li is the random but recognisable patterning found in many aspects of nature – the grain in wood or the fibre in muscle. While it is easy to recognise, it is impossible to define. li_series elaborates on this ‘thematic overlapping’ by combining sonic works alongside new commissioned texts.
This series of 10 collaborative assemblies are released as a printed A5 text, audio download and high quality 7×5 photo print.
Audio: Storm Katie by Dirty Hope
Text: Storm Katie by Gerard McKeever
Broken20 continue the li_series, a set of collaborations between sound artists and the written word, released as a high-quality print with download code.
Second in the series is ‘Storm Katie’ by Dirty Hope, aka label accomplice Production Unit (Dave Donnelly). The piece is a collaboration with Scottish writer Gerard McKeever, whose piece, also entitled ‘Storm Katie’, uses the audio to leap towards notions of bewilderment and tenderness.
Broken20’s Art Director David Fyans once again provides the imagery for this release. He restructures the found objects used on li_series-01 (TVO’s ‘Installation Pieces’), giving further clues to the visual language he’ll build throughout the duration of the project.
‘Storm Katie’ was written during two frenzied March nights as the eponymous storm raged around Donnelly’s studio. He recounts: “I’d had a bit of an epiphany the day before, listening to The Necks and absorbing their ideas of slowness, how an idea can be gently teased out over a single long track. The melodic and textural elements arrived more or less fully formed. Then the storm broke.”
“This idea for a track, coupled with the severe weather and the fact that it bore my daughter’s name, combined into an unusually intense writing process. I’ve used my experiences as a parent before for artistic inspiration, most obviously on the ICU Tracks EP for Broken20, so I was able to channel the sense of volatility or unpredictability I’ve known through Katie and her health problems, as well as eventual gratitude for our mutual shelter, of sorts, from her life’s many storms.”
In the spirit of the li_series, McKeever uses Donnelly’s soundtrack to compose text that compliments it rather than directly mapping word to music. His story evokes the chaos of the storm while also celebrating the sense of peace that’s found through escaping, or enduring, its ravages.
Having begun work on a film collaboration with Broken20 super-friend Mark Lyken, Scottish writer and academic McKeever is publishing a series of short stories. He publishes a range of scholarship and journalism, with novel projects ongoing. Occasional poetry has appeared in ‘Last Days Of Analogue’ (which also featured Erstlaub’s Marconi’s Shipwreck – b20_08) and ‘The Kelvingrove Review’.
Returning to the music, the opening of the 42 minute audio owes as much to classic goth, shoegaze and dystopian post-rock as it does to the Australian improvising troupe. Vast echoing guitars vie for prominence with processed rainfall and delicate percussive interplay
Over time, the sense of foreboding diminishes, and breezy, languid rhodes piano enters alongside a loping drum beat. The piece settles into a groove of sorts, as Donnelly seeks to evoke a feeling of protection from the raging winds and driving rain.
The track shifts once again, veering more towards Donnelly’s electronic roots as heavily bit-crunched African percussion breaks the surface. It develops further into Steve Reich-influenced polyrythmic pulses, building in complexity while droning overprocessed guitars provide counterpoint. Donnelly says he wanted to create an “anti-raindance” at this point, banishing the storm through ceremonial sound. One can feel the individual raindrops being willed back to the sky through complex melodic and numerical patterns within patterns.
But storms are never banished so much as weathered, so as the brittle instrumentation falls away or breaks under the strain of gradual bit-reduction, the sound of rain re-emerges, until once again it occupies the full sonic spectrum and fades to a peaceful silence.
McKeever’s ‘Storm Katie’ follows a similar route, never seeking to disregard the downpour so much as revel in its power, its near-sentience: the “heartbeat in the thunder”. Assessing both contributions, it seems that both artists understand the need for patience, humility and kinship in the face of hardship.