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Iain Armstrong - Sacred & Profane [Gruenrekorder - 2013]

Forms of religious worship, and the places where they take place-in are varied & sometimes unique- from the scared & mystical, to the arcane & timeless, onto the seemingly mundane yet still intriguing.  “Sacred & Profane” finds British sound artists & composer Iain Armstrong offering up a collection of fifteen field recordings made in various religious sites around the world over a twelve year period. 

The just under 67 minute release finds Armstrong taking us on a fairly diverse, layered and rewarding sonic journey across various continents & many faiths- from small scared sites, to larger temples or churches. From crowded areas of worship, to more inmate & remote places.

To give an idea of the scope & the content of each of the tracks, I’ll give you a run down of the first five tracks here- we move from the ornate yet  sparsely haunting church bells tolling of St. Salvator’s in Casalbordino, Italy. Onto the human chatter &  majestic pray chant of Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.  Over to the aged & various bell/ gong tolling, water rushing & distant oriental people chatter/ pray of Chumig Gyatsa (one of the 24 Buddhist Tantric places) located in Mustang, Nepal.  Though to the muffled people & child chatter, foot falls, boards creaking, cat meowing(!) & benching sitting of Beyazit Mosque Courtyard in Istanbul, Turkey. Onto the duck quacking, children crying, traffic drone, and distant regimented church bell ringing of St. Martin’s in Bowness-On-Windemere, England.

The fifteen recordings last between just under the two minute mark, to just over the ten minute.  And for the most part Armstrong mangers to select the perfect length for each of the tracks- so you get a good idea of each sites various sonic make-up & individual sound map, yet you never become bored or jaded, as he keeps the feeling of variation, setting & often wonder flowing from track to track.

“Sacred & Profane” is another worthy chapter in the Gruen Digital series, with Armstrong taking the listener on a fairly wide-ranging journey through the various sounds & sonic imprints of these places of religious worship.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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