Slavek Kwi / Artificial Memory Trace: Collection 5

Collection 5 is a rather enigmatic recording, even by Gruenrekorder standards. It's the latest in an ongoing series of field recordings-based releases from the label, each one of which arrives in a silver case accompanied by a modicum of information. This particular one is the brainchild of sound artist Slavek Kwi, who was born in Czechoslovakia (as it was then known) and since 2000 has been based in Ireland, and has operated under the name Artificial Memory Trace since the early ‘90s and issued a dozen albums. Part of his current work involves experimental sound workshops with autistic children and those with learning disabilities.

The liner notes of Collection 5 reveal that “(a)ll particles of reality [were] recorded and created by Slavek Kwi in various dimensions of time-like-space” and that no additional information—aside from the words “Perception. No cognition. Listen.”—is available for the edition. Not surprisingly, then, Kwi's primary focus is upon perceptual phenomena and how it determines one's experience of reality; he also seemingly encourages the listener to experience the material as pure sound rather than get bogged down in over-analyzing it and sussing out its origins. The recording itself is an embarrassment of riches in sonic terms, with Kwi integrating into its eighty-minute running time all manner of sound, be it animal-, machine-, and/or human-generated. Though it's occasionally challenging to identify the sounds, there's little doubt Kwi's drawn upon a multitude of sonic phenomena (much of it derived from site-specific recordings) for the recording's thirty-two untitled tracks, twenty-one of which are under the three-minute mark. Glitchy electronic noises, door slams, monkey howls, electric saws, buzzing insects, bird caws, amazon rain forest chatter, and a cornucopia of other sounds are stitched together into an endlessly mutating electroacoustic sound-painting that's travelogue-like yet also fairly regulated, making for a ride that's admittedly long and obviously scenic but also generally smooth. In this case, the ideal listeners would be those who prefer their collages parked midway between determinacy and indeterminacy.

April 2011