Scott Morrison – Ballad(s) For Quiet Horizons (Room40)


Experimental sound manipulations can often be a little too insular for the casual listener, with the results caught somewhere between audio representations of a space, and constructions of an impossible or imagined world. Often it never really falls far enough into either camp to form any kind of narrative, or at least anything you can hold on to.

Yet Sydney based sound artist Scott Morrison’ work offers a way in, often filming the place in which he gathers his field recordings from. He then processes these sounds, however they still retain an earthy organic feel. It’s a work in which the visuals and sounds feel on par, equally as important, and in fact often using similar approaches.

There feels like a strong link in his editing technique, like the sound and vision are in tune, like we are literally hearing what we see; yet it’s not possible as both are similarly manipulated in post. Often it seems like he allows the environment to dictate the texture, the tempo and the complexity of structures. What’s most effective is the gradual reveal, where he processes sound that hints at so much, the near forgotten memory of the sprinkler on a summer day, the roar of a waterfall, where you scan and question your sonic memory, only to reveal that you’ve been watching a manipulated approximation of your suspicion all along.

His inspiration comes from the natural world. The opener A Field For Your Thoughts is simply a field of grass blowing in the wind, though he adds electronic drones, thunder, and perhaps even the rustle of wind through grass. It’s beautiful uplifting work, with the changes coming gradually over time. It’s draws upon the simplicity of movement, the beauty of simply watching an environment over time, playing on stasis and movement.

The second piece, Oceanechoes couldn’ be more different, with skipping electronics and frantic visuals, it quickly builds up into a very electronic sounding rhythm, yet the repetitive electronics sound like manipulated seagulls. What’s interesting about this piece is that the visuals take on a rhythmic role, linked to the skittering electrics, so that midway through when he brings in a fractured melody there’s no visual change. It emphasises not only Morrison’ patience, but also his desire to offer more than the obvious.

Visuals are often an addendum to music, yet in Morrison’ hands they’re intrinsically bound. There’ a curious energy between the sound and vision, with roles and relationships constantly shifting. Both these pieces and the remaining four collected here are highly immersive and carefully composed, with patience, subtlety, but most importantly an eye/ear for the poetic.

Bob Baker Fish


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.