Various Artists: SoundDome (Rattle)

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Various Artists: SoundDome (Rattle)

As with a few of the more challenging albums on the Rattle label, we offer these words just by way of introduction only to this collection of sonic art pieces by five New Zealand composers who work in academia and/or create work for soundtracks.

The album comes with a 10 minute DVD interview with John Coulter who has created the SoundDome, “an instrument which has inside it 25 speakers” which enables sound to be placed anywhere in the three dimensional space without reverb.

He explains how the works we hear were created specifically for the instrument of the SoundDome, so it is composing for the space and creating sound for this unique environment.

The album's pieces come with stereo, 5.1 and binaural options for listening and engagement.

There is a wide swathe of sound explored here which includes spoken word set against electronic sounds, field recordings, vocalisations and loops (Coulter and others' reminisces of a hay-bailing and a rural childhood on While the Sun Shines); recordings from the natural world as the backdrop to spoken word (Chris Cree Brown's tranquil and intelectual Transcendence); most of the above in John Elmsley's five-part suite of sonics entitled Soundings, as well as – and we are being glib – Signal by David Downes which seems to capture R2-D2 in conversation and a group of men shouting in desperation.

There also a strident and – in this context -- distinctively aggressive sound piece by Paul Smith for cello and electronics on the dramatic 11 minute Logos.

This is a deep and wide exploration of the possibilities of pure sound, emotional and physical space, and very personal encounters with all those.

And another courageous release by Rattle which is certainly aimed for a select audience, nearly all of whom will be fellow travellers in these worlds and doubtless excited by the possibilities of the SoundDome.

This album can be heard at Rattle here where there are links to bandcamp for purchase and to the SoundDome site.

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