Martin Kay - Stadium [Avantwhatever - 2016]Stadium is the most recent release from this Australian sound artists & field recordist. It comes in the form of a CDR, and offers up eleven tracks taking-in field recordings captured over a five year period in & around the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) stadium.
I first became aware of Mr Kay’s work back in 2014 with the excellent All Things Metal( on 3leaves )- which saw him offer up a selection varied, and often creative field recordings made in & around metal made items/ settings. And the last time I heard something from him was last years Courtyards- which( as it title suggests) featured recordings taken from various courtyards locations in Paris.
I guess you’d say this new release follows on the more esoteric & concept focus of the Court yard release- as the eleven tracks here are all about capturing certainly sonic spaces, and how sounds happen, behave, and carry in those spaces. With the compositional arrangement of the albums track traces a linear trajectory from the centre most ring of the ground right through the far reaches of the stadium’s surrounding neighbourhoods, where the cheering dissolve beyond the fringes of audibility. The releases recordings starts at one of the main central stands in the stadium, ending in the suburb of Richmond some 3km’s away from the stadium.
As you’d imagine the start of the work finds all the sounds of the stadium very up-close, centred, and full-on. And as the disc carries on the noise of the stadium slowly dies back, to become a distant roar, with other sounds( people talking, bird sound, movements sounds, trains, etc) taking a more central role. If this whole concept/ idea sounds a little flat & unappealing, Kay does often managed to pick relatively worthy places to stop off in his compositional trajectory- going from the grounds elevator, up though the grounds ventilation system, onto the highest point in the stadium. Then at set spots away from the stadium, like a drainage system, a residential living room, rail yard, and near a church. Also where some of the tracks are fairly lengthy( the longest been nearing nine minute), Kay knows where to cut the tracks at the right place, so they keep your interest, and( mostly) never really become tiresome.
Sure this isn’t the most eventful, ear-catching, or flashy of field recording albums, and it does need both time & patient listening to get the most out of it. But as I’ve now played this through on four or five separate occasions, I’ve found worth & rewarding detail in most of the tracks, and an interesting/ original concept to boot. The only thing that maybe let it down a little was the packaging it’s self, as he CDR comes in a plain card mini gatefold with stuck-on black & white text- I really feel a selection of pictures from each selected sonic stop-off spot would have added a extra dimension to the whole thing, and also pull in the listener a bit quicker too.