Simon Fisher Turner and Edmund de Waal have announced the release of their collaboration, A Quiet Corner In Time, out on Mute on vinyl, CD and digitally on 27 March 2020.
Pre-order here: mute.ffm.to/aqcit
A Quiet Corner In Time began life as a sound work created by the composer Fisher Turner for renowned ceramicist and author Edmund de Waal’s architectural installation, – one way or other -, at the Schindler House in Los Angeles, and since then has metamorphosed into a standalone album release.
Listen to the first taste, Breaking Emptiness, here:
The resonances and echoes of past and present, and of the crossing of territorial, disciplinary and artistic boundaries are multiple and overlapping in this project. While Fisher Turner works in sound, and de Waal’s medium here is solid materials, there is an inverse in their thinking – much of Fisher Turner’s work intensifies the material and solid aspects of sound, while de Waal talks of how he hears objects: “When I see objects I hear them, in some kind of way,” he explains, “so the visual weight of an object gets transferred into an aural space. That leads to music, or rhythm, or poetry.”
The collaboration includes the Schindler House, family histories and the émigré experience; the strangeness of the everyday in an unfamiliar place, and of the everyday that is lost in the move. It brings together Fisher Turner’s composition, collaged and constructed from field recordings collected in Vienna and LA, alongside placed materials and architectural interventions: porcelain vessels and shards, furniture, and vitrines.
A Quiet Corner In Time is a meditative drama, poised between action and stasis, mischief and grace. Some sounds are drawn out, combed into finely textured drones, while others remain starkly literal. We hear the creaks of rattling doors slamming shut; echoing steps of people moving through long corridors; cups and chatter in Viennese tearooms. The trapped harmonics in a vocal loop fall in, but lift before landing, and the small melodic chiming of porcelain shards resist syncing with the sounds of horses hooves, made percussive like castanets. Wooden coat hangers collide in the cloakroom of the Secession Building and a stolen glimpse of Rossini from the Opera House foyer appears, as does Ryuichi Sakamoto’s recordings of Mr Raku’s fine coffee and tea ceramics. In the background the house’s scent of soil and foliage is represented in recordings of bamboo from the house’s garden, while crashes of unprepared piano punctuate the work. Porcelain objects click and rattle throughout, in rhythms that accelerate as they come to rest. “I wanted it to be beautiful,” says Fisher Turner, who has vivid memories of the intensity of scent and light in the house.
Many of these recordings were made during a two-day trip around sites significant to de Waal and Schindler, chosen by de Waal. Fisher Turner and de Waal travelled to places that Schindler had been, but also places that had deep significance for de Waal’s own family history, described in his prize-winning best selling memoir, The Hare With Amber Eyes (2010). Fisher Turner’s ‘guerilla’ recording style (which also exists as a bi-monthly project with Touch called Guerilla Audio) allowed for what de Waal calls “a creative taking back”, describing a feeling of recuperation, and of finding something that has been lost. The thrill of trespass as part of these anarchic recording sessions has added resonance for de Waal, particularly around the Kunsthistorisches Museum, where art looted from his family by the Nazis was kept. “You just have to look as though you’re there with purpose,” says Fisher Turner mischievously.
– one way or other – and the album release, A Quiet Corner In Time – represents the first time de Waal has collaborated so closely with a musician. In terms of Fisher Turner’s work, this piece draws his past into the present, referencing his early sound work for Derek Jarman’s films, which included Caravaggio (1986) through to Jarman’s final work Blue (1993). The collapse of past into present is also a core theme of de Waal’s work, and he has consistently broken new ground through critical engagement with the history and potential of ceramics, as well as with architecture, music, dance and poetry.
A1 The Museums With Long Halls
A2 We Begin To Be certain.
A3 Breaking Emptiness
A4 The Children Will Have To Stop.
A5 A Quiet Corner In Time.
B1 Right side Up Or Upside Down
B2 They Could Visit.
B3 You Don’t Have To Go Anywhere.
Trams. Horses. Iron grates of the Opera House. Edmund corridor walking.
Outdoor skating rink. Theatre Foyer. The Vienna Secession Gallery atmospheres and wooden coat hangers. Snippets of LA conversations. Mallet hits on iron.
Hotel König Von Ungarn. Kunsthistorisches Museum. Doors and corridors of the Imperial Technical Institute. The Bauschule. Edmund’s Shattered fragments of vessels and white porcelain shards. The Schindler House and garden details, and Beverly Hills street sounds.
Special thanks to Ryuichi Sakamoto for recording Mr Raku’s fine ceramics.