Shelter Press / France / 2020
The music of Naarm/Melbourne composer Lisa Lerkenfeldt channels a unique wavelength of foreboding, interstitial electronics, incorporating strategies of musique concréte threaded with veiled currents of melody and hypnosis. Recent recordings for Vienna Press, Longform Editions and Aught Void have demonstrated different depths of process and finesse but her latest, Collagen, captures perhaps the most complete and complex manifestation of her craft to date.
Drawing on a disciplined palette of peach wood combs, contact microphones, piano, strings, and feedback, the album moves in low, looming arcs, ascending to strange purgatories of opaque atmosphere. Lerkenfeldt cites a core aspiration to “elevate the everyday,” transforming common objects into otherworldly sound sources, which colors Collagen with a beguiling tactility, like vibrations traced in sand. The tracks shift in frequency and feeling, alternately heady and bodily, acoustic and synthetic, isolated states of static, light, and undertow skirting the outer rings of ambient, noise, and modern composition.
Although each piece exists in its own rare air the composite panorama they present is striking in its sweep and subtlety. Lerkenfeldt's muse seems one of evasion as much as evocation, navigating negative spaces for their subliminal whispers of dread or beauty. It's an aesthetic both ascetic and exploratory, minimalist mirages of resonance, texture, and gravity skewed through the pensive glow of room tone.
But Lerkenfeldt is too versatile an artist for purist restraint, which Collagen demonstrates dramatically in its closing cut, “Champagne Smoke.” A quivering bowed eulogy ebbs under a flickering film of distortion, slowly swelling in sorrow until suddenly the screech goes silent, revealing a murmuring phantom haze hidden beneath the strings, like a specter lost in an abandoned house.