::: we share a shadow :::
::: helen scarsdale ::: cd ::: 2007 :::
Murmer is the pseudonym for Patrick McGinley, a man with several passports which have taken him to many a foreign land in search of found sounds of the unsettled, the forgotten, the mysterious, and the beautiful. His field recordings of activated environments (e.g. resonant industrial spaces, windswept telephone lines, bowed branches, gasping ventilator systems, etc.) originate from all of the locations where he has traveled; yet, the documentation of these sounds is not the terminus of McGinley’s work. He is far more interested in extracting a particular emotional, transcendent, or metaphysical kernel from those sounds, and then recontextualizing that germinated sound into sympathetic compositions of magnificent dronemusik.
‘We Share A Shadow’ continues where Murmer left off with the exceptional ‘Husk’ album (in collaboration with Jonathan Coleclough), in spiraling his manipulated field recordings as a slow revelation of the environmental sonorities that undeservedly go unnoticed each and every day. Singing frequencies of a bowed piece of metal undulate against a grey tapestry of rain and rasping insects. Golden overtones from shimmering drones quell what agitated textures reside in McGinley’s active field recordings, rendering the aggregate sound a nocturnal opiate with considerable potency.
We Share A Shadow is strictly limited to 300 copies, featuring hand water-coloured artwork and letterpress printing.
::: liner notes :::
01: part one (27:48)
02: part two (18:35)
sounds collected in the uk, portugal, france, estonia, and germany. conceived and composed in london (uk) & mooste (ee), 2004 – 2006. many thanks to moks and to the nevill.
“were someone to ask me what it is that i’m doing, i would probably say that i’m trying to forget myself.” – jeph jerman
::: reviews :::
Murmer is the recording name of Patrick McGinley, whose regular Resonance FM show Framework documents his immersion in field recordings. Beautifully presented with handpainted watercolour inserts in an edition of only 300, We Share a Shadow puts this obsession into practice. McGinley’s focus is on “activated environments”: the drones of air conditioning boxes, the low penetratng vibration of power cables, the thrum of factory production and the rumble of industrial sites. These are the sounds we normaly discount and subconsciously render in audible, the unheard elements of everyday life. What McGinley does is more them in from the shadows by bringing silence vividly to life. The first piece is an extended drone of ringing steel and static crackle. The tone swells glacially as if God’s own finger was moving on a singing bowl rim the size of a planet’s orbit. The effect is immersive and mesmeric, the soundscape luminous and immobile in the stereo field. Rather than background sounds brought to the foreground, they feel like the vial hum of the fabric of existence itself microscopically and metaphysically amplified. The second piece has more identifiably musical elements. Metallic chimes ring like the clatter of scaffold being assembled, and burts of static shift from left to right. The elements stack and build into a roiling whole. Again the listener is drawn by the austerity of the elements into deep listening, where every sound pulses with energy and kinetic potential.
::: nick southgate ::: the wire, march 2008 :::
Minimal drone records normally depend to a certain extent on text to help interpret their meaning. Often by the artist’s words we can better sense a mood that an electoracoustic piece is supposed to inspire. Of course, the real meat is in the pulse, and whether it can stand on its own independent from verbal description. Aside from a list of places where the found sounds on the disc were recorded—in Eastern Europe, Portugal, as well as in the U.S.—the traditional liner notes that normally indicate a way of understanding the intent behind We Share a Shadow is omitted. This allows one to listen to these two long tracks with a sense of freedom which, I suspect, was the motive behind their composition. Murmer is Patrick McGinley, who here blends environmental sounds with drone and the occasional horn. For an ambient record, there is a menace here as well, as several sections imply a biting commentary on the environments sampled. There is always a sense of wonder and forboding in any sound, driven by the space itself or by the mood of the listener. Histories personal and temporal collide on We Share a Shadow, and Murmer captures that tension with understated power.
::: mike wood ::: foxy digitalis, february 2008 :::
Strive for the authentic, the real. That’s the typical ideology behind field recordings and sound colleges. As art, they’re more like a photograph or interview, a document of what is already there. Murmer takes a different approach. The group [sic. Mumer is but one individual named Patrick McGingley — ed.] uses found sounds to invent brand new landscapes instead of recording a pre-existing one. In a record store version of the universe, the natural sounds are catalogued somewhere between smooth jazz and Native American drumming. Their stated purpose is relaxation, to sublimate the mind to into catatonic receptiveness. This notion of nature as a sedative is misleading. Without sting of a winter breeze, or the weight of the summer sun, these recordings are fables of what nature really is. We Share a Shadow is not an exercise in soothing escapism. The effect is more visceral. Using field recordings captured one locations in Europe and North America, Murmer combines them seamlessly. Whatever context the sounds orignally had is not buried an atmosphere of pure gloom. The bellowing horns and jangling cowbells on the first track may be unrelated to the rainstorm that they emerge from, but together they harmonize to invoke primordial night. One the second track, insects, piano, and metallic scrapes merge together, sounding like a decrepit factory come shuddering back to life. By avoiding the literalist conventions of the genre, Murmer is free to explore emotional impact that sound has on us. The control of mood on the album is almost musical, and much more nuanced than its isolated components.
::: matthew spencer ::: brainwashed, january 2008 :::
Releases on the Helen Scarsdale label are usually nicely packed and this new one is not different. As far as I recall this is the second CD for Murmer, also known as Patrick McGinley from America. However, he’s a traveller, living in various parts of this world for some time, and then moves. In each of these locations he is present with his recorder and tapes the environment. This has brought him to England, Portugal, France, Estonia and Germany. In the development of his work he has moved from using a simple four track machine and external sound effects to the computer. McGinley is however not ‘just’ a field recordist. It’s part of what he does. He also uses environments to play sounds using objects, like metal rods and balls. This variety of recordings is the foundation of his work: recordings of the environment and sounds played in it. In the third stage he treats his work on the computer and creates stylish pieces of drone music. This is what ties him to the Helen Scarsdale family, the dark drone relatives. Two long tracks of heavy rain fall that grow over the course of time into heavily computerized pieces of music, which work well on the atmospheric level. Perhaps as such he is not the one of the original players on the crowded scene, but his work can meet the best of his English counterparts, in particular Jonathan Coleclough and Colin Potter.
::: frans de waard ::: vital weekly, december 2007 :::
In travel one wishes to be taken over by the journey, by absence, a kind of giddy whirling that the mind savors and the body eventually abhors. Others such as Patrick McGinley prove more capable of enduring these travels, nursing out of them a way of life. Owing to his stomach for this nomadic lifestyle, We Share A Shadow forms a distinct lattice lined by materials, textures, and colors seldom seen, much less scrutinized by a culture where ‘elsewhere’ and ‘other’ usually mean a diverted copulation with the ‘same’. Field recordings are culled from England, France, Estonia, Germany, and Portugal. McGinley also interacts with the objects in these respective environments, bowing branches, telephone wires, and the like. These are then arranged and otherwise altered by a computer, churning out drones of some clarity, execution, and intensity of feeling. These computerized pieces of drone music never efface the field recordings they bury; they encrypt them, but all the while keep them inside, tucked away like secrets or indistinct sources of warmth that ensure an easy intimacy is audible in the encounters, no matter how alien they may seem to become. The unfolding itself involves a ritualistic placement of discrete sounds in fields of tense silences, machine-like scrape and clatter, evocative textures, abstraction and coloristic patterning, various kinds of bowing, and polyryhthmic taps. That such disparity is used means that a certain austerity seeps in now and again, but this serves as a foil for the sort of development McGinley pursues, one in which sounds are gradually enriched in depth and vividness, adumbrating an enveloping multi-level experience. In this way, McGinley points to and shelters the uneasy vicissitudes of his travels in beads of rain, oddly vicious prolonged metallic shimmer, and vast abscesses of darkling ambience – a complex path, but a scenic one.
::: max schaefer ::: earlabs, march 2008 :::