This album by Dublin sound artist Fergus Kelly was released through Farpoint Recordings on 23rd May 2012. It contains 8 tracks totalling 57 minutes, and features a short essay from writer Paul Hegarty. The compositions were made using speaker feedback, no-input mixing board, DIY electronics, amplified metals, field recordings and processing.
The pieces employ a wide range of textures and timbres across a broad dynamic spectrum, ranging from full-bodied, dense soundfields, to more muted and understated presences. Feedback is the core sound and starting point for the compositions, and is taken to various extremes via many stages of intensive electronic processing and forensic editing. Sounds as raw, malleable matter, stretched to the point of collapse, pulled inside out, further distilled and cross-hatched, breeds inscrutable new forms, at once physical and phantom in nature.
A Moebius strip of endless decay and regeneration, the sound of sound cannibalising itself, these fugitive soundscapes were grown from residual traces of empty spaces, ventriloquised into being - a void given voice - where feedback makes dimension audible. In this case, the dimensions of various metal vessels mounted on speakers, which resonate, buzz and rattle with microphones placed inside.
Woven together, these disembodied, atomised artifacts establish their own space for the listener to navigate, volatile and capricious as the weather. Threaded through this speculative fiction is documentary reality in the form of field recordings, which augment and galvanise a particular sense of place and narrative flow, which sits uneasily between the created and the real.
The textures of both worlds have an interconnectedness, and a parity of presence. The ceaseless surf of traffic, the hums and drones of supermarket fridges and myriad other machine presences - sounds we daily swim through with varying levels of awareness - intersect with magnetic fields of prepared noises, aural detritus and sonic fallout, to form a climate of disturbance and disruption. A seepage of spectral broadcasts, corrupted signals and insidious transmissions - tactile yet immaterial - suspends us in sound.
Richard Pinnel, The Watchful Ear writes:
A Congregation of Vapours is the recent, and to date most impressive album by the Dublin based composer/improviser/sound sculptor Fergus Kelly. Released on the Cork based Farpoint Recordings label, this set of eight pieces highlight some subtle and very welcome changes in Kelly’s solo work. If previous albums leant towards a more droning aesthetic, often blending vaguely metallic sounds with field recordings to produce compositions somewhere between musique concrete and the eighties industrial scene, so this new work doesn’t move a long way away, but introduces enough of a degree of variety to both the music’s palette and structure to pull the music on leaps and bounds. A Congregation of Vapours was recorded over two years, alone in Kelly’s Dublin studio, and the sense of loving craftsmanship and confidence in the material such a situation develops is clear here.
Very much recommended, and wrapped in a very fine cover.
You can read more here:
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes writes:
Fergus Kelly: speaker feedback, no-input mixing board, DIY electronics, amplified metals, field recordings, processing.
Add to the above instrumentation a quick glance at this link and you will need no explanation whatsoever about how this marvelous record was conceived and performed.
Eight tracks that drone, buzz, rattle, quake and hum like the good times where there was still a word behind this category of proposal:research. Unquestionably, Kelly did a lot of that, adding to the process a pair of discriminating ears. There’s a profusion of harmonic substance in A Congregation Of Vapours that satisfies the ear in near-carnal fashion. I believe that no better way of receiving the goods from this CD exists than enjoying it via top-class dynamic headphones, for there are camouflaged nuances and tremendous underground plunges inside the vibrational matter which demand superior means to be authentically received in the physical manner that should peculiarize this brand of inner education. The agile exercising of the single components in the audible fabric – in conjunction with a cyclical sense of wholeness in the compositional formation – pushed me to return to the disc over and over during a week’s span. Each time I ended with having nothing to communicate in writing, yet highly delighted. When that happens, it is commonly an encouraging sign – except for the fact that my conviction of the impossibility of conveying words to depict the unequivocal corporeal consequences of certain sounds is by now total.
Without actual similarities, let me just recommend this release to those who support artists such as Jim Haynes, Seth Nehil, Olivia Block, Jgrzinich, Mnortham, Jonathan Coleclough. It’s definitely one of the best works treading the “repeat and reprocess” path that I’ve heard of late, evocatively palpitating and forbiddingly solitary at once. Practically flawless.
If you would like to hear a track from the album click on this link:
Lost in the folds of the map
Total duration: 57 minutes
Fergus Kelly — A Congregation of Vapours
First Edition of 500 copies.
CD on folded A5 size card printed on satin paper stock.
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