Clinker: On the Other Side...(for L. Cohen)
Dragon's Eye Recordings

Tired of endless covers of Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah”? Those of the more experimentally-minded persuasion should treat themselves to On the Other Side... (for L. Cohen), a fascinating homage to the Canadian poet by sound artist Gary James Joynes (aka Clinker). Certainly the soundscape, which originated as a live cinema performance commissioned by the 2008 Leonard Cohen International Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, is unlike anything else the Cohen devotee might have been exposed to. Using analog synthesis and processing, Joynes created the uninterrupted, forty-two-minute ambient drone by stretching the bass tones of Cohen's voice into endlessly long trails and augmenting them with layers of his own voice. Uncannily suggestive of snoring, the low register of Cohen's voice punctuates Joynes's soothing, high-pitched tendrils in a manner that only intensifies the work's already-dreamlike character. True to drone form, there's slow-motion ebb and flow, occasional pulsation, plus harmonic shifts so gradual they verge on imperceptible, and all of it's executed with precision-point control. Halfway through, Cohen's frog-like tones vanish, only to re-surface minutes later like foghorns piercing mist. During the work's final quarter, the choir-like voices call to mind both Gregorian chant and Tuvan throat singing before vanishing a final time and ceding the stage to a shimmering drone. Apparently, Joynes' live presentations explore the synaesthetic effects of visuals and sound but On the Other Side... (for L. Cohen) is more than capable of producing synaesthesia in an audio format alone.

March 2009