Magneto Mori: Kilfinane

Canti Magnetici / CANTO 18 Cassette (2019)

Magneto Mori is an exploration of tape recording as a form of memory storage. In this iteration the location is the Irish mountain town of Kilfinane. Using a portable reel to reel tape recorder sounds from around the town were recorded onto the first side of the tape over a two day period – dripping rain, creaky gates, car mechanics, drainpipes, shops, church bells, refrigerator cabinets, wind blowing through the trees, passing traffic, etc. were just some of the sounds encountered.

On the second side were compiled voices of Kilfinane – extracts from the personal radio archives of Diarmuid McIntyre and Grey Heron Media that date back as far as twenty years or more. The recordings selected consisted mostly of local history, coverage of community events, news stories of local interest and interviews with a variety of Kilfinane residents.

Using tape as an analogy for the frailty of human memory this tape was then cut into pieces of random length, freeing the sounds from their linear, chronological sequence. The tape cuttings were then intermingled with a collection of magnets that de-magnetise (thus erasing) portions of the tape. The tape (along with the magnets) was then buried in a hole in the grounds of the local school. After several days steeped in the earth of Kilfinane the remaining audio fragments were exhumed. Dirty, mangled and partially erased the tape was washed, dried and spliced back together in a random order ready for playback.

This process of recording, emancipation from chronology, burial, erasure over time, unearthing and the reassembly of jumbled fragments for playback parallels the operation of memory and recall. Experience, retention, buried memories, forgetting, distortions, recall and chronological inaccuracies are all aspects of the human memory process. The main difference being that our memory is selective and plays an active role in what it chooses to remember or forget rather than the arbitrary procedures that are in operation here.

Once the tape was cut into pieces there was no way of telling which fragments were which and in the process of splicing the tape back together the voice recordings gathered over a twenty year period became interspersed with the sounds of those two days spent making field recordings in the area.

Further digital recordings were also made around the same location during the period of the tape’s interment. The contrast between these higher fidelity field recordings and the degraded analogue sounds added a further substrata of time to the process.

The final listening event consisted of two parts: A straight uninterrupted playback of side one (aside from occasional tape jams).

Followed by: Playback of the second side combined with a live collage of pre-prepared field recordings made in the intervening days.

Side A and Side B of this cassette tape correspond to these two distinct versions of the piece.

Limited edition of 100 copies. Released 15th February, 2019.

Magneto Mori was first presented at the Kilfinane Convent Chapel as part of the Hearsay Festival on October 1st, 2017.


Reviews:

“…transmits you into a world that feels alien and alive at the same time.”
Aydarbek Kurbansho, Louder.me


Reviews in Full

“Mark Vernon’s recording titled “Magneto Mori: Kilfinane” captures a brief glimpse into the town’s atmosphere in a fairly unconventional way. Using musique concrète techniques of tape manipulation, Vernon concentrates on not only transmitting the town’s breath to the listener but also includes a collection of recordings from the local radio station archives. He proceeds to cut these up, demagnetize the tape, bury the tape for a couple of days, dig it back up, clean and paste together random sections of the tape.

The final effect of the recording is something out of Pierre Schaeffer’s playbook. It transmits you into a world that feels alien and alive at the same time. The interlacing sounds of nature, people talking and the magnetic damage feel like an active scene in Kilifnane’s life. The damaged sections of the tape, representing the selective compiling of memories and memory’s deterioration, add that extra vitality to the entire experience. The second side of the tape meshes digital pre-recorded sounds with the analog dementia of the first side, further pushing on the perception of time passing. The final effect — just as surreal.

My favorite moments on this tape involved the brief appearances of orchestral music, church bell or what sounded like a choir in the world of external noises and cut up voices of the past. They shifted the lens focus on the tape in a very effective manner. As a whole, the multiple points of view on the subject of the city gave the recording an almost Cubist perspective on the small city’s life. Just try to listen to this magic record.”

Aydarbek Kurbansho, Louder.me

“Mark Vernon is a Glasgow-based artist whose work is inspired by the experience of radiophonic listening as an acoustic experience. “Magneto Mori” is based on a vision of tape as a storage for memory so “Kilfinane” is the name of an Irish mountain town and the sounds where recorded there. The constructivist aspect of this composition is highlighted by the fact that the recordings were cut and spliced into the piece in random order so the listening experience is free from a narrative aspect. To further add an element of fragmentation the tape was buried to obtain a degraded sound which have a dialectic with the clean digital recordings which are the other element of this opus.
The first side of tape, called “unadorned” is made out of field recordings of the town and the result of the editing and the process is a sort of dialogue between the clean voices, presumably digitally recorded, and the dirty recordings of the everyday sounds so a sort of nostalgia for a place which emerges as a memory appears to the listener. The other side, called “embellished”, is based upon radio archives so it covers, according to the liner notes, almost twenty years of the town history; while it could have been predicted as more verbose than the first side, it’s instead sonically more elaborated than the first side as it almost features no dialogues and the field recordings from the community events creates the impressing than it was a more lively place than it is now.

A rather impressive work which requires a certain imagination from the listener to figure the criterion of the choice of the fragment and these days is important that an artist remind to the audience that we record thing as an aid to memory not to exhibit them on a social. Recommended.”

Chain D.L.K.

Ribbons of Rust

 
Audio Archaeology Series Vol​.​2: Laem Thian
Flaming Pines / FLP081 Cassette (2019)

Ribbons of Rust continues a series of works exploring concepts around audio archaeology and found sound that began with the ‘Lend an ear, leave a word’ LP – Volume 1 in the Audio Archaeology series – released on Kye records in 2016. It is an irreverent, non-purist approach to field recording that puts found sound recordings of voices and music from the past on an equal footing with contemporary field recordings of a particular location.

This album focuses on a derelict and abandoned holiday resort at Laem Thian bay on the east coast of the island of Koh Tao in Thailand. The resort is situated in a small cove that is only accessible on foot via an overgrown path and a walk of several miles – a journey very few tourists bother to make. It is clear at first sight that the fading white building has been vacated for some time. The concrete structure opens out onto a small sandy beach that would have provided an idyllic holiday setting at one time. A number of palm-thatched holiday cottages with dilapidated roofs slide down the hillside. There are signs of vandalism; graffiti decorates the walls, the remains of campfires, broken glass and other detritus litter the floors – but traces of the previous occupants also remain. Children’s toys, kitchenware, hand written notes, menus, mattresses, a plastic telephone and four cassette tapes – rusty, caked in sand, weather damaged and corroded by the humid salty sea air.

Back at home these tapes were prised apart and transplanted into new cassette shells to salvage the audio from them unearthing an array of typically sentimental Thai easy listening and pop tunes and, perhaps more unusually, Christian sermons and hymns in Thai. This piece is composed from excerpts of the recordings found on the tapes along with field recordings taken on site, the journeys there and back and audio rips from video clips uploaded by other travellers who came across this same location.

The haunting quality of this place left a deep impression on me. The sense of isolation and abandonment it engendered was in stark contrast to the rest of the island, and indeed the rest of Thailand as I experienced it. This feeling remained with me and in some way it permeated the rest of my stay in the country. It is that feeling that I wanted to convey through this work. The impetus behind this project has been less objective documentation and more a form of sonic time travel. A document of a place that no longer exists.

After transferring the content the tapes were recorded over with the sounds captured on location, forever erasing what was once there. This way the environment has indelibly made its mark upon the cassettes both as physical objects (through damage and corrosion) and sonically, as carriers of sound (through replacement of the audio content).

All recordings made or found in Thailand between February and March 2016.

Developed during the Hospitalfield Summer Residency 2017. Made with support from the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund and Sound and Music’s Francis Chagrin Award.

Special thanks to Tian Miller, Barry Burns, Ian Middleton and Kate Carr.

Location photographs by Tian Miller. Cassette documentation by David Fulford.


Reviews:

“Glasgow-based sound artist Mark Vernon’s newest work could be described as many things: an intervention, an examination, a document, even a dissection. But there really isn’t a single label that I can confidently apply to Ribbons of Rust, which draws its inspiration and source material from a remote, abandoned vacation resort in Thailand; Vernon doesn’t base his music around a specific technique or set of restrictions, instead utilizing a variety of methods to approach a comprehensive representation of this place that so notably resonated with him. Arguably central to the album’s construction are the worn, damaged tape fragments extracted from cassettes found on location, essentially the literal “ribbons of rust” that ground everything in a manner that’s both tangible (the distortion, crackles, and stutters that mar the tape playback) and abstract (the sampled music itself). Though there are a great deal of spacial field recordings and physical elements that evoke a strong sense of there-ness, Ribbons of Rust does much more than just reconstruct this mysterious environment. It presents a singular perception of a place, resulting in a work that is deeply personal and completely unique.”

Jack Davidson, Noise Not Music, June 26th, 2019

Deep Listening

Mark Vernon & Daniel Padden: Deep Listening

6:30pm – 7:30pm, Sunday 29th September, 2019
Tramway
Albert Drive,
Glasgow,
G41 2PE

Tickets are free and are available to book here.

This event is part of Altered States and Human Threads, a season from the inclusive arts organisation Artlink, devised in response to ‘Until’, the current exhibition by Nick Cave at Tramway, and aimed at breaking down barriers of difference through shared experience. It will take place in the studio space.

A meditative deep listening audio event in the form of an augmented surround sound soundscape and gong bath. Participants will lie in the centre of a circle of gongs and speakers in a fully immersive, passive listening experience blending natural sounds, ambient textures and the resonating harmonics of gongs. Mats, cushions and eye masks will be provided.

This event is informed by the rich sensory interests and insights of individuals with profound developmental and multiple learning disabilities. Devised by Mark Vernon and Daniel Padden.

No latecomers admitted.

Suitable for ages 16+
If you require additional info on access to this event please contact Artlink directly.

More details here.

The other events in the series include:

23rd September – ‘Sense Field’ with Steve Hollingsworth & Jim Colquhoun

23rd September – ‘Comfort Zones? Whose Comfort Zones?’with Robert Softley Gale

29th September – ‘Sensational Brass’ with Wendy Jacob & Brass Aye

7th October – ‘Listening With Our Bodies’ with Jessica Gogan and Dasha Lavrennikov

14th October – ‘Spin’ by Red Note Ensemble

——————————————

Part of Altered States and Human Threads (23 September – 14 October) curated by Artlink (Edinburgh) which aims to unite diverse audiences through immersive experiences. Funded by Creative Scotland.

Radio Sygma Guest Mix

Undeformed Stratigraphic Sequences

For my guest slot on Russian station Radio Sygma I’ve put together a mix composed of recent tracks, forthcoming releases, found tapes, unreleased material and field recordings made in outdoor markets around the world including Bangkok, Colombo, Evora, Lisbon, Sant-Jean-de-Luz, Santiago, Valdivia and Vienna.

Mark Vernon’s work exists on the fringes of sound art, experimental music and radio broadcasting, with a particular and unsettling flair for re-appropriating environmental sound and obsolete media. A rich collection of domestic tape recordings; audio letters, dictated notes, home sing-alongs, answer-phone messages and other lost voices all find their way into his bewitching soundworlds.

Each Morning of the World

South Asia PhoNographic Mornings

 
Pleased to present the latest track from a digital album in progress – South Asia PhoNographic Mornings from the Each Morning of the World project produced by Stéphane Marin. A new track is broadcast every Sunday until December when the final album will be released. You can listen to the current album so far or the previous six complete seasons here.

’Serendib Stirs’ is composed from recordings I made across Sri Lanka in 2013. The piece imagines different scenes in a variety of locations across the country as both the natural and manmade world slowly spring into life: from birds and insects to factories, markets, transport and the sounds of worship.

Recording locations include Udawalawe National Park, the rail crossing at Wewalgoda Road and the bus station in Hikkaduwa, the Handunugoda tea estate, The Pettah Market and Sri Subramaniam Kovil in Colombo, the Kandyan Arts Association in Kandy and train journeys from Mirissa to Hikkaduwa and Hikkaduwa to Colombo.

Download here.

All proceeds will be donated to the WFAE (World Forum for Acoustic Ecology).

At home with Tony Morris…


I’m very pleased to be this months guest on the infamous radio show hosted by the talented Tony Morris:

https://threadsradio.com

“Join me tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock (on your way to work) when my guest for “At Home With Tony Morris” is Glasgow artist Mark Vernon. These interviews are always an education for me, and this one is no exception. It is difficult to sum up Mark’s activities and achievements: musician, performer, curator, anthropologist, experimental thinker. For me, over the last 18 months, nobody has produced music of more beauty.”

Delve into Mark’s Bandcamp page here:

https://markvernon.bandcamp.com

 
Here is the tracklist for the programme:

Gavin Bryars – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.
John Pilipenko – (a private home recording)
Mark Vernon – Cracked Shell
Mark Vernon – Magneto Mori – Kilfinane
Mark Vernon – The Lost Resort
Coil – Broccoli
Neil Norman and His Cosmic Orchestra – One Step Beyond
Johnny Hiway – Hoyry Klub Life
Joe Meek – Preliminary sketch for Telstar
Daniel Johnston – Hi, How Are You?
Toshiya Tsunoda – Inside of a Pipe
Ray King – Sink Symphony
Mark Vernon – Hot Water Tap
Felix Kubin – Hello
The Caretaker – Untitled (Selected Memories from the Haunted Ballroom)
Gregory Whitehead – The Problem With Bodies

Ribbons of Rust – new tape out now on Flaming Pines

New cassette tape out now on Flaming Pines. Limited edition of 100 pro printed and dubbed J-card tapes in rust orange. Buy now from Bandcamp

This album focuses on a derelict and abandoned holiday resort at Laem Thian bay on the east coast of the island of Koh Tao in Thailand. The resort is situated in a small cove that is only accessible on foot via an overgrown path and a walk of several miles. There are signs of vandalism; graffiti decorates the walls, the remains of campfires, broken glass and other detritus litter the floors – but traces of the previous occupants also remain. Children’s toys, kitchenware, hand written notes, menus, mattresses, a plastic telephone and four cassette tapes – rusty, caked in sand, weather damaged and corroded by the humid salty sea air. Back at home these tapes were prised apart and transplanted into new cassette shells to salvage the audio from them. This piece is composed from excerpts of the recordings found on the tapes along with field recordings taken on site, the journeys there and back and audio rips from video clips uploaded by other travellers who came across this same location.
 
The haunting quality of this place left a deep impression on me. The sense of isolation and abandonment it engendered was in stark contrast to the rest of the island, and indeed the rest of Thailand as I experienced it. This feeling stayed with me and in some way it permeated the rest of my stay in the country. It is that feeling that I wanted to convey through this work. The impetus behind this project has been less objective documentation and more a form of sonic time travel. A document of a place that no longer exists.

Made with support from the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund and Sound and Music’s Francis Chagrin Award. Developed during the Hospitalfield Summer Residency 2017.


Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror

I’m excited to have been asked to produce an exclusive ‘soundtrack’ for Ears Have Ears on FBI radio in Sydney. The show will air from 9-11pm AEST (12-2pm GMT) on Thursday 27th June on FBI radio 94.5FM in the Sydney area or you can listen live online here.

 

‘Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror’ is based around a found voice recording from a Dictaphone micro-cassette bought at a car boot sale in the east end of Glasgow. It continues a series of works that marry found recordings from the past with contemporary field recordings of the same location to accrue sedimentary layers of time and blur chronologies.

On one side, the tape documents the dissolution of a relationship and the aftermath of the separation in a series of text message exchanges read aloud into the Dictaphone for some purpose unknown. Equally puzzling, on the reverse side, the same voice lists a mundane catalogue of company vans and their contact details observed whilst driving down the motorway.

The Old Hairdressers

 
I will be performing a new live piece at the Old Hairdressers on the 29th May as part of a special event featuring AWOTT, Conspirators of Pleasure and Pavel V.

The Old Hairdressers, Renfield Lane, Glasgow
8pm, Wednesday 29th May
Tickets £8 Advance or £10 on the door

Tickets and further details here.

Awott are an experimental postindustrial synth group form Moscow, “Awott – the Liberator, protects those who recognize it. AWOTT is ether, air, fire, water and earth. All the physical desires are satisfied through it. Knows 64 Rithms, AWOTT gifts joy to the Creator. It is pure transcendental Note and timeless. Universal for any age, shapes, size and heights. Everybody loves and respects.”

Conspirators of Pleasure were formed in 2012 by Poulomi Desai (ex Dead Jalebies) and Simon Underwood (founder member of post punk band The Pop Group). They are an improvising duo that seek to bend all the rules, question the sacred, create extraordinary soundscape performances and self-regulating sonic systems, using modified and prepared instruments. Part of their unusual musical armoury includes a prepared sitar, sonically twisted stylophones, prepared bass, modified toys, resurrected radios and visually scarred slide projections. Their compositions explore experimental terrains, twisting technology to transform organic sounds into eerie calls that flow from intense waves of abrasive, noisy, chaos invoking industrial nostalgia, to structured pulsating rhythms, to melancholic, microtonal drones.

Mark Vernon is a Glasgow-based artist whose work exists on the fringes of sound art, music and broadcasting. At the core of his practice lies a fascination with the intimacy of the radio voice, environmental sound, obsolete media and the re-appropriation of found recordings. He incorporates these diverse elements into radiophonic compositions for broadcast, fixed media and live performances.

Pavel V is plays guitar through enough FX to sink a battleship.
Disrupted loops and fuzz make his guitar sound like throbbing gristle.

ALERT – new Alter double LP compilation

 
ALERT A new double album compilation available now on ALTER – order here.
 
“ALERT dredges the depths of grimy UK bedroom studios, old computer hard-drives and budget lager-soaked gallery sonics in search of presenting a unifying vision of a particular brand of the here and now… Each piece on ALERT is bound by a distinctly punk attitude, a form of experimentalism that skirts across genre markers and forces you to sit up and pay attention. Zero coffee house easy listening or functionality here – there’s metallic clanging, skittering drums and screeches, tough as nails gabber compression (check the Acolytes track ‘Feelings’) and dirgey guitar feedback all fighting for space in a surprisingly coherent manner. Sound artist and broadcaster Mark Vernon’s ‘The Object Invoked…’ lulls us into quintessentially British, nightmare-inducing radiophonic territories with terrifying fragmented media chatter, making for one of the highlights of the compilation. If anything, we can agree on the fact that this double LP stands to highlight the fringes of carefree, convention defying abstract electronics that currently permeate our little island in an illuminating and necessary way.”