An Annotated Phonography of Chance

Misanthropic Agenda / MAR051 LP/DL (2019)

An Annotated Phonography of Chance expands upon the soundtrack to an uncompleted 16mm film made in collaboration with English filmmaker Martha Jurksaitis and the Portuguese artist duo Von Calhau! The film ‘Nossos Ossos’ (which also lends its name to one of the tracks on this record) was shot largely on location in the Alentejo region of Portugal in 2013.

Sites visited included Evora, Evoramonte, the bone chapel ‘Capela dos Ossos’, Almendres Cromlech and many other castles, churches and megalithic sites in the area. These locations were used to make experiments with natural reverbs, for the most part sounding out the spaces with voices. Along with location field recordings and found tapes this provided the raw material for much of the soundtrack.

Limited edition pressing of 100 vinyl copies.

Available now direct from Misanthropic Agenda or for UK distribution from Penultimate Press.

A1 Succulent Gros (featuring – Von Calhau!) 3:00
A2 Overflown Ellipsis 1:33
A3 The Larum of the Living 2:18
A4 The Consensus is to Delete 4:16
A5 Nossos Ossos (featuring – Von Calhau!) 4:30
A6 Revolving Rivers 4:13

B1 Aspen House (featuring – Von Calhau!) 5:28
B2 Megalithic Circuit 6:03
B3 Shrouded Yagis 5:16
B4 Simmer Dim (featuring – Von Calhau!) 3:23


Reviews:

“A visionary tale of chance and observation.”
T.J. Norris, Toneshift

“This one’s got everything… field recordings, strange gothic tunes, avant-garde movie soundtrack elements, and visits to ancient sites in Portugal.”
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector


Reviews in Full

“Glasgow’s radio producer/sound artist Mark Vernon is about to release his follow-up to the incredible Ribbons of Rust (Flaming Pines, 2019). His sound is intensely intimate, one might think their own pipes are dripping as each droplet is painstakingly captured with precise fidelity. These ten tracks that span forty minutes are woven with zags and fluctuating warp that brings to mind the inversion of a jazz trumpet, its brackish and suspenseful.

The Consensus is to Delete sounds like one of those lost Coil tracks that continue to permeate the underground, paced and plotting, a bit of the spirit world and low in timbre. Perfect for the bewitched season of hallowed souls (and all that jazz). He tends to his set of reels with a real vision, one based on “a soundtrack to an uncompleted 16mm film made in collaboration with English filmmaker Martha Jurksaitis and the Portuguese artist duo Von Calhau! The film ‘Nossos Ossos’ was shot largely on location in the Alentejo region of Portugal in 2013.” It’s as cinematic as it sounds.

Still, Vernon, while capturing the spellbinding echoes of cathedral oration, songbirds tweeting and other street noise, this is far from the typical field recording document, not only in form, but much more deeply in nuanced atmosphere. The slow-churn of ‘scenes’ like Revolving Rivers is almost numbing as a retrospective snapshot in time. Yet it dances in the moment via its sing-song visceral qualities, obliterated transmissions and melodic wooziness. Only at marked times does one feel ‘cozy’ here, due to the carpet being psychically unfurled from under your feet, sending the listener adrift into new atmospheric scapes. A visionary tale of chance and observation.”
T.J. Norris, Toneshift, October 28, 2019

Nossos Ossos

Another fine LP from Mark Vernon, this one a limited vinyl pressing from an American label; only 100 copies made and likely to be sold out at the hour I write these lines. This one’s got everything…field recordings, strange gothic tunes, avant-garde movie soundtrack elements, and visits to ancient sites in Portugal. In fact many of the things that make every Vernon “travelogue” such an appealing release.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of sunburys, you’ll realise that Vernon’s obsessive tape-hoarding and radiophonic bent are always welcome under my canopy, and An Annotated Phonography Of Chance (MISANTHROPIC AGENDA MAR051) is no exception, barring perhaps the slightly haughty title which on one level leads one to expect a John Cage tribute or something equally unwelcome. The story of this one is that he went on a location shoot to Alentejo with the film-maker Martha Jurksaitis, where they met up with the art duo Von Calhau (Marta Ângela and João Artur), a couple of all-rounders who do performance, texts, visual arts, films and exhibitions to get their statements across. A film was made – on 16mm celluloid, no less – but it remains unfinished, apparently. One of the sites they visited was the renowned “capela dos ossos”, always a popular locale for the questing shutterbug who wants to get some human skulls and bones captured on their roll of Ektachrome, although it’s not the same one which Svankmajer famously pointed his macabre lens at.

Our friends also visited castles, megalithic sites…evidently the history must have seeped into their pocketbooks, as this musty-sounding record will testify, and I think it even includes moments when they sing, whistle and moan in these areas, just to experiment with “natural reverbs”. Somewhere in the midst of all these currents of activity and culture, a film soundtrack must lie; today’s LP might be part of that soundtrack, although Vernon himself calls it an “expansion” upon it, in the same way that a Graf Zeppelin could be regarded as an “expansion” on a runaway helium balloon. As frequently happens with these Vernon projects, a story of some sort emerges, or is half-suggested; this one follows that trend to some extent, and you won’t need much more than 60 grams of imaginative prowess to start visualising a benign yet mysterious gothic horror movie as you savour these subtle, eerie tones. Even the sound of the camera mechanism is included; it was one of those old-school 16mm cameras where you need to wind up the clockwork mechanism to make it run. Matter of fact, Vernon provides his usual shopping list of sound sources which we can listen out for, like children on an aural treasure hunt; if anything, Mark Vernon is too generous in the range of sounds which he will admit into his aesthetic net, evidently taking an interest in just about everything around him and finding beauty and charm inside it, no matter how banal or irrelevant it may seem at first gazoon.

The other thing I like about this one how he actually constructs – or discovers – some haunting melodies on this occasion, as opposed to his usual all-documentary approach, and each side contains at least one of these tuneful spine-tinglers suitable for any given Italian exploitation flick from the 1960s, hopefully featuring a doomed countess with long black hair in a castle with spiders. The cover artworks, featuring ornate light fittings, don’t do an awful lot to prepare us for the contents of this low-key audio fest, but what possibly could? From 23rd October 2019.
Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 23rd August 2020