- Title: Decay and Persistence
- Artist: Alice Kemp
- Cat. No: FRAG28
- Format: Limited Edition CD-R
- Release Year: 2013
- Order from Fragment Factory
Decay and Persistence is the result of Alice Kemp’s creative re-working of two tracks which were originally commissioned by Weeks and Whitford and created in collaboration with Alice for performances titled Warm Hands Cold Heart (performed in Serbia, 2012) and Il Mangiatore di Peccato (performed in Venice, 2012).
A hitherto unknown to us British sound artist, Alice Kemp seems to have honed her craft of cloak-n-dagger electroacoustics through the realms of performance art, with this long-form piece being a reworking of the sound designs that were commissioned by the performance art duo Weeks & Whitford. The imagery and allusions from Weeks & Whitford are gruesome (with Rebecca Weeks holding a malformed Eraserhead-like creature molded from livers and hearts in one of the photos accompanying this album) and spooky (a human hand made of frozen wine that melts all over a wedding dress worn by Weeks), in “tracing the scars that are left as the trophies of love.” Admittedly, there’s only the various project descriptions and photographic evidence of those pieces, but Kemp’s sound design must have been a disturbing, claustrophobic addition to those performances, as this album would easily make her an honorary member of the notorious Schimpfluch-Gruppe. In fact, she was invited to perform at the Extreme Ritual festival alongside all of the Schimpfluch artists (e.g. Rudolf Eb.Er, G*Park, Sudden Infant, Dave Phillips, Raionbashi, etc.) with the participants and audience members alike astonished / aghast at her work. The tick-tock rhythms of a clock brace empty spaces and shadowy rumblings of tactile sounds that could very well be the calving of massive icebergs or the amplifications of blood vessels hemorrhaging just underneath a trepanned skull. Taut wire snaps and VLF crackle slowly enter the fray as Kemp’s overarching composition follows what Nurse With Wound’s Stapleton did on Salt Marie Celeste, with a leviathan crawl of incremental psychic intensity. Lets hope this album isn’t just a minor excursion for Kemp; but as it stands now, this is all we know of… and it’s a pro-duplicated cd-r in a nice digipack with an edition of just 100 copies.
Jim Haynes, Aquarius Records
The release by Alice Kemp is the result of a re-working of music they (?) did for two performances by Rebecca Weeks and Ian Whitford and “these works were both part of the Wearing With Horns series, which focused on exploring fidelity, love and being in the continuously shifting landscape of a relationship. They charted a process of learning, its challenges, failures and successes, working with actions of disintegration and renewal and at other times tracing the scars that are left as the trophies of love”, so it says on the cover. It’s perhaps not something I would have easily guessed based upon what I was hearing. The piece here, lasting one hour, is quite interesting for those who like music by Schimpfluch or Dave Phillips. It’s quite loud in the way the sounds are recorded, but not really noise based. It has strong roots in the acoustic treatment of sound, with clocks ticking and the breaking of branches and leaves and in two instances there seems to be electronics in play. It's not that all of these sounds are played in real time it seems. Much of this seems to be in some looped form, which move in a irregular intervals, which keep the whole work quite vibrant. There are constant points of recognition, but the configurations are different. It takes well over the fifty-one minute for an entirely new clock sound to enter. While I didn't hear all of those aspects of the performance in here, I thought it was overall quite a fascinating piece of music. Loud, noise based, but without mindless distortion. Excellent release.
Vital Weekly #899
Its one hour long track creates tension and unease through the ticking of clocks [singular and multi-tracked], thunder like rumbles, trees being torn up by the roots and balsa wood being squeezed. Augmented by a series of pops, crackles, silences, laboratory bubbles, underwater burbles, traffic in tunnel drones and heavy furniture being moved around in the flat upstairs it bears comparison to Eb.er’s equally disturbing hour long work “Kotschleuder”, right down to the offal but with a trapped fly replacing the clocks. At times it becomes meditative, whether there are loops in there I know not but its repetitive nature sucks you in, the clocks become metronomes [perhaps they are metronomes, metronomes mixed with clocks] bombs go off in distant streets. A tense, haunting work.