Arhythmia was the second album released by Oophoi on his Umbra label and used only sounds of acoustic origin including voice. It was recorded using only 2 microphones and Korg D16.
The album was inspired by the interaction, inter-relationship of the many cycles and rhythms in nature, such as our breathing, our pulse and the firing of our neurons. The movement created by the rhythms of the Sun, Moon and seasons. All these patterns slip and slide past, in and through each other without ‘quantisation’, without the rigid locking patterns of most of the music we listen to.
I played with the original idea in the late 70’s, using tape loops of different lengths and different machines so that the patterns created movement, sections of hiatus and then crescendo. Each moment creating something new.
Arhythmia was re-released on the Hypnos Secret Sounds label (www.hypnos.com
) in 2011. For this version I created a 5 track version (the D16 could not do this)
I have also created a single track of parts II and IV of the album I particularly liked and include this in the release.
The rhythms in Arythmia can be felt but not danced to.
I have been told it is not a relaxing album as the body seems to find it disorientating and the mind does not seem to understand why. The first day I had the finished disc I made the mistake of listening to it as I went to bed. About ¾ of the way through I decided I was going to listen to the whole thing even if it bloody killed me - I did not get a good night’s sleep after it finished.
One poor person got a copy to review – without the sleeve notes which explained the nature of the music - and said it gave them a thumping headache.
I hope you enjoy the music.
Vital Weekly bit.ly/fTjnMy
On CDR we find the second re-issue of work by Seren Ffordd, just like 'Stellar Nurseries' (see Vital Weekly 712), which was also first released by Umbra. Like before the instruments are listed here: singing bowls, chimes, voice, gourds and Korg 016. The idea behind the release is about cycles, patterns and rhythms, but do not expect some beat related music, but simple patterns that slowly evolve and revolve. The fourth part of this has rhythm 'as we know it', but in the other four pieces Ffordd uses loops of varying lengths which he cleverly layers together in ever changing patterns. Not just some isolationist droning experience, but an always changing pattern of a wide variety of sounds. Streetsounds, bells being strum with a bow, rhythmic playing of chimes and such like gives us five examples of how this relatively simple idea is worked out. Quite a different album than 'Stellar Nurseries', but throughout a very fine album of changing, cyclical mood music. (FdW)
Ross Baker (aka Second Thought)
I'm a sucker for atmosphere conjured up by samples, so the rainy sounds at the start of Seren Ffordd's Arhythmia put me in a positive mood to get into the album. Not that positive is the most obvious word to describe this music - this is sinister stuff. The rain continues through the first track (simply titled I), its pattering slowly forming a quiet loop that causes a rhythm so slight it is most comparable to catching something out of the corner of your eye. Similarly, as the ever-descending moaning drones that appear as the album morphs into part II continue to fall into a dark ambient abyss, a feeling of endless repetition occurs, and the unnerving rattling that slowly fades in around the halfway mark acts to punctuate this looping feeling. This music truly delivers rhythm and pace without ever approaching beats or drive.
Bell chimes introduce the third movement and very slowly we begin to ascent from the mire into an open, airy sound that reflects the acoustic nature of the album (as with the best abstract works, all recordings are acoustic sounds electronically treated). Bell sounds reverberate all around, constantly suggesting rhythm and form but without ever succumbing to loops or repetition.
A slow, broad wind draws upon us and introduces the penultimate section of the album, drawing us back towards the darker aspects of the record's first half. Quiet, echoed sounds appear in the background, suggesting some sound far off being carried towards us on the wind. Sinister whispers swirl around and approaching a rhythmic nature but always suggesting a more formless, amorphous sound. Suddenly, rain reappears, announcing the final quarter of an hour, this time accompanied by what sounds like a loop of car swiftly passing by on the rain-soaked road; a loop which begins as a pedestrian sounding sample but becomes sinister and even intimidating after continual repetition. Another tapestry of dark droning and rumbling occurs somewhere in the background, adding a further sense of unease to the increasingly disturbing car loop. This texture fades away incredibly slowly, easing you back into reality.
Arhythmia is a fascinating and incredibly mature work of sound design and audio manipulation which flirts with isolationist drone and dark ambient but never submits to its clichés, instead following a path of its own; a path which is not necessarily easy to travel, but is ultimately incredible satisfactory.
Interestingly with a title like Arhythmia, the artwork on the front of this one looks much like the inside of a heart valve, albeit softened in both texture and color. As for the music, hopefully it won’t give you any cardiac trouble. Darker and more experimental than his other discs, here Seren Ffordd takes us into what he calls “an exploration of rhythms that can be heard and felt but not danced to.” Rumbling and churning sounds are joined by a steady rain in the background. Seren Ffordd notes that the music is divided into five parts, although it plays as a single track. The movements are distinct and easily identifiable. The rain and rumbles fade away and are gone within 15 seconds of the start of part II, which takes a long slow descent to parts unknown. It plays like an infinite downward spiral, a rather creepy but cool effect. Unusual brushing sounds pan back and forth forming a unique percussive element. Its clear by this point that the disc is more sound collage than music in the conventional sense. Metallic bells ring out to start part III, and we breathe a sigh of relief as the ominous rumbling drones from part II gradually disappear. Though still quite stark and minimal, this part is bright and cheery by comparison. Part IV swirls similarly to part II, though in more of a holding pattern than a deep dive. I’d call it grey noise rather than white. This one plays like a blank canvas for your mind to imagine various subtleties that may or may not be there. The last part follows a similar pattern, creating another unique sound world to explore for the last 15 minutes before coming back to reality. Arhythmia is daring adventurous fun.