Somnambule - Writing About Music

Boris D Hegenbart ~ [somethingmovinginsideplasticbox]

Track 1, Snooze begins with a small electronic alarm clock piping away against a background of street noise, a hustle and bustle which fades out and is succeeded by the sound of an orchestra tuning up, then cicadas.

There’s an almost overwhelming sense of sonic flotsam and jetsam washing around the listener’s ears. It’s difficult initially to discern structure or intention. There’s a strong sense of ennui (if Eno hadn’t already nabbed the title Thursday Afternoon, Boris might have usefully deployed it for this release). While listening to this time seems to slow down and twist back on itself in a slightly queasy manner.

Track 6, Anode, introduces a voice saying in English:

“… as an emergency I’m wearing it in Berlin… like all these things you have to learn how to play it properly, it has its good points and its bad points… so it’s just a black plastic lid against some glass… and I think I’ll probably throw it away when I get home”.

Imagine these words spoken in the lugubrious tones of Chris Morris and set against the squeaks of something like a perspex lid being unscrewed from a perspex base). Would the preceding tracks be as funny if I could understand them? This and the following track which has a woman asking whether she can undertake certain actions makes me begin to suspect that the whole cd is based around the manipulation of one or more objects with the resulting sounds recorded and distorted on this cd. Or is it people trying to guess the origin of the sounds they are being played?

The thirteen pieces are composed of the loam of hesitant conversation conducted in a variety of languages, waiting room ambiences, the pings of disposable electronic devices, the distortion of poor recordings, the underwater acoustics of marine life.

Track 8, Crockl
Woman: “Are you double jointed?”
Man: “Not all the time, just some of the time.”
[thumping sound]
Man: “Nah, I can’t do it all the time.”
[strumming of what sounds like radiators]
Man: “And this is my knee.”

Track 10, Smip
“ I just played my spearmint tablet box… I’m tapping the box and the box vibrates with the pills inside.”
[against a heavy hum then what really sounds like TicTac mints rattling away, succeeded by cicadas]

As I listened to this cd I found myself staring anxiously and vacantly at a jar of lime pickle on a side table a couple of yards away.
Colin Buttimer
October 2003
Published by the BBC