Barreca | Leimer: Field Characteristics
Field Characteristics might very possibly be the most detail-intensive recording issued to date on Kerry Leimer's Palace of Lights, despite the fact that the instrumentation credited to collaborators Leimer and Marc Barreca isn't inordinately long when stacked up against comparative releases in the experimental electro-acoustic field. If anything, sound materials such as analog and digital synthesis, samples, treatments, signal reprocessing, electric guitar and bass, percussion, and prepared piano—the sum-total of gear used by the duo on the recording (along with guitars by Tyler Boley)—are pretty much par for the course when it comes to recordings of this kind.
What separates Field Characteristics from others, however, in its genre field is that the audio for its eight settings “originated from hundreds [italics mine] of independently recorded digital, electric, acoustic, and found sounds [that then] were edited, layered, and reprocessed with Pro Tools and Ableton Live.” Adding to the special character of the project is the fact that the CD's content derives in part from a November 2014 performance the duo gave in Seattle, Washington, which then was subjected to further refinement for the hour-long recording.
The project's tone is established at the outset by “Esker,” which, like much of what follows, packs a heady amount of incident into its rapidly flickering micro-sound universe. Speckled with guitars, sitars, percussion, and electronics, the piece plays like a brief, raga-styled meeting of the spirits between electronic artists and Indian musicians. Some of the album material, not surprisingly, adheres to the established tropes of the experimental electro-acoustic genre. Yet even when it does, moments of sonic surprise arise to catch one's ear, as occurs during “Sere” when the high-pitched flourish of a violin appears amidst the textural flow and when “Eyot” begins with a scrabbly blend of strings and electronic treatments.
The sheer density of sound presented in representative settings such as “Loess,” “Talus,” and “Oram” is incredible, and one comes away from Field Characteristics convinced that the aforementioned claim regarding the hundreds of sounds involved in the recording's presentation is clearly fact, not hyperbole.