Justin Bennett - Noise Map(Cd & Book) [Spore Records, Stroom HCBK - 2007]“One person’s noise being another’s sweet music” is a quote from the companion book to Justin Bennett’s Noise Map album which is a great description of any type of noise and ones levels of enjoyment of said sound(s). Really anything and everything can be either noise or music and that’s what’s investigated in much of Mr Bennett’s work –it’s really up to you were the line is drawn.
After hearing his fabulous recent work wildlife which utilized the sound of zoo’s, botanical gardens along with more subtle touches traditional musically forms I decided to investigate father in this highly creative sound artists work. Noise Map the album was recorded in 2003 with the companion book coming out last year. The album seems to be built from various field recordings sourced from one or many cities around the world and going from soothing and textured ,right up to all out noise attacks, this is a lot less “musically” in a traditional sense than Wildlife, as there’s less use of Conventional or distinct instrumental sounds.
Bennett users all manner of cleverly arranged sound matter from; bee buzzing, crickets, traffic sounds( there’s a great large truck vibration tone he circles a few times at the start of the album), static, street sound or chatter, weather noise ect. He either lets the tracks drift in a arranged yet organic sounding way, or build up dense walls of different textures and depth of sound. At some points reaching boil point like on the album centre piece and title track which he builds up one tensioned wave of noise matter after another like a strange dream of city destruction that keeps been rewound and let build up to destruction again and again. It’s difficult to figure exactly what he’s using at the more manic high moments but it could well be a mix of static and amped up downpours. The whole album really picks out the harmonic, musically, rhythmic possibility of city scapes, but never makes it self too obvious in it’s attempts- sounds will be subtle repeated, let drone or there rhythmic or harmonic tendencies slyly picked out but it never gets too heavy handed
The is a book is well made and stitched 150 plus page paper back with a stiff cover. The book features drawings and plans for recording and creating pieces, other Drawings, texts, photographs and essays on noise, Musique Concrete, field recording, the correspondences between music and architecture and between sound and image. which are all presented in highly readable and down to earth manner, with Bennett's tone never getting too arty or pretentious. The book features a few colour and tracing paper like pagers but is mostly in black and white. It’s makes interesting dip in and out of companion to both Noise Map and Bennett’s work in general as he covers works not on the disk.
I’ll have to admit the Noise map album didn’t grab me in the same way wildlife did, but there’s still really sonic artistries on display here, with the album offering up some hypnotic and captivating moments along the way. The book on the other hand was very intresting in seeing how he plans, commits his work. With the selected essays been rewarding, well written and highly approachable. But both items are really worth of your time if you have any interest in sound art or for that matter noise with a more field recording base- just don’t expect it to be too fiery and noisy as the projects name might suggest.Roger Batty