Review: Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard – SOUND X SOUND-MUSIC FOR 8 RECORDERS

NLL_SxS_CoverAt points during Music For 8 Recorders, I jolt back into consciousness. It’s so easy to forget that I’m listening exclusively to a woodwind instrument; the tone is so pure and breathless, verging on electronic in its clinical, perfectly rounded timbral shape, concealing the very organic act of expelling air through a tube. The recorder sounds as effortless as water. I listen intensely enough that the context and origin of the record often recede, replaced by whatever mental imagery decides to drape itself over the sound.

In the case of the “Soprano Recorder” piece, I imagine a circuit board of bizarre, spaghetti-esque connections, pulsing and buzzing as electricity passes across the jumble of intersecting wires. It babbles with strange, feral artificial life; the recorders ramble senselessly without an jot of melodic recognition, occasionally striking me as the overcrowded dawn chorus of a biomechanical universe. “Alto Recorder” is warmer like the audio translation of bubbles forced through Jacuzzi water, pulsating asynchronously to form a quivering and soft whole. Again, the sound soon starts to feel synthetic: a room full of digital alarm clocks straining their songs out from the energy of dying batteries, the tone wobbling and threatening to die.

The objective of SOUND X SOUND is to use the multiplication of a particular sound to estrange it from its original source. It’s an idea not too dissimilar from that of Alvin Lucier, who continuously recycled a recording of his own voice in a room, playing the recording back and capturing it over and over again, until language dissolved into a sheer throb of syllabic rhythm. Here, however, Løkkegaard retains the option of zeroing my listening upon one particular recorder, momentarily re-connecting the sound to thoughts of human lips pursed firmly around a mouthpiece, before the distracting of the surrounding commotion sweeps me into abstraction again.