll Have to See

In 2008, ini.itu inaugurated its label with a single-sided LP containing a twenty-minute, micro-sound excursion by Blindhæð (Blindhaed, if it's easier), an outfit that took its name, which roughly translates as “blind spot,” from the Icelandic language (the letters æ and ð are unique to it). That the release is saddled with the unweildy title Whether that will make people want to become archeologists, we'll have to see suggests that the creators responsible for the material aren't averse to allowing a dash of wry humour into the proceedings. Constructed from layers of natural sounds that were subjected to analog and digital manipulations (“distortions and erosions,” specifically), the piece itself feels like a journey across frozen tundra—bell tones pierce the brittle air, cavernous rumbles swell in volume, assorted creatures chatter, and distant planes fly overhead—in a way that may remind listeners of the work of Asmus Tietchens or Steve Roden. Transitions through multiple low-level episodes occur organically, and the listener's attention seldom wanes as the piece moves through terrain that seems alternately welcoming and threatening.

Footpaths and Trade Routes contains three pieces by Australian resident Kraig Grady, who operates under the name Anaphoria and who David Toop has characterized as an ‘Ethnographic Surrealist.' Grady named himself after the island of Anaphoria which he ‘discovered' in the mid-‘90s and of which he is now a citizen (and also, ahem, responsible for the Austronesian Outpost of Anaphoria and the Office of Cultural Liaisons); that said discovery allowed him to make use of a “visionary geographic” inner space suggests that the locale is, one guesses, imaginary. Influenced by the likes of Stockhausen, Harry Partch, and microtonalism pioneer Erv Wilson, Grady assembles his own custom-built metallophones, marimbas, hammered dulcimers, and reed organs into ensembles. The three pieces on his forty-two-minute album, however, include two solo compositions in addition to one assembled from multiple ensemble takes (the album's material is said to have been “collected in conjunction with the Center of Alphabetical Sequencing”). With the sound palette often reduced to reverberant mallet tones, the material is obviously minimal and austere in design and reminiscent of gamelan music—especially side A's second piece, “Hierophone A341,” which expands atmospherically upon the first piece, “Zephyros,” in its incorporation of thick background tones. Though still retaining a gamelan residue, side B's “Ostaelo” is more clanguorous and thus suggestive of bell chimes emanating from a town's central tower, neverthless, its peaceful, unhurried meander proves soothing, just as it does in the other pieces.

December 2009