JEFF TALMAN: Sea of Curves – New Domain Records

by | Nov 29, 2013 | Classical CD Reviews

JEFF TALMAN: Sea of Curves – New Domain Records ND-13011, 44:10 [Distr. by CD Baby] (7/2/13) ***: 

Jeff Talman is a unique artist. His music is part sound, part science and in his installations it is also a blend of sonic art and visual art. Many of his works utilize the sights and sounds of nature, as in his Nature of the Night Sky or the older Sentinel to the Wind. What little I have heard before I like. Talman is a one of a kind artist who truly does take the research that acoustical science brings to nature and a sense of the environmental art of a Christo Javacheff and the older outdoor sound installations of Stockhausen.

Talman’s installations are absorbing to listen to and as an aesthetic experience blur the lines between “ambient” music and “contemporary classical” – which is becoming a more and more less useful descriptor by the day. In this case, Jeff Talman’s Sea of Curves is the result of ocean wave sounds recorded by hydrophone, seismometer and microphone in collaboration with Matt Fowler and James Traer, NOAA ocean researchers. The work features what Talman and the physicists consider the “hum of the Earth,” the planetary sonic vibrations believed to be caused by worldwide impact of wave sounds on the sea floor.

From Talman’s program notes: Sea of Curves was first presented by the Pouch Cove Foundation in July 2012 as a multi-channel installation on a cliff-side field of clover with a  panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean in New Foundland, Canada. Installation sounds emerged from ocean waves sounds as they crashed on the rocks below. Künstlerhaus Dortmund, Germany then presented the installation in the February 2013 gallery exhibition  “Voyage: sea journeys, island-hopping and trans-oceanic concepts.”

The resultant sounds are what some refer to as “deep listening” where in order to absorb the overtones and textures (this is not a melody and harmony composition) it is important to listen to straight through. This will appeal mostly to people already familiar with environmental music. There really are few examples to point to that most people would be familiar with. Musically, Talman’s work has elements of Feldman and Stockhausen. Other listeners may find shades of Robert Rich or Steve Roach.

Regardless, this is fascinating stuff both from a science as well as musical point of view and if you are in the mood for very slowly evolving, tranquil, “brain wave” listening, this work or any of Jeff Talman’s installation recordings are well worth the experience. [Since just a plain stereo CD, benefits greatly from a pseudo-surround field such as provided by ProLogic IIz height or whatever you have…Ed.]

—Daniel Coombs

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