LINE is proud to present the latest full length project by German sound/video/installation artist Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto). Nicolai (b.1965, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Germany) fuses sight and sound in minimal installations and sculptures. His work suggests the atmosphere of an alchemist’s laboratory where sound is converted into frequencies, pitches, pops and pulses. Working outside the bounds of representation and art history, he often composes arrangements using signal tones and the sounds of communication data. These arrangements are released under the name alva noto in the music field where he is also known. Prior to working with sound, he originally studied landscape design.
His performances and installation works have been shown in museums and galleries around the world including recently at the Tate Modern (London, UK), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), YCAM (Yamaguchi, Japan).
This alva noto CD brings together disparate recordings created thoughout the last four years, unified under a theme of dedication. All nine studies share the history of being made specifically for someone or for a project that for one reason or another remained open ended.
“wall anfang” for example, opens with a the voice sample “there must be a reason why it is so clear in my mind.” When we realize the person speaking is pioneering contemporary Canadian photographer Jeff Wall, we may understand the rising high tone that intoduces the track as the immitation of a photo-flash warming up to be triggered. The track was originally prepared for a documentary about Wall, who became famous for his large scale light boxes that cast white light evenly through his photographs. Like this balanced light, the track presents a purity of thought, that spirals inside and out, the voice of Wall breaking only impartially this conjecture of sound, while adding an atmosphere of introspection and study to the piece.
The percussive, almost marimba like sounds of the track “jr” echo the woodcutting of Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai, (whose work Wall allegorized in his photograph A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai),1993). The stark, poised three point intervals of sound bring to mind the intricate and equisitely considered compositions of Hokusai©ös style of Ukiyo-e ©øpictures of the floating world. Jhonn Balance’s premature death in 2004 gave way to multiple dedications to his life and music by people who took influence from his activities in Coil. The track “odradek” was originally prepared for the tribute record …It Just Is (In Memoriam: Jhonn Balance). Nicolai worked with Balance when commissioning him for the award winning release 20′ to 2000 a CD set for the last 20 minutes of the year 1999.
These diverse engagements come to rest within this release. Like the image that seals the font cover of the CD, that depicts liquid oscillating with various frequencies, we are reminded that sound can give form to image and to thought and that it may continue to resonate in absences, particles, or processesÜuntil a point of final closure. – Andrew Cannon