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Mark Fell

Ten Types of Elsewhere
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Ten Types of Elsewhere
  • The name Mark Fell may not ring a bell right away, but if you know that he’s half of SND, and one half of Shirt Trax and that he released that excellent Reproduction CD for Bottrop-boy as Secular Musics Of South Yorkshire, then you may know who we are talking of. As far as I know this is his first work under his own and it deals with topology: “Topology is a branch of mathematics concerning possible spaces and spatial objects – curves, surfaces, knots, manifolds, phase spaces, symmetrical groups, etc. The work explores a link between objects and alterity through spatial and temporal deformations, twistings, rotatings, reflections and stretchings. Here spaces and objects are not self-evident and singular, but multiple, irregular, anomalous.” Sorry for the long quote, but it explains it quite well. Originally this CD was planned as a documentation of his installation work, but because that is not easy for whatever reason, the sounds material was reworked into the work on this CD. The ten tracks are divided over forty-five index points on the CD, and it’s a highly strange work to say the least. Up until now most Line releases were the careful digital glitchy ambient, but this is a rather noisy work. It sounds most of the time of objects being rubbed against the microphone, but then fragmented into short, constant changing loops, each short loop seems to be treated differently from the previous or the next one. The sounds are quite dry, direct in your face, but have a strange captivating feel to it. ‘Abjection’ sounds like a big empty space being suddenly invaded by aliens, ‘Storage’ has a strange techno feel it and ‘Incompleteness’ is quite noisy with electro-acoustic treatments. It shifts into various places and is a truely innovative work, one that takes the whole microsound thing into a new direction. After Mathieu’s The Sad Mac the second entry in my top 10 for 2005. 
    (Vital Weekly, NL)

  • Given the focus of Ten Types of Elsewhere on topology, the liner notes’ overview of the subject are required reading: “Topology is a branch of mathematics concerning possible spaces and spatial objects – curves, surfaces, knots, manifolds, phase spaces, symmetrical groups, etc. The work explores a link between objects and alterity through spatial and temporal deformations, twistings, rotatings, reflections and stretchings.” 1(Mark Fell) = 0.5(SND) + 0.5(Shirt Trax). Whilst the rhythmic spatter of SND’s output tends towards an abstracted digital groove, and the chaotic digital detritus characteristic of Shirt Trax ranks alongside the best of Hecker and Farmers Manual, Fell – operating under his own name on this, his first solo release for LINE – explores an abstract world of codified representation presented through sound.There are moments where Ten Types of Elsewhere veers towards SND territory, but they are few and far between. Instead Fell maps a digital space that comprises short, albeit elegant fragments. This is at once the CD’s strength and weakness. The eight movements of ‘The Transfinite Self’ hover around a beautiful Eastern motif before collapsing into, collapsing into, collapsing into… at times frustrating repetition. ‘Mirror’ jitters and shudders over three condensed movements, barely totalling two minutes, which sound like the mutant offspring of a brief encounter between Autechre and Parliament. A distant groove lurks, forgotten in the endlessly folded moments of the opening movement’s 23 seconds – short, sublime and absolutely captivating. As a series of (dis)connected moments Ten Types… is fascinating listening, however, one longs for a broader exploration of the the CD’s differing themes – a feature that remains elusive (but perhaps worth pursuing in future?). But perhaps this is Fell’s intention, to use the abstract language of mapped space to explore the notion of condensed cartographic signifiers, digital signposts to a place that exists only in the mind? Whatever, Ten Types of Elsewhere is an arresting atlas well worth exploring.
    (e|i Magazine, US)

  • Ottimo, sebbene piu ostico alla fruizione, anche il lavoro di Mark Fell (meta di SND e Shirt Trax) su Line. Asciutta e poetica musica del quotidiano a proposito di topologia (si veda il complesso scritto in copertina), suoni generativi/incidentali in gran parte prodotti da oggetti sfregati sul microfono e poi organizzati in loop minimi, un lieve stridore che sotto la superficie grinzosa cela un mondo acustico corrusco che talvolta viene alla luce, come nei riverberi gentilmente simil-etnici di ‘Storage e The Transfinite Self’.
    (Blow Up, IT)

  • In the absence of any new material from Mark Fell’s collaborative work with Mat Steel – better known as SND (though rumours persist that the new material may be in the making as we speak), 12k’s LINE offshoot delivers the third solo full-length from this hugely respected installation artist. Ten Types Of Elsewhere is made up of ten conceptual episodes, with a number of pieces representing each of these distinct phases. Fell goes to some lengths to explain these conceptual triggers within the text that accompanies this release – so we’ll stick to providing an overview of the material itself. “Storage” – the third of these conceptual chapters – is perhaps most immediately reminiscent of SND, concentrating on more organised rhythmic structures and metallic clanks that resonate well with what you might expect. The eight tracks within the “Transfinite Self”, however, are the most startling and beautiful tracks on this album. Despite the fact that the same mathematical and metaphysical concepts no doubt guide the composition, the result radiates warmth and an unquantifiable tenderness that’s vaguely far-eastern in texture. The closing chapter of “Commuting” applies a deft cathartic quality, a rich tapestry of ambience with all the suggestive fragrance of melody you wouldn’t imagine conceptual work of this kind capable of. An album of extreme opposites and intriguing ideas – a bold move for this fine label that comes with a big recommendation.
    (Boomkat, UK)

  • Mark Fell’s Ten Types of Elsewhere sounds like a barrage of rain drops hitting a steel drumÜthat, or a particularly silly fart joke. That was my first impression, at least. When I listened more carefully, I realized that the music was far subtler (and far more beautiful) than I ever imagined. On some tracks, I noticed a distinct connection between Japanese plucked string music (I’m thinking of the soundtrack to the wonderful film Kwaidan). On others, I heard some Christopher Willits-like guitar fragmentations. Still others centered on intriguing hip hop beats. It’s amazing that a work that seems (on the surface) to consist entirely of tiny, echoing pluck sounds would create such a rich vocabulary of effects, but it does, and the results are simply fascinating. The title refers to ten processes that Fell used to explore specific topographical issues related to his sound installations. I’m not exactly sure which of the work’s 45 tracks connects to which of the ten processes, but I don’t really think it matters, as the tracks all seem closely connected in both sound and tone. The sounds you hear do, initially, resemble plucking noises, but those plucks are modified in many different ways. There are a lot of echoes, for instance, and these either stretch the small metallic sounds out into drones or create sharp, stuttering rhythms. These drones and rhythms then merge and squish together to create a variety of different musical shapesÜincluding (as I said) hip hop, Japanese minimalism, and 12k guitar fragmentation, but also Oval-like digital processing (especially on the later tracks), early Fennesz field recording experiments, Conet Project-like surreal coded signals, and even the occasional Steve Reich-like ambient rhythm experiment. I’m throwing these names out to give you a sense of the variety of sounds Fell is able to create using his topographical processes, not to suggest that he is on a mission to copy other artists. The real strength to Fell’s work, in fact, is that it resists categorization. This is due largely to the nature of his music. The range of sounds he chose to create for this work is incredibly narrow, but he is able to produce from these sounds an amazing array of shapes and styles. To me, the music reminds me of nothing more than the Tao Te Chi: a work whose central tenet is that all things emerge from and return to a single, complete whole. To me, Fell’s chaotic sampling of musical styles demonstrates how a single sound can become all things, all sounds. Of course, I could be completely wrong on that (as I am about a lot of things). Perhaps Fell’s use of such a narrow range of sounds stems from the musical equivalent to a Scottish dare (like eating haggis or tossing a caber)! Fell’s work was largely constructed for sound installations, and his topographical experiments are largely a response to dealing with the relationship between his music and the different landscapes where it resided for small periods of time. All the postmodern theorizing he provides to explain the concepts behind the music, however, pale in comparison to the emotional response I, as a listener, receive when listening to the music in my home far away from those sound installations.
    (Haunted Ink, usa)