Max Eastley | Installation Recordings: 1973-2008 | Paradigm Discs | 2010
This 2CD is essentially a retrospective of Eastley’s installation work. As such, it updates and adds many new examples to the 1975 release “New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments”, which was released as a split LP with David Toop on Brian Eno’s Obscure Records.
This is Eastley’s first solo CD. Of the 35 tracks, only the last 2 have any guests or ‘playing’ (the most virtuosic moment being George Lewis playing a grass blade). All the other pieces are either powered by the natural forces of wind and water, or else are motor driven gallery installations.
The ethereal sounds of the aeolian harp, the haunting aeolian flutes, and the violent tension of his aerophone installations are hallmark Eastley sounds. These sounds, and many others, sit amidst a wide range of acoustic settings, from windy hill tops to quiet brooks, residential street scenes to coastal shores. The indoor recordings are no less varied, ranging across a rich variety of acoustics and gallery spaces from tiny micro sounds to large scale amplification. Wood, metal and stone are brought to life with electricity.
Although there are many photos in the 20 page booklet, much is left to the imagination to work out how the sounds are made. With this limited access to the visual, the focus is pulled towards the musicality of the sounds themselves. This musicality is reinforced by the slow crossfades of most of the pieces from indoors to outdoors to form a series of suites.
The recordings mostly date from the mid 70s, but there are pieces from later decades. Nearly everything was recorded either to Revox or Uher and occasionally cassette, using what microphones were available at the time. Recent recordings are digital. The varying quality of the recording set-ups across this 2CD adds yet another dimension to the shifting sound fabric of this anthology.