Deathprod - Sow Your Gold In The White Foliated Earth [Vinyl LP]
Regular price $23.00
Sow Your Gold in the White Foliated Earth exists first as a curator's fancy - in this casefrom Oslo's Ultima Festival for contemporary music in 2014. The idea was to give reveredNorwegian experimental electronic musician Helge Sten, aka Deathprod, access toseminal avant-garde composer Harry Partch's self-designed, custom-made, specialized,invented instruments - an orchestra tuned to just intonation, using up to 43 intervalsinstead of the standard 12 for the most commonly used Western equal temperament.An artist with a 30+ year career and an uncompromising reputation that reflects theemotional specificity of his uneasy, yet compelling sound, maintained throughout hisexpansive discography, Sten was an intriguing choice for such a project. Although heattended art school, training in electronic music and sound art, he had little experiencewith acoustic instruments and can neither read nor write music notation. Yet he's beenengaged with Partch's music, and outsider art more generally, since he was a teenager.His resulting piece/composition for the project was originally intended only forperformance by Cologne-based Ensemble Musikfabrik, for a series of concerts in fiveEuropean cities between 2015 and 2018. It's Musikfabrik that undertook the painstaking,expensive process of building an entire set of the composer's creations - the second onlyto the originals built by Partch himself. They are the professional musicians and virtuosicinstrumentalists that had to re-train and re-educate on these unknown and experimentalsound sculptures in non-standard tunings. And they house this large, gorgeous physicalinstrumentarium and deal with the enormous logistics of working with it, sometimesshipping the fragile pieces to other locales via semi-trucks or ships.Because of such monumental efforts, Musikfabrik are notoriously guarded withrecordings of the instruments. And rightly so. They're the only ones allowed to performon them, too. But Sow Your Gold isn't Musikfabrik playing. Instead, Sten spent days andnights alone with the instrumentarium in Cologne. He played the instruments himselfwhile recording, layering the recordings and editing without effects to compose an 'audioscore' for Musikfabrik to work from in order for the ensemble to perform the piece.(Partch also regularly worked this way, although he would transcribe afterwards.Likewise, Sten worked with a professional arranger to create a detailed score, too.) So,that makes Sow Your Gold an even less likely rarity - partly why it's release comes sevenyears after it's creation.If you ask Sten about the album's title, he'll point you to the text he borrowed it from -Michael Maier's Atalanta Fugiens by H.M.E. de Jong, a 1969 study of a 1617 book ofalchemical emblems - and notable passages dealing with alchemy, chemistry, andagriculture, all transformative processes. And while that may sound complicated, histakeaway is simple: "You have to break something down to create something new," - alesson he felt related strongly to his own musical process, especially in this project.So, while Sow Your Gold in the White Foliated Earth is a piece written for specific, oddlytuned, extremely rare and unusual instruments, and for a certain ensemble - namely,some of the finest contemporary musicians in Europe - Sten grew fond of the audioscore, recognizing it as coming directly from the creative process in it's purest, mostnatural form. And so from a foliated earth, where obscure tradition, treasured scarcity,immense effort, and patient certainty layer and criss-cross, comes rugged gold, polishedto shining by one outsider for another.