Helena Gough
with what remains
CD (E38)

Helena Gough’s debut album consists of seven sound-
works, conceived as spaces to enter. Within these
spaces sounds are born, then evolve, disintegrate and
sometimes die. Each is created using a minimum of
raw material, usually derived from recordings of small
sounds and domestic noises. This material is pulled
apart until its roots are severed and it becomes free
from its original ties. Efforts are made to find a balance
between spontaneity and precision. Rarely is there
a resolution or a direct linear progression from A to B;
often it is something closer to A into A — ideas turn
in on themselves. Textures appear to be still but
are always in motion. This microscopic approach is
a focus of the way in which sounds are treated.

See also
Helena Gough (E91)
Helena Gough (E140)

First edition of 300 copies (out of print)
Second edition of 100 copies (2008; out of print)
Third edition of 100 copies (2010; out of print)

Digital edition (FLAC/MP3)

“Unpigeonholeable masterpiece”
Touching Extremes


What it takes to fully appreciate this work… are plenty of time
and a mind cleared from all superfluous thoughts and distractions.
All of us rely on expectations and a certain scheme of promises
and disappointments. Even the most wayward music eventually
settles in a comfortable mode of not giving in to what listeners
want to hear. ‘with what remains’ is different, though. It manages
to create the illusion of still being part of this string of reasoning,
while in reality it has long severed all ties. Gough is not a hermit,
but her style is a highly personal one, tapping into potentials which
are still communicable but which tend to release their information
in a way which inevitably changes some if its meaning in the
translation process: her sound materials are from her direct
domestic environment and consistently plucked apart to a point
where they can no longer be traced back to their place of origin.
In the ensuing process, new structures are established, placing
the elements in various contexts and waiting for them to blossom
on foreign fields. Decoding the building blocks of the tracks has
thereby become impossible, at least within the reasoning of
deductive logic. Also, by allowing the sounds to basically start
working on their own, the composer has entered the principle
of double-blindfolding and at least partly deducted herself from
the music. It is here that the album starts its fascination, for it
leaves the premises of a mere display of effects to start working
as a dialogue, even as a feedback loop which will in turn provide
its creator with valuable insights and creative stimuli for the future.
You simply can not predict where this is going: deep bass thumps
might lead to the cracklings of old vinyl, to purring particle chains
or to meditative drones stepping to the beat of an ancient gong.
As the different elements turn up again and again, it would even
be impossible to tell where exactly on the rotating disc of this
amorphic rockscape you are right now. To me, it also means that
the original intent of conceiving these soundworks as individual
spaces has not entirely worked out — rather, everything melts
into one single, big space, which you can enter and leave at will,
and which will retain its wondrousness regardless of how often
you walk its corridors.

Tobias Fischer at tokafi

Impossible to identify all the sources utilised herein, but one
picks up all manner of open-air recordings, closely miked micro-
events and pervasive electronics weaving in and out of the mix.
It’s actually not too diffcult to place oneself into a ‘room’ and
imagine walking through these sounds; there’s more than enough
apparent three-dimensionality to do so, a consistent thickness.
If I had to pick out a favourite, it might be Condensed Milk with
its juicy mix of liquid and cracking sounds embedded in a vaguely
metallic, dully echoing ambience. Something about the pieces
recalls classic electronic work by people like Gottfried Michael
Koenig and Dick Raaijmakers, rather heady company. I wouldn’t
go so far as to say that Gough’s music attains the heights of the
best of those fellows, but it’s not very far out of their league.
If you enjoy them, you’ll derive a good deal from her compositions
as well. Solid stuff.

Brian Olewnick at Bagatellen

A sending station of messages that we could even perceive as
takeaway illuminations, fragments of glorified externalisations
whose significance is not born from casualness but derives instead
from the very kernel of sound, modified by the skills of a bright-
minded electroacoustic architect who is “working to create some-
thing from nearly nothing”. This is with what remains, a brilliant
effort by Helena Gough, a Birmingham-based academically trained
composer and violinist, currently interested in exploiting the
“abstract properties” of everyday’s sounds, which she deploys
with extreme care and accuracy through a sensitive multicellular
method rarely observed before, at least by this listener. The
intrinsic qualities of what might just seem a collection of noises
to untrained ears are right there for the intellect to process,
but it takes much more than a distracted look to fully unveil this
record’s enormous value. Speckled mirrors, bumpy instant-
aneousness, biotic pseudo-tranquillity, all are just illusions of
a forward movement that we must repeatedly postpone to make
sure that these messages and codes are properly assimilated.
The germinations of Gough’s complex connections of decomposed
frequencies and impenetrable permanences produce superb aural
emulsions of otherwise extraneous substances, keeping us
suspended between a surgical reviviscence of our secret fears and
a special kind of ecstatic indecision that — once again — highlights
the retard of the human brain's predisposition to ‘classify’ and
‘define’ when facing pure acoustic noumena. It all translates as
‘unpigeonholeable masterpiece’, one of Entr’acte’s most
precious releases.

Massimo Ricci at Touching Extremes