Phillip Samartzis is a Melbourne based sound artist and academic. He has numerous releases on labels like Room40 and his own Microphonics label, the majority containing field recordings.
In the accompanying essay to a Futurists Cookbook Samartzis explains:
“A Futurist’s Cookbook is an expression of the exuberant noise and dynamism permeating throughout the countryside. One as thrilling and sensual as anything the discordant city can utter.”
And there’s no denying Samartzis’ exuberance about this sonic world. It’s so lovingly recorded, with great care given to the depth of focus, textures, movement and even the range of sounds across the frequency spectrum.
The sounds were generated from a one-week residency he undertook at Pollinaria, a farm located at the base of Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo Italy. Luckily for Samartzis, the residency coincided with the summer harvest, which offered the opportunity to collect recordings of agricultural infrastructure, including factory machinery used to transform the unrefined crops into processed foods.
Samartzis paints an audio picture, gathering sonic details much like one would use photographs to chart their experience with intricate close ups existing alongside broad panoramic vistas.
It’s all incredibly vivid, with a fully articulated sense of space, and expert use of the stereo field. His exuberance is contagious as he captures this richly textured environment, revealing not just hidden details but uncelebrated combinations of details. This is particularly highlighted on the piece The Harvest where wind and farm machinery interact in some strange and beautiful dance, sensuously swaying in between and each other, erupting into a crescendo of movement, before slowly dipping away. It’s amazing, yet no doubt you would be standing there watching these episodes unfold thinking it was all nothing out of the ordinary. To some extent this highlights the beauty of the project, by removing the visual we’re more open to finding new meaning, new beauty, new understanding within the sonic world.
He does it repeatedly, the cracking thunder across the stereo field alongside the patter of rain hitting the ground is sublime, grains are crushed, water drips, bells on cows jangle in gorgeous Gamelan like patterns, as he continues to find the beauty.
There’s no obscuring here, with titles like Factory, Mountains, Harvest, Mill, and Night. It’s a process driven work, that stems from a curiosity about a sense of place, about the place where food comes from. It’s quite romantic, even idyllic, further heightened by the presence of still photographic essay from Daniela d’Arielli who charts not only the locations but also Samartzis within them.