my own thousand shatterings, sedimental records

from the label press release:

“My Own Thousand Shatterings is a one hour and fifteen minute composition consisting of three sections. It is a document of my obsession with rain, though it may not be immediately apparent as to how. I love how rain varies infinitely, how the totality of it is a drone, how (much like white-noise) when it reverberates in our architecture, it pulls pitches out of the air. I love how thunder dwarfs the sound of everything for a moment, and how its sustained echo rolls spatially around us. The third piece is a stereo field recording, the second is a stereo documentation of a performance, the first was recorded in a studio to a mono reel-to-reel. The pitches for the first and second pieces came mostly from the rain of the third piece being played back in the resonance of my home, the speed of change in the first two pieces comes from my obsession with geological data about the Kutiah glacial surge that happened in Pakistan where a glacier decided to move twelve kilometers in two months. That is a very fast slow. The second piece is paced in performance by my memory of the data, the first piece is paced by my memory of the pace of the performance of the second piece. The combined pitches that came about by improvising with the frequencies originating in the field recording were then used to gently filter the field recording itself in the third piece.”


“When I popped in Seth Cluett’s latest CD ‘My Own Thousand Shatterings’ and sank deep inside his immersive drone pieces, that is the first two on this CD, I thought I was merely listening to the hum of some synthesizer with some slow changes throughout. The third piece sounded like a field recordings of rain. After thinking ‘wow, that was a nice CD of drone music’, I began reading the press text for it, and learned that the third piece is indeed a field recording, of rain to be precise, and that the second is a documentation of a performance and the first is a mono piece recorded at home, but that the first two are based on the field recordings of the third piece. How it works exactly we are not told (certainly not on the cover of the CD), but this is certainly a worthwhile thing for lovers of drone music. Up until now, Cluett worked mostly with densely layered small acoustic sounds, and this new CD sees him breaking away from that, going into an even more minimal and microscopic level of sound. Perhaps this is a much simpler approach, or maybe even more ‘easy’ to produce work, but I’d say that doesn’t count. What counts is the result and that is beautiful. The two drone pieces can easily meet the best Niblock/Lucier works and the field recording piece is in all it’s simpleness a great moving piece.” Franz de Waard, Vital Weekly, 2004

In a Hegelian moment, the florid text which adorns this album’s linear notes speaks of a place in which the mind notices itself in everything, a moment in which the mind merges, as it were, with its once surrounding environment, no longer considering the world something with which one interacts, but something one carries like a vagabond in his bundle. Similarly, these subdued meditative drone works are led by tightly controlled pulsations that begin to spread out, small in mass, gradually shifting into each other’s space in ever more frictional, dense masses of vibrating noise. “There Is The Fact Of Its Bursting” outlines the disquiet the mind finds in its self-imposed alienation; noticeably more chaotic and grating, the piece is a dense symphony of ugly blurts from an overloaded electrical circuit, malcontent amplifier buzz, harsh mechanical hammering and jagged cracklings that are steadily dissolved into nervous electrical tones and softer, if still austere, drones. Much in the manner of Colin Potter and Jonathan Coleclough, these wisps and whirls of densely processed analog synthesizers can spawn a state of enervation, drastically altering one’s state of mind. Although the second composition lags about in silence without building to much of anything during its 37 minutes, by and large this effort is rigorously focused and full of detail. The tiny abrasive particles that open the record’s final piece, “There Is The Fact Of Its Being Torrential,” stimulate the inner ear, demonstrating as they do a wealth of attention on the part of Cluett to details not only of structure and timbre, but also pitch. During its latter portions, this meticulous montage of slowly pulsing distant drones passes through the thunder, lightning and pattering of rain from an oncoming storm, one in which the rattling tones and billowing drones sound both at home and lost at the same time. Max Schafer, e/i Magazine, Issue #6

What does your mind see imagine when you think of rain? A soft Spring shower in a grove of trees? A Summer thunderstorm pelting the pavement? A raging typhoon? Seth Cluett imagines the potential for all of these coexisting in a single drop. “My Own Thousand Shatterings” is his homage to rain in three pieces. In its sequencing, it unfolds in a reverse chronology. The third piece is a field recording of rain, the second a stereo recording of a performance in which all of the sounds were extracted from the third piece by playing it back in the resonance of Cluett’s home, and the first is a mono studio recording using the same sources as the second. In the first two pieces, the extracted tones are varied at a glacial pace (Cluett has remarked that his pacing of the second piece was in fact inspired by a glacial movement in Pakistan) to produce a shifting landscape reminiscent of torrential sheets of rain.

Cluett’s works are often reproduced or performed as part of an installation where he can tune the tones he works with to the resonant frequencies of the space. As such, there is a physical aspect to his work that one would not expect to translate to a static recording. However, his use of his own house as a chamber enables him to transcend this limitation of the medium. The tones that he coaxes of the noise of the rain become an acoustic analog to the condensation of raindrops from vapor. At times one hears a shuddering buzzing overtone as parts of Cluett’s house threaten collapse. The gut loosening bottom end rivals Sunn O)))’s liquefaction factor. Whether taken in its “natural” form or reduced to its elements, Cluett clearly views rain as a hugely unsettling and disruptive force of nature.

The “deep listening” and resonant qualities of this work recall Pauline Oliveros’ work with Stuart Dempster et al. Other obvious reference points for the listener include Alvin Lucier’s resonance experiments like “I am sitting in a room” and Phill Niblock’s slowly varying tonal drones, though comparisons to Birchville Cat Motel and Francisco Lopez’s “insect drones” would not be out of place. Anyone who has enjoyed enveloping themselves in these works will find “My Own Thousand Shatterings” a welcome addition to their collection even though their neighbors may not. Steve Rybicki, Foxy Digitalis

my own thousand shatterings (sedcd038) | 2004 | discography | Tags: , , | Comments (0)