Tuesday, 1 February 2011

15 questions to Harry Towell/Spheruleus | Interview on Tokafi

INTRO (Tobias Fischer, Tokafi)
There's nothing inherently mysterious about working with sound. Sometimes, in fact, it simply means giving in to the simple pleasures in life: Not all too long ago, at a time when most of Britain was hiding from an unexpected bout of „snow of considerable proportion“, Lincolnshire's Harry Towell put the extreme climatic conditions to good use by spending the entire day roaming the countryside with childlike curiosity, trudging through the white with his portable recorder and listening to the soles of his shoes creating gnashing, grating and gritting little patterns in the snow. Back home, most likely over a hot, steaming cup of coffee, he then arranged his found sonic objects into what would become the 2009 debut album of his Spheruleus project, The Disguised Familiar. It is telling that Towell didn't just degrade the field recordings resulting from the hike as a backdrop to his drones and ambient textures, but rather respectfully treated them as music in their own right, aiming for his melodies and harmonies to bring out the beauty of the sounds and not the other way round. The episode, recounted in more depth on the artist's MySpace site, may seem trivial. But it goes a long way in defining the territory which has served as a home for Spheruleus ever since: Perhaps due to Towell growing up in a rural surrounding, nature plays an essential role in his oeuvre, its quietude, moods and beauty extolled by the covers of his releases, its sounds seamlessly integrated into the textures of the compositions, its shapes mimicked by their organic architecture and flowing arrangements. Rather than seeking to conceptually translate physical landscapes to the world of sound, Towell is creating his own, personalised environments, equally intimate and mysterious spaces marked by „blurred perspectives“ and „silent collisions“, by rot and decay – in short, by the eternal cycle of life and death. It is a kind of music which doesn't just re-attune the senses of the listener, but effectively makes them perceptive to the seemingly imperceptible hidden underneath the surface: On the follow-up to The Disguised Familiar, A Vision Obscurred, time first stands still and then it fades away completely, leaving nothing but an infinite horizon over a solitary landscape of absolute forms and objects across which, with spectre-like weightlessness, the dreamy guitar lines of his brother Stuart sail like blood red clouds. This time, propelled by „deeply personal reflections“, the path was leading inwards, to the subconscious as a place of unworked-through emotions. As in a surrealist painting, one can still clearly identify the multitude of metaphors and references – anyone who's read Towell's list of favourites knows the eclecticism of his taste as well as his insatiable appetite for new and fresh sounds – but their meaning has been strangely deformed. If these scenes should occasionally seem to take on Freud'ean qualities, then that is by no means a coincidence: Towell's only release so far under the guise of Eyes Flutter Beneath wasn't called Inside the Dream Laboratory for nothing after all, and quite a few of the fifteen-minute EPs of his Audio Gourmet label are marked by a similar feeling of spinning out into the fantastical. This, of course, is the real reason for the outwardly mysterious facade of working with sound in general and Spheruleus's oeuvre in particular: The mere act of juxtaposition and re-contextualising can turn even the simplest, every-day items into spiritual symbols.

INTERVIEW: (Tobias Fischer, Tokafi with Harry Towell, Spheruleus)
VISIT http://www.tokafi.com/15questions/15-questions-harry-towell-spheruleus to read the full interview

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