‘Magneto Mori: Vienna’ wins 2020 Phonurgia Nova Award

 

I’m very proud to say that ‘Magneto Mori: Vienna’ was announced as the winner of the Sound Art category in this year’s Phonurgia Nova Awards – an international competition for radio art and field recording based sound works. Over four days the jury listens to and deliberates over the shortlisted works at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, along with an audience of listeners from the public. The piece was originally commissioned by Kunstradio in Austria for national broadcaster ORF Ö1. In her speech, the French critic Alexandre Castant said:

“This cubist and fragmentary portrait of the city of Vienna hides another, astounding one. In order to create Magneto Mori: Vienna, Mark Vernon recorded sounds on magnetic tapes which he then “buried” so that they would deteriorate, then, once they were “degraded”, he “cleaned” them and then “used” them for this work. The result is a new way of listening: the erosion of sound time is thus accelerated, simulated, amplified and brought to life. From then on, the listener, instructed in such a method of sound fabrication, re-reads the title of the work in a different way… Magneto Mori: Vienna… As in reference to the medieval “Memento Mori” which means “Remember that you are going to die”… And this portrait of Vienna by Mark Vernon then becomes another world: an archaeology of the city as well as of the sound device, the transformation of space into time and vice versa, a story of ghosts in the heart of Europe. Sumptuous.”

Call Back Carousel: Voyages en Grèce

 
An audio time-travelogue… A found sound road trip… A vicarious vacation…

The basis of this piece is a found reel-to-reel tape labeled ‘Voyage Grèce en 1972’ bought from a flea market in Brussels 15 years ago. As might be expected it is a document of a Belgian family camping holiday to Greece. One side of the tape is an audio diary of sorts documenting the trip moment by moment, much of the time recorded in the car in between destinations it seems. This side runs to an epic 3 hours on long play. The other side is a recorded slide show commentary over a backdrop of traditional Greek music at a more modest 2 hours. Although it becomes apparent that there is a wife (referred to only as ‘bobonne’) and child in tow we only ever hear the voice of the father. They don’t even appear in the background. Maybe they were mic shy or maybe they were just never given a look-in. Either way their absence on the tape is perplexing.

I had been invited to Brussels this summer to make a new radio piece for Radio Picnic’s ‘Musica per la radio’ series. I was also supposed to be going on a family holiday to Greece but because of obvious circumstances neither trip has happened. Out of necessity the production of this radiophonic excursion has been my way of taking a holiday without travelling anywhere – a sonic souvenir from a vicarious vacation.

In the composition of the piece excerpts from the tape have been combined with my own field recordings from holidays in Greece decades later in 2005 and 2015. Holiday memories of Greece from different times have been transposed on top of one another, intermingle and become confused. In addition, improvisations with a collection of objects selected for their sound making properties that were bought from the flea market at the same time as the tape have also been incorporated.

Special thanks to everyone who helped me with translations: Elina Bry, Selene Mauvis, Jonathan Frigeri, DinahBird, Anne-Louise Kieran, Sonia Dermience, Inès Guffroy and Meryll Hardt.

Extra thanks to Elina Bry for additional Athens field recordings.

A project by Radio Picnic with the kind support of the Swiss Foundation for Radio and Culture and Pro Helvetia. First broadcast on Freie Radio Berlin, 18th August, 2020.

Musica per la Radio – Recollections on Rotation

A series of concerts conceived for the radio and transmitted exclusively on the radio…

Mark Vernon – Call Back Carousel: Voyages en Grèce

Tuesday 18th August, 2020
8pm (berlin time)
Broadcasting on Freie Radio Berlin
Berlin Brandenburg / Colaboradio
88,4 MHz in Berlin or
https://fr-bb.org

An audio time-travelogue. A found sound road trip. A vicarious vacation.

The basis of this piece is a found reel-to-reel tape labeled ‘Voyage Grèce en 1972’ bought from a flea market in Brussels 15 years ago. As might be expected it is a document of a Belgian family camping holiday to Greece. One side of the tape is an audio diary of sorts documenting the trip moment by moment, much of the time recorded in the car in between destinations it seems. This side runs to an epic 3 hours on long play. The other side is a recorded slide show commentary over a backdrop of traditional Greek music at a more modest 2 hours. Although it becomes apparent that there is a wife (referred to only as ‘bobonne’) and child in tow we only ever hear the voice of the father. They don’t even appear in the background. Maybe they were mic shy or maybe they were just never given a look-in. Either way their absence on the tape is perplexing.

I had been invited to Brussels this summer to make a new radio piece for Radio Picnic’s ‘Musica per la radio’ series. I was also supposed to be going on a family holiday to Greece but because of obvious circumstances neither trip has happened. Out of necessity the production of this radiophonic excursion has been my way of taking a holiday without travelling anywhere – a sonic souvenir from a vicarious vacation.

In the composition of the piece excerpts from the tape have been combined with my own field recordings from holidays in Greece decades later in 2005 and 2015. Holiday memories of Greece from different times have been transposed on top of one another, intermingle and become confused. In addition, improvisations with a collection of objects selected for their sound making properties that were bought from the flea market at the same time as the tape have also been incorporated.

Special thanks to everyone who helped me with translations: Elina Bry, Selene Mauvis, Jonathan Frigeri, DinahBird, Anne-Louise Kieran, Sonia Dermience, Inès Guffroy and Meryll Hardt.

Extra thanks to Elina Bry for additional Athens field recordings.

A project by Radio Picnic with the kind support of the Swiss Foundation for Radio and Culture and Pro Helvetia.

ETCS Records – Guest Mix

 
At the invitation of Alvaro Daguer of Chile’s Cosmovisión Registros Andinos and ETCS Records (and the band Glorias Navales) I was asked to take part in an interview and put together an hour-long mix of some of my favourite Glasgow artist and musicians. Alvaro has conducted interviews with a number of artists from Chile and further afield who are part of the ETCS / Yellow Moon / Cosmovision Andinos roster that will be brought together in a fanzine. The focus is on different perspectives of the affects of the COVID-19 crisis in different parts of the world. Copies of the fanzine will be given away with all tape purchases and all of the artists mixes are available on Mixcloud.

Full track list below:

ETCS Guest Mix – Mark Vernon

01) Klaysstarr – reek (More No Place / ucorridor Recs)
02) Apostille – It’s Not Right (Alert / Alter)
03) Rob Churm & Joe Howe – The Great God Pan (unreleased)
04) Comfort – Better Need Assumptions (Not Passing)
05) Kübler Ross – Go On Your Way (Kübler Ross / Akashic)
06) Soft Tissue – Gesine 2 (Soft Tissue / Penultimate Press)
07) Hanna Tuulikki – Spinning-in-Stereo (Spinning-in-Stereo)
08) Luke Fowler & Richard McMaster – Twilight of the Rock Gods (excerpt / unreleased)
09) Klaysstarr – music (More No Place / ucorridor Recs)
10) Trouble Tracer – Clean Flow Morrow (unreleased)
11) Toi-So – Baby (unreleased)
12) Bell Lungs – Phosphodenderophobia (Phosphodenderophobia / Bandcamp)
13) The Modern Institute – Arabic Eight (The Modern Institute / Night School)
14) Sarah Kenchington & Daniel Padden – Tapered Things (The Bellow Switch / Shadazz)
15) Nichola Scrutton – Lateral (Bandcamp)
16) Cucina Povera – ZOOM0015 (Zoom / Night School)
17) Ellen Huynh & Mark Vernon – Stirring into the Awakening (unreleased)
18) Mark Vernon – Ill Fitting Rooms (unreleased)
19) Lucy Duncombe with Kenneth Wilson – And If I Was A Word… (excerpt / unreleased)
20) Sue Zuki – Every Conversation (We Are All Very Anxious / Domestic Exile)
21) Klaysstarr – ubiety (More No Place / ucorridor Recs)
22) Total Leatherette – Metro Boomer (For the Climax of the Night / MILK Records)
23) Vernon & Burns – The State Dismantling Corps (From the Cable to the Grave / Akashic)
24) Ela Orleans – Homily (Low Sun / High Moon / Setola Di Maiale)
25) Soft Tissue – Feedback (Soft Tissue / Penultimate Press)
26) Cyril Lamar – Kata (unreleased)
27) Streets of Glasgow – field recording

Radio LOOS – Glasgow Connection

 
Radio LOOS – Glasgow Connection is the second programme in a new series by radio artist and regular Lights Out Listening Group and Radiophrenia contributor, Leonie Roessler. Radio LOOS is the radio branch of Studio LOOS, a workspace, laboratory and performance venue for experimental music and sound art in Den Haag, the Netherlands. The programmes feature radio artists from around the world who have been important to Leonie’s work or who have inspired her. This edition features myself along with Lights Out Listening Group’s Monica Brown and Radiophrenia’s Barry Burns.

A Studio LOOS Production by Leonie Roessler.

Amplify 2020: Quarantine Festival – The Dominion of Din

 
A new radio piece created especially for the Amplify 2020: Quarantine Festival – As the world has increasingly been forced into isolation, Amplify and Erstwhile Records boss, Jon Abbey, began planning an online festival of newly recorded pieces from sound artists around the world. At the invitation of Penultimate Press’s Mark Harwood my contribution is number 156 in the series.

The Dominion of Din is a radio play made out of recordings from a single fixed perspective over an eighteen-year period. It is created entirely from field recordings made out of the rear window of my flat in the West End of Glasgow. In essence, it’s a catalogue of exterior sounds that have annoyed, disturbed or angered me over the years living at this residence – and sounds that have largely disappeared during lockdown. My go-to method of dealing with nuisance noise is to record it. A sort of recording banishing ritual. The hope being that one day I would be able to utilise these sounds in some way, converting these sources of irritation into something positive.

The piece includes now familiar soundmarks such as the daily delivery of beer barrels to the local pub, the shattering of glass bottles as they are emptied into recycle bins at night and the weekly maintenance of neighbours gardens that always seems to require extensive use of a leaf blower no matter what the season. More irregular sources of nuisance noise appear in the form of workmen erecting scaffolding, magpies nesting on the side of the house, drunken outdoor singalongs, overflowing guttering and a faulty burglar alarm that didn’t stop for three days solid over one memorably torturous bank holiday weekend. The irony is that on the only occasion that these sounds have ceased for any length of time I’ve spent several weeks doing nothing but listen to them over and over again.

The pub has made use of this time to create a beer garden at the back of our flat now so at least I have fresh impingements on my peace to look forward to as things begin to return to normal.

Source sounds recorded in Glasgow between 2002 and 2020.

Composed between May 20th and June 20th, 2020.

The Dominion of Din

Originally created for the Amplify 2020: Quarantine Festival – As the world was increasingly forced into isolation, Amplify (and Erstwhile Records boss) Jon Abbey began planning an online festival of newly recorded pieces from sound artists around the world. I participated at the invitation of Penultimate Press’s Mark Harwood making my contribution number 156 in the series.

The Dominion of Din is a radio play made out of recordings from a single fixed perspective over an eighteen-year period. It is created entirely from field recordings made out of the rear window of my flat. In essence, it’s a catalogue of exterior sounds that have annoyed, disturbed or angered me over the years living at this residence – and sounds that have largely disappeared during lockdown.

My go-to method of dealing with nuisance noise is to record it. A sort of recording banishing ritual. The hope being that one day I will be able to utilise these sounds in some way, converting these sources of irritation into something positive.

The piece includes now familiar soundmarks such as the daily delivery of beer barrels to the local pub, the shattering of glass bottles as they are emptied into recycle bins at night and the weekly maintenance of neighbours gardens that always seems to require extensive use of a leaf blower no matter what the season. More irregular sources of nuisance noise appear in the form of workmen erecting scaffolding, magpies nesting on the side of the house, drunken outdoor singalongs, overflowing guttering and a faulty burglar alarm that didn’t stop for three days solid over one memorably torturous bank holiday weekend. The irony is that on the only occasion that these sounds have ceased for any length of time I’ve spent several weeks doing nothing but listen to them over and over again.

The pub has made use of this time to create a beer garden at the back of our flat now so at least I have fresh impingements on my peace to look forward to as things begin to return to normal.

Source sounds recorded in Glasgow between 2002 and 2020.

Composed between May 20th and June 20th, 2020.


Reviews:

“These field recordings are deftly processed, edited and overlain so that the quotidian and the uncanny sit side by side… household appliances become abstract compositions for amplified percussion a la Tony Oxley, or whistling feedback loops and ominous drones… as the drinkers disperse and the bar staff lock up, a nocturnal jazz requiem starts up, like an Art Ensemble tone poem via Bill Dixon at his heaviest… we can describe Vernon’s sound design as Lynchian, but where he most closely resembles the master is on a narrative level, as he plays with temporality and moves through dimensions to create work that is uncanny, absurd, and often moving.”
Stewart Smith, Ion Engine


Reviews in Full

“Mark Vernon is one of Glasgow’s undersung sonic heroes: in addition to co-curating the experimental broadcasting platform Radiophrenia and the Lights Out Listening Club, the sound artist has racked up an impressive range of recordings, both solo and in collaboration with Barry Burns, Hassle Hound and others. Following hot on the heels of the splendid Paper Gestures for Jason Lescaleet’s Glistening Examples label, The Dominion of Din is his contribution to Amplify 2020, the online experimental music festival.

Vernon describes the 50 minute piece as a radio play made from sounds recorded in Glasgow between 2002 and 2020, specifically nuisance sounds that impinged on his flat: bins being emptied, people spilling out of the pub, tradesmen, nesting magpies, an infernal burglar alarm… These field recordings are deftly processed, edited and overlain so that the quotidian and the uncanny sit side by side. Saxophone muzak wafts unctuously in and out of earshot, as Vernon’s microphone roams through what sounds like a busy kitchen. Pans clatter and clang, knives slice and chop, before we end up in the backyard to empty the bins.

Through clever blends and transitions, Vernon obscures his sound sources: at one moment we might think we’re hearing a kettle boil, only for it to take on the deeper resonance of a bath running. A lonesome piano playing ‘Fure Elise’ floats in from next door: an audio verite snapshot or a constructed scene? Either way, it advances the narrative and provides a witty comment on the accidental juxtaposition of sounds in a busy neighbourhood.

Reverb and tape delay fog and smear the sounds further, so household appliances become abstract compositions for amplified percussion a la Tony Oxley, or whistling feedback loops and ominous drones. Yet at other points, Vernon presents them clean, so the perspective suddenly shifts to Vernon getting in the car, only to be called on by a workman attending to a blocked pipe. Such irruptions of realism bring us back to earth and can also be very funny, not least when drunken revellers break into the Cranberries’ egregious Troubles dirge ‘Zombie’.

Yet Vernon never lets you get too comfortable. As the drinkers disperse and the bar staff lock up, a nocturnal jazz requiem starts up, like an Art Ensemble tone poem via Bill Dixon at his heaviest. I can only guess at the source of those lowing horn like tones: those magpies pitched down to a crawl? That burglar alarm, screwed and chopped? We hear a drunken singalong of Radiohead’s ‘Lucky’, before Vernon abruptly stops the tape, relishing the ability to finally exercise control over these unwelcome sounds. A few seconds of silence gives way to ghostly coda of spectral tones.

I’m hesitant to use the term Lynchian in a musical context, seeing as it’s come to denote any kind of spooky reverb-laden Americana. Sure, we can describe Vernon’s sound design as Lynchian, but where he most closely resembles the master is on a narrative level, as he plays with temporality and moves through dimensions to create work that is uncanny, absurd, and often moving.”

Stewart Smith, Ion Engine, July 2020

“Next comes a sonic report from Glasgow that Mark Vernon has totally lost it during lockdown. For years, he’s been recording The Dominion of Din, comprised of every annoying sound he’s heard from his rear window. Neighbors use leaf blowers at ungodly hours, objects are dragged, dogs bark, beer is delivered every day (but unfortunately not to Vernon), recyclable glass is broken every night. Vernon reports that these sounds virtually disappeared during the pandemic, during which he played them back and created a soundscape. Yep, he’s definitely lost it. Someone’s hammering, someone’s panting, people are yelling about inane things (a water pipe!), workers are singing “Zombie” off key and oh God, not Für Elise, make it stop! I wouldn’t want to live where Vernon lives, but I understand his situation ~ the lack of the usual annoying sounds has been nirvana. He’s made something good from something bad, at the cost of his sanity.”

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen, July 2020


Revue & Corrigée feature – Audio-Archéologie

 

I’m very proud to have been featured in this month’s issue of French experimental music magazine Revue & Corrigée. Bouncing questions and answers back and forth over the course of a few weeks Jérôme Noetinger conducted an in depth interview with me focussing on the medium of tape, radio, tape recording clubs and ideas around audio archaeology and nostalgia. The results are a glossy 6-page spread illustrated with documentation from some of my past projects.
 
The article is all in French so this one is only for the Francophones I’m afraid.
 
Available to buy here.

Revue & Corrigée issue 124, June 2020.

Choses Contraires

As some opportunities disappear others present themselves. I am very pleased to have been invited to take part in a new radio show collaboration with French sound artist Elen Huynh this month. The first 15 minutes of the show was collaged together by Elen from my archives – the remaining 45 minutes is all new collaborative material created by passing recordings back and forth online over the past month or so.

You can hear the show live on LYL Radio this Tuesday, 16th June. More details below:

Choses Contraires
LYL Radio – 16/06/2020 • 9PM – 10PM (CET)
WITH ELEN HUYNH & MARK VERNON

Elen Huynh nous propose d’écouter 1 heure de composition sonore et vocale faite avec son invité Mark Vernon, artiste radio et producteur basé à Glasgow, pour sa dernière Choses Contraires de la saison.

The show has since been archived so you can now listen using the player above.

Un-augmented Humans with Renato Grieco

 
New radio documentary series ‘Un-augmented Humans’ kicks off with a first episode devoted entirely to me. The show is produced by Italian sound artist Renato Grieco (AKA kNN) who I first came across through his collaborative project Double Goocher Shop with Matthew W Hopkins that was aired on Radiophrenia last year. Renato is a thoughtful and insightful host and focuses on our shared passion for the medium of tape, sound effects records, radio art and several recent projects along with audio excepts and exclusive tracks. The programme will be broadcast on Fango Radio on the 1st June at 7pm CET. Listen live on Fango Radio.

This show has since been archived on Mixcloud. Listen again using the player above.