szilárd: Rust Parhelion
Piano Vert and Rust Parhelion are the follow-up projects to Jeremy Young's inaugural szilárd project, 2011's Spokes, a “conceptual tone-cycle” that strikingly combined spoken word passages (the text taken from Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal), field recordings, guitar, piano, and sine and square sound waves. The latest works are striking, too, though slightly different in kind from the debut. Piano Vert and Rust Parhelion are installments in szilárd's “colourpalette” loop series, with the former obviously piano-based and the latter constructions assembled from field recordings and electric guitar.
The first in the loop series, Piano Vert is also the purest of the three. Issued as a three-inch CD-R disc and in a limited edition of 100, the work, conceived as an installation piece, features piano exclusively and uses three concentric tape loops (eight, nine, and ten feet long) to generate its glimmering sound-world. In simplest terms, three short piano patterns were cut into loops and played back simultaneously with minor live adjustments. Resounding within a reverb-laden space, the patterns collectively shimmer in a way that makes the material sound fuller and denser than three layers of overlapping piano patterns might naturally sound. Peaks and valleys are absent, and Piano Vert doesn't follow a narrative arc that eventually culminates in a climax. Instead, the brooding rumination hews to a consistently steady pitch in a way that aligns it with the ambient genre. Strip away a layer or two and Piano Vert would start to resemble a newly discovered Harold Budd-Eno collaboration from years ago.
Though Rust Parhelion perpetuates the loop series concept, the C45 cassette's side-length pieces are worlds removed, sonically speaking, from Piano Vert. Again available in a limited edition of 100 copies, Rust Parhelion uses two guitar and four field recordings loops as source materials for each of its pieces. Because the content is less noticeably repetitive—the field recordings especially—than in the piano piece, Rust Parhelion plays less like a loop-based ambient work and more like a set of free-flowing soundscapes. That turns out to be somewhat of an illusion: though an impression of forward development is created when loops of varying length are set in motion, all of the elements included actually adhere to cyclical repetition (said sleight-of-hand helps account for the work's title, given that Parhelia are phantom images of the sun).
In “Parhelion Loop Suite, Chapter One: Rust,” plaintive electric guitar shadings intone against an agitated backdrop of real-world noises, both industrial and people-based, during the opening part; the intensity level gradually diminishes as the piece unfolds such that during the closing minutes the guitars are heard more clearly against a nature-based backdrop of insistent insect hum. Similar to its partner, “Parhelion Loop Suite, Chapter Two: Saffron” pairs loud noises of traffic, voices, and clatter (the rapid and restless flow of sound conjures the image of a busy restaurant kitchen) with electric guitar playing, and again the sombre tone of the guitar playing acts as a dramatic counterpoint to an incessant flow of background activity that ultimately grows more subdued.Given that all three are part of the same series and add up to an hour of material, Piano Vert and Rust Parhelion conceivably could have been presented together on a single CD. Having said that, the different formats help emphasize the distinctive qualities of the respective projects. Issued on his own Palaver Press, the sound and text publishing company Young operates with his wife Catherine Métayer, the two releases make for fine additions to the nascent szilárd catalogue.