A car journey. two silent passengers. it’s morning, but dark.
Very dark; A visit to a glacier, alone, finding shelter from
the arctic winds in cracks and fissures; A long tunnel,
a huge walled canopy. Are these interior or exterior spaces?
Seljalandsfoss, Gullfoss and Skogafoss; A rift valley at
Þingvellir where the North American and Eurasian tectonic
plates meet. The river flows down into the valley, where
a frozen lake begins to thaw in the sunlight; Two friends
venture out to find Glymur, the highest waterfall in Iceland,
braving mountain rivers and sheer cliffs, but are unable
to reach their goal; Chunks of ice and snow collide in a
In early 2007 Simon (alongside visual artists Kathryn
Thomas and Tamany Baker) was invited to exhibit his
work in Reykjavik City Hall, as part of the annual Winter
Lights Festival. During this visit he explored the Icelandic
countryside and city streets, making new recordings.
These form the basis of Fractures. The title is an obvious
reference to the glacial landscape of Iceland, but also to
the tension within the group of artists during the trip.
This kind of music, a kind of sculpted work made from field
recordings, seems to be increasingly common these days.
It feels slower than musique concrète, with longer samples
of sounds used than that genre is more commonly associated
with. Perhaps as portable digital recording has become easier
and cheaper in recent years, and as just about everyone has
software capable of simple sound collage on their computers
anyone can make this type of music without too much effort
or skill. So as there are more and more CDs of this kind
available, so we need a little more originality and creativity
from the musicians to stand out above the crowd. The subject
matter of the field recordings will often be very similar on
these releases as well, with running water, hydrophone
recordings, traffic sounds and crowd scenes all very common
indeed. As Whetham uses recordings he made out on and
around glaciers alongside the sounds of Iceland’s capital city,
most of the aforementioned list of sounds appear throughout
Fractures. Water sounds in particular feature heavily.
So is the album any good or just another release along predict-
able lines? Well, it is predictable to some degree, but there
are other elements in there that turn the ear, and the overall
composition of the sounds is really rather good, with attention
paid to the way sounds fit together. [More...]
Richard Pinnell at The Watchful Ear
This has a very cinematic feel, though Whetham gives equal
time to (what sound like) natural phenomena, often having
a roaring aspect, and human activity, including snatches of
conversation, footfalls and various engines. Much of it is quiet,
barely there rustling and, as such, is very pleasant to listen
to. Fractures works very nicely and is well worth hearing by
fans of the territory.
Brian Olewnick at Just outside