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A MAP OF THE OCEAN - ASHER + UBEBOET

Transparent Radiation 009 . 2008





There are occasions that are just perfect for an album like this (which is not a solid object yet, it will be this fall; for now it’s an online release). One of the first real summer days after a period of heavy rain, hot sun, blue sky, all kinds of birds singing since the early morning. Asher and Ubeboet (Miguel Tolosa) donate their poetry of assemblage to this gorgeous setting with a series of environmental recordings underlined by the customary interference, this time less emphasized in favour of slightly more visible events, which comprise various examples of human activity as observed from a distant location - sounds of washing waters, the appearance of ghostly semblances, voices so far away that only the higher pitches - usually children - are distinguishable. And again: the moan of vehicles becoming a chant-like blurred memory, glimpses of “chords” from who knows what source - maybe Tolosa’s bowed lap steel guitar, maybe a radio - that seem to suggest a dapple of harmony. The voice of the seagulls on a shore. Everything extremely simple and utterly beautiful, the way in which all of the above mixes with today’s surroundings causing a moment of aching consciousness of something that’s obviously perceivable but still we can’t put our finger on it. An apparition of sorts, remorseful ambient music with a sense of resignation to the inevitable - especially for the deep listener.

(massimo ricci, touching extremes)



Still on the MP3 format then, Asher with Ubeboet in a collaborative work. Ubeboet is Miguel A. Tolosa, who has his work released on Twenty Hertz, Non Visual Objects, Zeromoon as well as his own Con-V label. Their collaborative work is another fine example of what I wrote above. Here it's all field recordings, or so it seems, which pop up every now and then. Water sounds, people talking, perhaps cars passing, but by and large it's covered with 'dirt' - hiss, static, processed central heating system humming and such like. They create a dense, moody, but also rich texture of small events that cross each other. Thicker than is usual with this kind of music, they do a fine job. Both of them are clear examples of how this particular niche operates.

(frans de waard, vital weekly)



“A Map of the Ocean” a piece created in collaboration with Ubeboet (a name new to me), dispenses with the piano and utilizes rougher, more visceral field recordings; even the sloshing water sounds cold. Faint, organ-like tones waft by like so much flotsam. The piece has great breadth over its 40 minutes, almost steady-state but phasing through adjacent fields; fine work (and super cover) Also available as an mp3 at transparent radiation.

(brian olewnick, just outside)



A Map of the Ocean is the ninth release in Bremsstrahlung Recording's excellent TRANS>PARENT RADIATION series. Each release in the series is initially available as a high quality download which is then later re-released as a limited edition CDR housed in a custom-made cover. Previous releases in the series still on-line at the time of this writing include works by Rick Reed, Cory Allen, Bill Thompson, John Hudak + Shimpei Takeda, Duane Pitre, and SIRSIT (ensemble consisting of Josh Russell, Brent Fariss, Cory Allen, and Rick Reed).

It’s a reviewer’s delight when two of his favorite experimental music artists join forces. M. A. Tolosa (Ubeboet) is a sound artist who makes his home in Madrid. He’s been involved in composing and releasing experimental/electronic music since the mid 1990’s and is head of the well-respected Conv netlabel. Ubeboet’s own work is centered around minimalism and Musique concrète and as been released on several labels including NonVisualObjects, Twenty Hertz, Zeromoon, and Retinascan. In addition to his collaboration with Asher, he has also teamed up with Dale Lloyd and Pablo Reche.

Asher Thal-nir resides in Somerville, Massachusetts. Asher’s work is quite minimal and is constructed mostly using recordings of acoustic (piano) and electronic instruments, local field recordings, and found sounds. These recordings are then meticulously edited, mixed and lightly processed to various degress. He often juxtaposes the organic with the inorganic and the urban with the pastoral. A hazy layer of static hiss is a recurrent element found in many of his compositions. Asher has released work in both online and physcial formats on various labels including Conv, Leerraum, Mystery Sea, Laboratoire Moderne, Term, Homophoni, and, most recently The Land Of. He has upcoming releases scheduled for publication on several labels including Einzeleinheit, and/OAR, Winds Measure Recordings, and Gears of Sand. Asher also operates the Sourdine label.

A composition full of details to be sure. A Map of the Ocean is a beautiful and exemplary instance of modern-day digital Musique Concrète - concrete sounds blended with sinuous melodies and drones - a 40+ minute piece richly textured with detailed field/location recordings, found sounds, and voices and punctuated with repeated segments of gentle musicality and episodic water-based sounds. Moments of melody and rich, gentle tones rise and fall periodically against a mottled backdrop of urban clatter, room noise, pastoral sounds, the slosh of waves, and the hiss and crackle of static interference. The ocean is an apposite use of the water symbol here with its positive connotations of life and renewal and because the music engulfs the listener in a generally bucolic ambiance.

Considering that Ubeboet and Asher have each established their own personal niche in experimental/electronic music and have created their own means to reach similar ends, A Map of the Ocean comes across as a very fluid, harmonious work. The transitions from the discordant to the musical are smooth and effortless. Each artist’s contributions complements those of the other and their efforts merge into a wonderfully unified extended composition of contemporary Musique Concrète and sound art that flirts with ambient, noise, and minimalism.


(larry a. johnson, earlabs)