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In an gesture sure to send shockwaves around the electroacoustic / field recording community, Room40 man Lawrence English has returned to the scene of Luc Ferrari’s gorgeous Presque Rien No. 1 (a Yugoslavian / Croatian town) to record it again. Is Approaching Nothing therefore a tribute album? Maybe so, but it is just as great for deep listening as Ferrari’s piece. Out on Baskaru.


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Approaching Nothing by Lawrence English
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7/10 Laurie Staff review, 22 June 2016

Anyone heard Luc Ferrari’s Presque Rien No 1? Well maybe you should be reviewing this instead of me. In what may be considered an homage or a dick move, depending on how you look at it, Lawrence English has decided to go to the same village in former Yugoslavia to record Ferrari’s album again. It’s the sound art version of that Radioland thing where Franck Vigroux & Matthew Bourne pretend to be Kraftwerk for an hour.

Maybe this is being too hard on the Room40 founder, especially for someone who hasn’t even heard Ferrari’s version. Some great sound events can be found in here, from the opening tolling bell, to snatches of street-echoed conversation and passing engines. Sounds that could have never made it into the 1967 recording are also here, such as the instantly recognisable chirrup of someone’s mobile. While mundane to us, it’s an interesting comparison perhaps, and neatly segues to a garden scene with throbbing insects, buzzing flies and the sweet sounds of birdsong. Pure zen sounds right here. It eventually moves on to a nautical setting, with the creaking of wood and sloshing of the harbour water surrounding you. Quit driving your speedboat about, we’re trying to row here. Jeez.

I can’t shake the feeling that the greater point of this is still elusive. The press release talks about something called ‘relational listening’ that I challenge you to untangle the meaning of. Maybe that’s it though, it’s all relative, so we all relate it to something personal to us, so this is my opinion, disregard it, get some pure recorded sound in yr life.


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