Mark Fell - Attack On Silence(DVD) [Line - 2008]
Here’s something you don’t see too often: a DVD release. Rather than being a soundtrack or an extended music video, Mark Fell gives us interacting sounds and images - though I assume that the audio is manipulating the visual. The disc, presented in a lush DVD digi-pack, contains three pieces; varying dramatically in length. To some extent, describing this work is all wasted breath really; like Fell’s “Multistability” (Raster Noton), this is something that really needs to be experienced first hand. All I can do is provide a sense of what Fell does, so I’ll just briefly describe each track in the broadest terms.
All three works are fine examples of Fell’s clinical, electronic constructions: “academic” sounding digital explorations, with rigorous attention to detail. The first, and shortest, track (all three pieces are titled by their duration) is just over two minutes in length. Sonically, its a series of quick cutting, jolting changes - with an almost cartoon-like sense of pacing. Each snippet of sound has a wonderful quality, and most could easily be drawn out for a long drone track. These cuts and jumps are accompanied visually by a long strip across the screen, which garishly changes with each jolt; different colours moving in lines, up and down within the strip. The second piece, “16:19”, sees a cube on the screen; with its top-left and bottom-right corners being the focus of visual change. The track starts off with long, slow-paced tones; stretched out by Fell and stretching my ears in the process - the cube changing with each new tone. After this, crisp, trebly clicks and pips appear; which pulsate the corners of the cube in different colours. The clicks, and surrounding sound, get increasing agitated until they finally speed up, with bursts of noise and very dry sounding drones following. All the while, the cube becomes more agitated too; flashing and changing in ever brighter colours. Near the end of “16:19”, looping, stuttering rhythms emerge; before harsh, blaring tones take the track to its finish. The third, last and longest track, “38:44”, returns to a strip on the screen. This time, though, the sound is visualised as emanating from a vertical, central line; with the right side of the strip mirroring the left, and presumably echoing the stereo channels. So, this line changes in colour, thickness and intensity, according to the sound; with its changes spreading outwards to the left and right. Here, Fell concentrates on slow, constantly shifting drones; with some truly, deliriously beautiful tones, and even some HNW-esque crackling. These long passages are divided by gaps of thunderous silence (audio and visual).
That gives you a sense of what the DVD contains, but like I said, its really something that needs to be experienced first hand. Its also something that ideally requires a large screen or projector, so that immersion can be as absolute as possible. In audio terms, “Attack On Silence” is incredibly controlled and austere; though for all the coldness this can produce, sections of the DVD are very warm in places - woolly, even. There’s a genuine sense of sounds being pushed and pulled to their extremes, and these tones certainly wander the head and stretch the ears. The visual element encourages much greater concentration from the listener/viewer, but at the same time also plays with the brain; forcing it to juggle the audio and visual elements - something that didn’t come easily to me. Its very psychedelic, but in the most clinical, austere way imaginable. Its entirely possible that the DVD is actually brainwashing the consumer to buy more Fell/Line product…!
In summary, another great, provocative release from Mark Fell; testing boundaries of “music” and our experiences of Martin P