Bethan Kellough Aven

[Touch; 2016]

Styles: field recordings, ambient
Others: Jana Winderen, Chris Watson, John Hull

Aven, an album designed by sound engineer and composer Bethan Kellough, is a film you watch with your ears. It has no visual component, but it may as well be a film. Field recordings collected in Iceland and South Africa — of geothermal activity, rushes of wind in grass, the sun setting, birdsong, rippling water — provide the action. There are no words or narrative, but dynamic swells of the natural world produce their own pulses, the form of which Kellough then accentuates and articulates through live violin and piano performances of her own original compositions. Subtle string drones are blended into a vast soundscape that moves freely between turbulence and placidity.

Like elapsed footage of a flower unfolding, the five recordings on the album audibly magnify processes of opening and closing usually neither seen nor heard. The recordings represent the passing of time, in that they capture and aestheticize physical transformations produced by heat, pressure, and release. But they also produce distinctive registers of motion and sensation, allowing listeners to experience sonic and spatial dimensions inaccessible in ordinary life. “Everything sounds very different through a microphone,” said Kellough. “When I’m talking about ‘opening out’ spaces through sound, there is very much a sense of an imagined world.” In the world rendered by Aven, depth, scale, and containment all take on new meanings, less revealing the hidden than creating it.

Most Read