Samarkande/Oblivion Ensemble: Fondation.02/i fall, sound[in]g her dream
Static Signals/Samarkande Records

In commemoration of their joint concerts in Rochester and Montreal during Jan 2007, Samarkande and Oblivion Ensemble gave audience members this split-CDR as a special gift. Static Signals and Samarkande Records have granted non-attendees the opportunity to hear the kind of music-making that transpired by issuing representative pieces that constitute a compelling half-hour.

Using classic analog gear (Mellotron, Moog, Hammond organ) and digital equipment, Samarkande (Montreal-based Eric Fillion and Sylvain Lamirande) generates dark slabs of amorphous sound, with “Fondation.02” a striking example of its style. Apparently, part of the drone originated from a washing machine mixed through a Micro-Moog though nothing as recognizable as a rinse cycle is heard; as with all such idiosyncratic sound sources, the creators effect such radical transformations upon them that identifying traces of the original source disappear. The most appealing aspect of the fourteen-minute piece is its shifts in mood: though it starts out as a prototypically ominous drone, it enters sunnier and more peaceful territory midway through before returning to a disorienting zone dominated by whispered voices and sweeping tones.

Oblivion Ensemble's (guitarist Brannon Hungness and keyboardist John Bergstrom) “i fall, sound[in]g her dream” documents three improvisations recorded in May 2004. Oblivion Ensemble's sound is more electroacoustic in design than Samarkande's but the groups are alike in their commitment to long-form, hallucinatory soundscaping. In “i fall, sound[in]g her dream,” samples and loops merge into an unpredictable, even nightmarish, free-flowing mass that's more episodic than “Fondation.02.” Hungness and Bergstrom deepen their piece's psychotic character by including orchestral percussion (bells, cymbals, gongs), field samples (a crumpled sheet of paper, an egg dropped into a hot frying pan), and recitations performed by Bergstrom and vocalist Joyce Chirachinda.

May 2007