karu:7 - Lawrence English - For Varying Degrees of Winter
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Sefronia (FR) - December 2009
Text by Hugo Catherine

"For varying degrees of winter" est intensément lumineux, façon faisceau continu et lumière blanche éblouissante. Des scintillements et des micro-crépitements s'assemblent puis se perdent dans un flux de lumière persistant. Il se dégage une matière dense aveuglante, d'où s'échappent éclairs et flashs.

Cette densité est parfois intimidante, comme sur "Desert road" : la nature gronde et grince. Comme le titre de l'album semble l'indiquer, Lawrence English s'inspire d'une certaine idée de la nature, brute et indomptée. Nous imaginons des territoires perdus, loin de la présence humaine; les sons tracent une onde à l'infini, sur des surfaces immensément planes ; dans une atmosphère plutôt glaciale, ils se propagent sans fin : nous hésitons entre banquise du froid polaire, vents des steppes, profonds courants marins. "For varying degrees of winter" est une interprétation abstraite d'une perception très concrète de la nature : une sensation faite son.

Lawrence English refuse l'agression sonore. Il privilégie un jeu discret autour de sa matière sonore, d'une finesse et d'une qualité rares. Il travaille ainsi à partir de sons à la limite du perceptible (ultra-aigus sur "Fleck"), de micro-événements quasiment inaperçus (beats étouffés sur "End game", incursions de voix sur "Fleck", micro-bruits sur "Soft touch"), de signaux lointains presque insignifiants (hululements sur "Unsettled sleep"). Tous ces sons nourrissent une matière ultra-haute concentration, créant une sensation de confinement, voire d'isolement. Cette musique pèse. "Swan", particulièrement, agit comme un poids sonore tant les forces qui en surgissent nous enveloppent et nous recouvrent. Cette notion d'isolement est pertinente pour analyser l'univers sonore de Lawrence English : il fut un des premiers à créer des pistes électroniques à destination des personnes aux capacités auditives déficientes.

Pour vos nuits et jours d'hiver, nous vous invitons à couvrir vos oreilles de ce très beau son-lumière. (9/10)

Sound Proector (RU) - February 2009
Text by Pi Micron

Australian musician and audio-designer Lawrence English - one of the most interesting person in modern experimental music, in particular - in microelectronics and in ambient. Perhaps, we can call him Taylor Deupree on the other side of the Earth, because both of them, besides very similar solo creativity, are the owners of the related under the concept labels - 12k and Room40, which specialize in experimental ambient and sound-design.

As we can see from the name For Varying Degrees of Winter, the basic theme of the music is winter. Probably, many works of the modern microelectronicians can be brought to this theme, because compositions are represented in the certain frozen substance, which breaks up into the smallest particles and emits thin squeak, drones and rustles, which we are ready to listen to attentively with pleasure. But this music is not squeezed and clamped with such popular concept as microwave. Amazing transfer of space, depth and emotion of the whole musical picture, which is transfered by the minimal set of sounds - these are the features which will allocate the given album among the other "frozen" microelectronics. Completely not short tracks reach an infinite ambient-cloth with a thin cold noise. The composition is not static - it constantly varies eventually, making "dry" electronic sounds alive as if the nature whispers them to us from under a thick layer of snow.
As we can see, this Australian musician for years of work in the sphere of audio-design has deduced the unique formulas of sound influence on the human. All the tracks of the album For Varying Degrees of Winter will force you to stiffen and... to listen.

Synthetic Club (RU) - June 2008
Text by Maeror3

Synthetic Club, June 2008

Textura (CA) - March 2008
Text by Ron Schepper

Lawrence English's musical approach lends itself naturally to For Varying Degrees of Winter. The meditative material's pure and glassy character is, yes, thoroughly wintry, and its sleek surfaces are as slippery as ice. Paradoxically, the release's six settings aren't alienating but suffused with warmth and, though they're bereft of conventional melody, aren't lacking in musicality. Speckles of snow dot the material ("Fleck") and ripples of freezing winds blow across the tundra too ("Soft Touch"). The ROOM40 label head is joined on this outing by guests Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer, and Aki Onda, each of whom brings something different to his respective piece: Cooper's cryptic guitar shadings intensifies the desolation of the ponderous drone "Desert Road," Schaefer's electronics gracefully illuminate the glacial drone "Swan," and Onda's tape contributions heighten the crepuscular evocation "Unsettled Sleep" which suggests a dreamer's troubled visions of the seaside and harbour.

The Sound Projector (UK) - December 2007
Text by Ed Pinsent

The Australian sound artist who has a strong interest in the environment, here exploring specific aspects of the winter weather in a very personal way... actually it could be more of a travelogue record tha a weather record. No field recordings here (as far as we know), rather a lot of reprocessed electronic materials which were fetched back from (or inspired by) his travels around Japan, China, and Europe. He doesn't bring us aural picture postcards, but instead entirely subjective memories of these locales, translated into a language which we can understand; but the final private resonances must remain his own. A piece like 'Fleck' here is clearly informed by wistful and nostalgic memories, but what was behind his mind's eye at the time we shall never know. Instead, better to pursue our own line of thought and revisit our personal memory banks, using these musical statements as soundtracks to help us unlock those mental vaults. The more minimal English gets, the better for me; I prefer the near-empty tones of 'Fleck', and the gorgeous airy spaces of 'Swan', to the more filled-out 'End Game'. However, the 'End Game' opening track (which makes many consumer-friendly nods towards Fennesz, for example) turns out to be fairly unrepresentative of the rest of the record, which gets bleaker and more desolate as it progresses. 'Soft Touch' and 'Unsettled Sleep' in particular are more successful in limning real, imaginery and remembered landscapes with the subtlety of a watercolour painter. The CD features contributions from guests Janek Schaefer, Aki Onda and Mike Cooper.

The Silent Ballet (US) - November 2007
Text by Jordan Volz

Sound installation; sound art; experimental, minimal, ambience: all of these are ways to describe the works of Lawrence English, Australian audio/visual artist.

There is a high learning curve for enjoying this type of music. I'm not talking about being amicable towards it, but really getting in there and loving it to pieces -- many can't stomach it and never will be able to. We're brought up to recognize and appreciate conventional forms and structures, and those who so readily discard them are rebellious and surely up to no good. The first thing that's necessary to do before listening to For Varying Degrees of Winter is to throw away what you thought you knew about music. There's a general understanding that calling any kind of music 'background music' is a highly offensive and demoralizing attack against the artist in question. But, what happens when the intent is to make background music from the onset? Then all the rules begin to change.

The catch-22 of experimental music has always been that if you don't like it then you're not appreciating the subtleties, but, if you appreciate the subtleties and like it, then the artist isn't trying hard enough and has created an album which is too accessible and thus invaluable (ergo not experimental). Circular logic for the indie elitist -- you gotta love it. Contemporary soundsculptors seek to eradicate this illogical trap. Sound exists all around us as a continual byproduct of the processes of life, and there is no way to stop it. How many times have you been listening to your favorite albums and someone comes into the room and begins talking so loudly they disrupt the flow of the album? Or how about trying to listen to an album on a noisy bus or train? How do cookie-cutter albums stand up to those pressures?

Then, it may come as no surprise, given the setup, that the current goal is to resolve this issue: to create music that is universally complementary and fits any occasion. Many of these sound installations originally appear accompanying other forms of art (visual, art exhibits, etcetera), but they need not be limited to these circumstances. Every location where these pieces are installed is an entirely new and rewarding performance where this music sinks into the background and augments the normal flow of sounds. It's utterly ambitious, but many of these pioneering artists have become so proficient at their skill that they're churning out upwards of five or more CDs a year. That would be an insane expectation of studio artists, but these guys barely break a sweat and are constantly raising the bar and keeping the quality level high enough to keep critics at bay.

Lawrence English's new disc strikes me as particularly adept at moving in and out of the scenery. The passive sounds dissipate into the air and control the general audible space which is then filled in with other noises. I'd recommend not listening to this in a quiet setting, as it only minimizes its potential effect. Take it out like a brand new car, discover it discovering the nuances of your neighborhood, house, local traffic, and more. It might even be more appropriate to treat it as if it were a child, slowly growing with each listen while you become more and more attached to it with each passing second. It almost doesn't even matter what English puts down on record, if he does it right, it's all up to the listener anyway.

Pyramid Arts & Literature Magazine (US) - November 2007
Text by Joe Lana

Therapeutic, relaxing and tranquil are just a few words that describe this experimental effort by Lawrence English. Recorded between 2005 and 2006 in several different countries including Italy, this unusual mix of sounds and effects ended up capturing my imagination and taking it on a journey. Being a musician and listening to a cd that doesn't have your typical instruments, I thought I couldn't relate, but I found a different kind of inspiration and embraced it. The group's record label is Baskaru, a company that deals mostly with experimental electronic music and sound art. Through their website, www.baskaru.com, you can purchase this cd and browse through their other titles specializing in this type of music.

Signal To Noise (US) - August 2007
Text by Richard Moule

Brisbane sound artist (and Signal to Noise contributor) Lawrence English recorded this 36-minute album between the summers of '05 and '06 in locations as widespread as Brisbane, Valencia, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, Switzerland and Italy. While it is difficult to tell when and where each of these laptop sound designs were composed, we can at least base a guess on titles like "Desert Road". Others, like "Fleck", "Swan" and "Unsettled Sleep", are cloaked in ambiguity and mystery; vague signifiers. Indeed, over the course of his releases, English, who also curates the label Room 40, has been interested in mapping out this kind of ambiguity between mental and physical environments and spaces in his lower case compositions. "End Game" 's central component is an intertwining of slow phase, crystalline organ and sharp, steely rings over a bed of contrasting humid, tropical, percussive ambience of static and insect-like scurrying. "Flecks", of course, are defined as small marks and streaks on a surface, and here an austere, desolate vista of gently, muffled wind-like howls is gradually subsumed by looped static and crackles, Oval-style, like flakes faintly tapping against a window. This sense of dislocation, desolation and alienation is further amplified on "Desert Road", where ominous, wide open bass drones cast the desert as threatening, malevolent place, largely due to guitarist Mike Cooper's sustained, rippled phrasing. "Swan", "Soft Touch" and "Unsettled Sleep" could be the companion pieces to "Fleck" until Janek Schaefer's sucking-like vacuum power electronics kick in on "Swan" and Aki Onda's eerie whistling manipulations hover around the floating particles of "Unsettled Sleep" until the clanging and banging of the coda, like awakening from a peaceful reverie to find yourself beside a construction site. It's a disconcerting way to end an album, that like the season of snow, ice or rain, has been a balm of meditation and contemplation.

Octopus (FR) - June 2007
Text by Laurent Catala

C'est au coeur de la glace, de sa texture feuilletée et de ses craquements de surface, que l'artiste sonore Lawrence English trouve l'inspiration sur ce For Varying Degrees Of Winter. Une inspiration indolente, cryogénisée comme la matière d'apparence inerte mais aux glissements inattendus qui lui sert de support. Progressivement, une impression de mobilité diffuse s'installe au fil de morceaux elliptiques, finement contrastés entre un isolement d'apparence et une proximité sonore allant crescendo. Des détails audios se dévoilent (comme à travers les interventions electronica de Janek Schaefer sur "Swan"), des nappes onduleuses se forment ("Soft Touch"), conférant au disque une allure picturale confinée.

Goon (DE) - June 2007
Text by Jens Pacholsky

Was hat uns die Musique Concrète eigentlich noch zu offenbaren? Gesagt wurde auf dieser Suche nach dem Sound im Sound, der Mikrokosmosharmonie im grossen Ganzen, dem Göttlichen im Profanen eigentlich schon alles. Vom Überfluss und Krach zur Leere und Transformation des Nichtmusikalischen zum Melodiösen, von sich selbst generierenden Kompositionen zur Komplexstrukturierung unabhängiger Klangmomente. Manchmal war es Experiment, manchmal Jazz, manchmal Meditation, manchmal ernst gemeinter Dadaismus. Lawrence English befindet sich seit über einem Jahrzehnt auf der Suche nach neuen Klangräumen, kurierte mehrere Ausstellungen in Australien und Singapur (u.a. mit Scanner) und erschuf Installationen in Tokyo, Brisbane, Frankfurt und Barcelona.

Wirklich neues kann der Australier sicherlich auch auf seinem dritten Soloalbum (neben den vergangenen One-Track-Releases und Split-Projekten) nicht offenbaren. Dennoch begeht er nicht den Fehler, die fehlende Originalität durch eine aufgesetzte Akademisierung des Extremen zu ersetzen. Vielmehr sind seine sechs Titel feinfühlige Reisen an die Grenze des Hörbaren, welche an sich jedoch fulminant strukturiert sind. Der Mediakünstler und Komponist zieht sich nicht in Leerräume zurück, überrumpelt auch nicht durch schieren Noise oder eine chaotische Verwüstung durch Klangkollisionen. Schon gar nicht versucht er, des Electronica-Musikers liebstes Steckenpferd, die Gitarre, vergeblich neu zu erfinden, auch wenn deren Saiten an der einen oder anderen Stelle erklingen. "For Varying Degrees of Winter" bettet den Hörer vielmehr in die Schönheit sich verschachtelnder Klangflächen, wie sie Brian Eno mit seiner "Ambient"-Serie Ende der 1970er Jahre aus Klangverschiebungen gekitzelt hat. In seinen besten Momenten erinnert English auch an die stillen Bewegungen von Seefeels "Utreat", von deren Ausnahmealbum "Succour" (Warp, 1995). Mit pointiertem Minimalismus taucht er in die feinen Schneeschichten eines sonnigen Wintertages und verfolgt die Mikronebel des Wasserdampfes innerhalb der Kristallräume, lässt ihr Kondensieren klingen und das erneute Schmelzen in tiefere Strukturräume hinabtropfen.

Mixmag (UK) - June 2007
Text by Joe Muggs

OK, perhaps not the first thing you'd think of in mid May, but this ambient concept album by Australian composer English is a wonderful thing. Yes, the twinkling FX, melodies and cold washes of sound are evocative of crisp winter days, but they sound just as beautiful in the warm. A lovely slice of abstract electronica.

About.com (US) - June 2007
Text by Trish Batista

Winter is my favorite season. Even though this album is very minimalist (which is an understatement), it does give me the feeling of the season in different places around the world. Lawrence English recorded this album in Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, and Australia. Having visited those places, not all during the winter, there is a distinct feeling that each location evokes throughout different seasons.

The first track, "End Game", is aurally soothing, with some bell sounds reverberating throughout the piece. As it ended and left me feeling calm, my hearing was assaulted in a way by the beginning of the next track, "Fleck". It has this high-pitched, almost ultrasonic piercing note, reminiscent of the highest tone played during a hearing test. After ten seconds of this track, I started to get a headache, I was grinding my jaw against the pain, and I tried skipping through the track to where the sound would end. It didn't. Oh, and it also had my dog whimpering and hiding under the bed. English restored my faith in the album with the remaining tracks.

While I'm not a huge fan of electronic minimal sounds, I enjoyed my time listening to this album. No vocals, purely electronica. For the purists out there, this one's for you.

Properly Chilled (US) - June 2007
Text by ???

At the moment we're just getting into the swing of Summer, so you why post a review of Lawrence English's album "For Varying Degrees of Winter"? Quick answer: it cools everything down just by playing it. Maybe it's just some odd subconscious part of me, but I swear, the room dropped a few degrees since I started playing this one...and the air conditioner's not on.

For Varying Degrees of Winter was recorded by English in Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, and his homeland Australia throughout the years of 2005 and 2006, featuring contributions from Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer, and Aki Onda.

This is one of those extremely ambient albums whose notes can only be said to unfold. Saying the music is keyed or even played doesn't do it justice. Having its theme centered around winter, you can expect to hear fields and flurries of brightly scattered metallic sprinkles, ambient tones whose sound stretches on for miles, and any number of crackling details that come and go on a seemingly random schedule. Lawrence English's effort was focused on capturing everything about winter, from its blinding whites to its sullen grey clouds. What's coming out of my speakers is a sound that could easily soundtrack any winter spent in the vastness of an alternately rural and mountainous terrain...this is not winter in the city. It's too cold and too ominous.

Here's a recommendation: on a hot summer day (or night), take a cool shower and afterward, turn on your air conditioner (if you have one). Then lay down somewhere flat and comfortable where the light is minimal (just the faintest shades of blue if you can manage it). Just before you lay down, start playing this album (on repeat, not too loudly) and cover yourself with a thin sheet (preferably white of course). You could be wearing something light or nothing at all. Once you lie down, just close your eyes and drift. The effect should have you so blissed out you won't be able to move for at least an hour.

Heathen Harvest (US) - June 2007
Text by Forlorn Eremite

This album was recorded during the artists travels maybe, it is meant to view or experience winter from different locations, thus offering different impressions of the season. Track 01. End Game has soothing bell-like sounds, there is some white noise creating an atmosphere which is reminiscent of snow falling deep, piling high and silently. This is like some traditional European winter, we are perhaps sitting inside a cottage with a pipe at hand deep in introspection, our mind is pulsing feeling cold and steady. The sounds are stirring but not anxious, this piece is magical, as it is relaxing. Track 02. Fleck is both quiet and restless in the same moment, high pitched piercing sounds assault our senses, piercing like some strange wind like a storm will come night time of humanity. This is the winter storm. Track 03. Desert Road, by contrast ghostly, hollow with metallic sounds revealing something profound and otherworldly. This is winter as experienced in the desert, the barren wasteland, dust stirs and something unexpected billows from the land.

The forth piece Swan in my interpretation resembles something like transformation. I envision a portal coming open, shifting energy can be felt, the energy undulates coming out of rain and water. It is rattling as it contracts. Next, 05. Soft Touch is hallow, this is an organic singing breathing piece, it is about connection which is not forceful, but light, just barely perceivable. I imagine ethereal fingertips just barely in contact as two beings stare into each others eyes, knowingly and contented. Lastly, 06. Unsettled Sleep brings the one experiencing this music into bed during the dark, long winter night. Something is dripping awakening us, and we cannot concentrate, we now become filled with subtle paranoia, our phobia, our anxieties about things are surfacing from the depths of sub conscious. Suddenly we believe something out of the shadows must be breathing down the back of our neck. We have a cold sweat and know something is in the darkness looming, perhaps it is just a dream after all. This album is a discussion of the experience of winter seen from many angles and I think it engages the listener while communicating the atmosphere of the season very well.

DJFIX + Raves.com (US) - May 2007
Text by Kristofer Upjohn

Lawrence English's "For Varying Degrees of Winter" is the kind of mind-spinning record I like to see come along. It rides the border between music and noise (though the "noise" side of the coin is largely of the soothing, meditative variety and not the harsh blast of wake-up-you're-in-experimental-land - what white noise does crop up is mostly consistent with the overall space music ambience of this disc). One can easily envision metaphysical reality opening up to you as the stars come rushing in and the earth goes rushing away. Atmospherics are of the utmost importance here and many a psychonaut out there will find much enlightenment within the minutes of this release's running time.

Solénoïde (FR) - May 2007
Text by Le Solénopole

Tournant autour du thème de l'hiver, ce deuxième album de l'australien Lawrence English s'inscrit dans la meilleure veine des productions ambient à vocation expérimentale. Mêlant traitements électroniques et abstraction guitaristique, cette variante expérimentale de l'ambient polaire subjuguera à coup sûr les adeptes de sonorités brumeuses et contemplatives.

RUIS (BE) - May 2007
Text by Mik Prims

Lawrence English is Australian. Aan een slee heeft hij dus waarschijnlijk nog maar weinig gehad. Maar Lawrence reist ook veel en deze cd is in oorden allerhande tot stand gekomen. Een eerste beluistering wekte scepsis bij de reviewer op. Vervelende ambient, vond hij, met langoureuze loopjes en mistroostige klanktapijten die een sombere, winterse sfeer moeten oproepen. Maar men mag niet over een nacht ijs gaan en een sneeuwvlok maakt de winter niet en met de koptelefoon vatte hij een tweede ronde aan. Sonische elementen die hem eerst waren ontgaan, reveleerden zich: tikjes, geruis, gekraak, geknisper, hoge sinustoontjes, helder als verse ijspegels, stemmetjes en klokken in de verte, vele andere kleine geluidjes. Gebiologeerd luisterde hij de cd uit en tevreden gaf hij toe zich vergist te hebben. Bij een derde beluistering bleken zelfs de loopjes en tapijten tot leven te komen en voortdurend, maar zeer geniepig te muteren. En de reviewer besloot met deze uitspraak af te sluiten: men zegt wel eens dat men aan de muziek van Geir Jenssen hoort dat hij boven de poolcirkel woont, welnu, mochten we niet weten dat English Australian was, dan zouden we hem een Inuït op de Noordpool wanen.

UNI (CZ) - May 2007
Text by Pavel Zelinka

Drobné šuměni způsobené padajicim sněhem či pravidelné křupáni bilé pokrývky pod nohama. Že jste si tohoto pocitu letos mnoho neužili? Nabizim jednoduché řešeni! Dokonce diky tomu nebudete muset cestovat až někam na ledovec, ale stači si pořidit nové CD Lawrence English "For Varying Degrees of Winter" a po spuštěni přehrávače se usadit pohodlně do sedačky. Užijete si tak zimni obdobi slyšené australským hudebnikem na šest způsobů. I tento muzikant má již něco za sebou, spolupráci s takovými esy, jakými jsou David Toop, Terry Riley, DJ Olive nebo Tujiko Noriko (té spoluprodukoval jeji dva roky starou desku "Blurred In My Mirror"), ale jeho hudebni zaměřeni nejlépe dokumentuje vlastni label Room40, který je pro svoje vizionářstvi a kvalitu vzýván po celém světě. Osobně mám zimu rád. Delši noci dávaji větši možnost v klidu se uvelebit k poslechu hudby. Ono nočni (nebo časně ranni), "tuplované" ticho je spolu s drobnými mrazivými field recordings středobodem Lawrencova nového alba. Jednou drobně křupeme na glitchovém sněhu, podruhé dark ambientně mrzneme pod nulou uprostřed saharské pouště, potřeti již prosvětleněji, přesto stále ambientně vychutnáváme drobnou chumelenici uprostřed skalistých velehor. Englishovo nové CD je tichý nosič, k jehož finálnimu zvuku dopomohli hlukový kytarista Mike Cooper, občasný spolupracovnik Ikue Mori Aki Onda a kanadský elektronik Janek Schaefer. Vyžaduje soustředěný poslech v klidném postředi. Teprve poté je schopen posluchače přijemně zamrazit až do morku kosti.

Bad Alchemy (DE) - May 2007
Text by ???

Wie wohl der Winter in Brisbane ausfällt? Aha - "very mild and quite pleasant... although short, it can still have some bite." Das mild & quite pleasant ist hier gut zu hören, den Biss vermisse ich in Englishs sechs dröhnminimalistischen Stillleben. Daran ändern auch die kollegialen Beiträge von Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer und Aki Onda nichts. Englishs Ästhetik des Weichen, sein sanfter Tourismus zu weissen Flecken der Imagination, hat sich seit Happiness Will Befall (Cronica, 2005) kaum geändert. Sanfte Kurven morphen durch den Raum, unter den Dröhnwellen ein feines Rieseln und Knirschen, wie tauender Pulverschnee, oder ein Rauschen, wie Verkehr auf nassen, matschigen Strassen. Ein Titel wie "Desert Road" entbehrt da nicht einer gewissen Ironie. Muzak für Feinsinnige? Aber soweit kommt es noch, dass ich der Wüste beim Wachsen oder dem Schnee beim Schmelzen andächtig lausche.

Liability (FR) - April 2007
Text by Fabien

Deux ans après un Happiness Will Befall, paru chez Cronica, pour le moins glacial, Lawrence English revient avec un nouvel album qui tourne autour du thême de, ô surprise, l'hiver. L'Australien veut ainsi faire corps avec une saison qu'il considère, avec justesse, comme adéquate pour développer sa musique brumeuse et minimaliste. Comme pour son prédecesseur, English n'a pu se résoudre à enregistrer ce disque au même endroit. Le monde est son terrain de jeu et il ne peut s'empêcher de s'imprêgner des lieux où il se trouve pour créer ses espaces sonores. Cette fois-ci il s'ouvre à la collaboration puisqu'il est accompagné successivement par Mike Cooper (guitare sur Desert Road), Janek Schaefer (traitements électroniques sur Swan) et Aki Onda (bandes sur Unsettled Sleep). Il n'y aura pourtant pas de révolution fracassante dans le monde musical de Lawrence English. On reconnait aisément son goût pour les lignes claires, les petits froissements sonores, les instants introspectifs et une fragilité toute polaire. Du connu et de l'archi-rabaché sûrement mais English le fait avec une ferveur et une maîtrise tout à fait en phase avec ses principes.

Avec cet album qui se met lentement en place (mais quoi de plus normal après tout ?) Lawrence English installe définitivement sa marque de fabrique. Il devient aux yeux et aux oreilles de tous comme un sculpteur de sons, taillant dans la glace la plus profonde et parvenant à modeler de vastes étendues désertiques dans lesquelles on prend toute la mesure de ce que peuvent être de longs moments hivernaux. On perd ainsi toute notion du temps et on devine ce à quoi doit ressembler l'éternité. English, lui, imperturbable, continue de façonner ces longues nappes sur lesquelles il appose de légers bruissements électroniques qu'il fait varier de manière aussi lentes que possible. Somme toute, notre homme atteint son but. Il touche du bout des doigts la quintessence de l'hiver et, avec lui, nous sommes prêts à nous transformer en de petits glaçons.

Blow Up (IT) - April 2007
Text by Nicola Catalano

Se è vero, come dicono, che non esistono più le mezze stagioni e forse nemmeno quelle intere (chi ha visto realmente l'inverno quest'anno?), arriva la musica ad offrirci quelle suggestioni che l'effetto serra e le mutate condizioni climatiche del pianeta ci stanno portando via per sempre. Sono i suoni ghiacciati, cristallizzati dal gelo polare del nuovo album dell'australiano Lawrence English, manti nivei dalle tremanti rifrazioni ambient, immote stalattiti foniche impercettibilmente sgocciolanti di drones lenti e suggestivi, cui qua e là provano a dare tepore ospiti di rango come Janek Schaefer (elettronica), Aki Onda (nastri) e - curiosamente, consideratone la notoria solarità pacifica - anche l'anglo-capitolino Mike Cooper (chitarra). (7)

KindaMuzik (NL) - April 2007
Text by Vincent Romain

Lawrence English komt uit Australië, is baas van het zich in geluidsexperimenten specialiserende label ::Room40:: (lees: de antipode van het Duitse Raster-Noton) en heeft een prachtige plaat gemaakt. Spijtig alleen dat deze net een beetje te laat komt.

In Australië is het voor English nu bijna winter. Als luisteraar hier moet je je de winter die hij hier verbeeldt dan maar even voor de geest halen. Of de plaat tegen het einde van 2007 nog eens opzetten.

Dat laatste zal wel lukken, want English heeft een tijdloze ambientplaat gemaakt die je binnen tien jaar nog uit de kast kan trekken. Hopelijk zijn er tegen die tijd ook nog ijskoude nachten, bevroren meren en je huid in stukken snijdende winterstormen.

English is er, net als Geir Jensen van Biosphere, een meester in om het door iedereen vervloekte seizoen muzikaal op te roepen. Zo kan je de koude wind die door "Fleck" waait voelen. De roerloosheid van het door velen minder geliefde deel van het jaar hoor je uitmuntend verbeeld in nummers als "Desert Road" en "End Game", vreemd genoeg het openingsnummer van de plaat.

Er beweegt vanalles op Varying Degrees of Winter, maar mensen, dieren en planten roeren zich allemaal wat trager en voorzichtiger, omdat ze nu eenmaal eerst de kou uit hun botten moeten schudden. Op "Swan" hoor je de zwaan zo het ijs van de vleugels slaan, alvorens alles zich terugtrekt in een koude mist. De stilte heeft, meer dan de klank, het overwicht.

Wie een cruise naar één van de twee polen die deze planeet rijk is wel ziet zitten, kan zich echt geen betere soundtrack indenken.

Foxy Digitalis (US) - April 2007
Text by Stephen Clover

The machine is in a good mood today. The machine is happy. The machine wants to play for you its best song, its prettiest tune. But the machine missed its last two scheduled maintenance checks, and it's a little bit broke-down. It's a bit old now, too, a bit worn-down and a bit done-in. Nevertheless the machine has spent eons compiling the nicest, most pleasant tones and the most consonant arrangements. Its compositions are consummate, its overtures masterful. This is glitch-ey drone-a-tronica done to a treat. Just... plain... gorgeous. (8/10)

Grooves Magazine (US) - April 2007
Text by John Eyles

The album title could lead one to expect For Varying Degrees of Winter to be chilly, maybe even bleak. Nothing could be further from the truth, however,as this music conjures up the beauty of falling snow, icicles and virgin snowscapes rather than their frostiness.

Australian Lawrence English—proprietor of the Room40 label and arts organization—is a sound artist as much as a musician, with a resume full of sonic installations. That makes perfect sense here, as much of For Varying Degrees has that seemingly unchanging quality that often accompanies installation work. The looped electronic soundscapes, overlaid with slowly evolving sounds—including contributions from Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer, and Aki Onda that are subsumed into the totality—draw comparisons to the pace and structure of Harold Budd and Brian Eno's ambient work, as well as the loops from FM3's Buddha Machine, the only regret being that the tracks here come to an end, rather than being (theoretically) infinite.

Although some do originate from instruments, it is difficult to separate out the source of individual sounds here, as they have been treated and combined together, often leaving the ingredients unfathomable. Tantalizingly, “Fleck” gives the merest suggestion of sound, of something half heard and then gone once you try to focus on it. In complete contrast, “Desert Road” is based around a substantial bass drone and swelling low-frequency pulses over which is laid an occasional high-frequency whine, creating an overall effect that is quite hypnotic. “Swan” possesses a static, swirling quality enlivened only by occasional low-key crackling sounds; when it ends after six minutes, it feels as it is just beginning. The closer, “Unsettled Sleep,” starts with a pulse of slow bass beats that soon give way to the merest suggestion of nebulous sound, gently rising and falling in intensity. It's slowly joined by noises reminiscent of far-off machinery clacking, bringing the album to an enigmatic but satisfying conclusion.

Some music you hear, and you know you're not going to return to it often. When I heard For Varying Degrees, I knew I'd found a friend for life. Simply beautiful.

e/i Magazine (US) - April 2007
Text by Alan Lockett

Room40 curator Lawrence English must have had a premonition of this winter, a season so undone by unseasonality as to be virtually un-wintered. For as digital particle showers go, this set avoids the frosty demeanor and polar bite purveyed by sound artists of his stripe. English has shown himself a kindred spirit to the likes of Chartier and Gunter, Schaefer and Deupree, some of whom have also flirted with the wintry theme, with greater austerity and lesser musicality. FVDoW is immediately a more consonant and conventionally pitched collection than Günter's Un Peu De Neige Salie and more varied than Deupree's Northern. Winter is really a shoo-in as Muse/concept for these digital tone poets, the pristine absoluteness of snow and ice finding an obvious analog in their trademark static smears and miniscule timbre-granules, both revealing their essential complexity and allure under micro-examination. The Baskaru blurb has it that "each one of the six pieces is a monochrome composition ranging from the blinding whites of the snow to the blue-grays of cloudy days.” Leave aside quibbles as to how far blue-grays might qualify for monochrome status, and indeed disputes as to how monochrome these pieces really are (they aren't). Be drawn instead into the artful electroacoustic tableaux of English, and their varying degrees of faraway-closeup organic-digital chill-warmth. It's not all lullaby drone-wash, for a track such as “Fleck” works up a flurry of high-pitched tones that incite like Ikeda-esque micro-piercings. It occurs while listening that perhaps the closest sonic reference point for FVDoW would be Keiichi Sugimoto's Fourcolor output (albeit less organic) or certain recent Kranky expeditions (by, say, Kowalsky, Herbert, Bissonette). It has that same static yet gradually evolving feeling, a shared humanity of drones and resonances, of ambient washes of notes (provenance unknown) and viscous sonorities, finding movement through inference rather than explicit statements. There are indeed degrees to explore within this English winter, from “End Game,” approaching freezing, stark yet alluding increasingly less obliquely to harmony, to “Desert Road,” finding a darker yet warmer shade oozing from somewhere across the digi-swamp. In between there's the Köner-esque “Swan,” which tests upper and lower frequency ranges with dense nebulae of crackle'n'drone. Enveloping, swelling, quietly fizzing with transluscence, the air grainily alive around it, a fascinatingly varying English winter awaits those who would enter.

Gothtronic (NL) - April 2007
Text by Hans

When an album is titled For Varying Degrees Of Winter I at least expect it to be a bit chilly. Not that I mind this new Lawrence English release not matching its title though. On the other hand it's just how you look at it, if it were cold outside I would put this one on, it would no doubt warm the room. However, since Lawrence describes this album as "6 monochrome compositions. from blinding snow whites to the blue gray of cloudy days..." I am probably suffering from a defective weather-sensing gene.

But we're talking music here so, besides this title nitpicking, is this album any good?

At first listen I wasn't really impressed. The album does not have any sudden changes or burst of sounds, it just kind of lingers on, I expected it to become stale soon. However, I could not have been more wrong, For Varying Degrees Of Winter really gets better each listen.

The six tracks are very well done minimal ambient. It's fresh, almost melodic at times, and some pieces remind me of Thomas Köner's better work.

The music uses the full frequency spectrum, deep bass and high pitch sounds complete each other. Although you can certainly visualise what Lawrence is trying to paint, it is hard to make out what you are in fact listening to, but who cares if it sounds this good.

The Artwork is minimal yet fitting. For Varying Degrees of Winter is released by the label Baskaru, from what I have so far heard from this French label they sure got a nose for music, keep an eye on them!

Geiger (DK) - April 2007
Text by Lars Brund Jensen

Selv om det ville vaere synd altid at lade en plades forsøg på en selvdefinering bestemme over lytteoplevelsen, er det oplagt at placere For Varying Degrees of Winter under kategorien soundscape. For til tros for, at forsøget på at skabe, genskabe eller emulere naturlige akustiske rum ved hjaelp af (elektronisk) genereret lyd, kun er én måde at beskrive den australske lydkunstner English' seneste meritter på, så er det altså en oplagt en af slagsen, når nu indpakning og indhold viser sig at stemme nogenlunde overens.

årstidstematikken lagt til side et øjeblik er et gennemgående traek i English' musik, at lyd behandles som et materiale. Det betyder i første omgang, og i tråd med tanken om lydlandskaber, at lydens formgivning og modulering, bliver den primaere interesse, til forskel fra eksempelvis den akkordbaserede sang, hvor melodien oftest står helt centralt. Det er da også netop detaljen i forskydningen af sinustoner, droner og cracks fra diverse elektroniske apparater og ikke mindst modstanden disse imellem i ind og udsugninger af lyd, der er det vigtige i den minimal- elektroniske musik, eller lydkunst, som den Brisbane-baserede English laegger navn til. Både her og på tidligere udgivelser, bl.a. på hans eget anbefalelsesvaerdige label ROOM40, cirkulerer English omkring stemmer og stemninger i omgivelser, hvor det ikke formgivne, eller det, der er forsvundet, har lige så stor betydning som det tilstedevaerende. Det bedste og måske mest vellykkede eksempel herpå er projektet Ghost Towns fra 2003, hvor English' videooptagelser fra forladte byer udover Australien ledsages af et selvkomponeret lydspor, der forsøger at indfange, hvordan noget, der i ligeså høj grad har vaeret, som det endnu er, mon kan lyde.

For naervaerende albums vedkommende er paradokset fornemmelsen af stilhed og tomhed, som de rolige, men ikke nødvendigvis fredelige kompositioner maner frem hos lytteren. At lyd som sådan kan give en fornemmelse af stilhed, er vel et udmaerket argument til de skeptikere, der stadig måtte begraense deres musikalske horisont til tre akkorders musik. Er man kommet så langt, kan man i blandt momenterne af stilhed finde masser af fylde hos Lawrence English.

Om man vaelger at tage udgangspunkt i forestillingen om vinterlandskaber eller ej, er For Varying Degrees of Winter et album, der henter mere inspiration fra golde end lysegrønne stemninger, og hvor der synes at vaere en fornemmelse for dramaet i den lille forandring, såvel som den ro, der kan gemme sig i orkanens øje. Det er karakteristisk for de seks kompositioner, at English og hans samarbejdspartnere på projektet, har haft øret både ved jorden og i luften. Mellem en overordnet fornemmelse eller stemning, skabt eksempelvis af en tung drone, der saetter grundpraemissen, og så en raekke mere opbrudte og detaljerede sideforløb fra simulerede regndråber, til f.eks. glitches og scratches, placerer English lytteren i det spaendingsfelt, hvor vores opfattelse af rummet omkring os skabes. Mellem det overordnede indtryk af det, der omgiver os, og den mikrokosmiske begivenhed, der enten bekraefter vores fornemmelse eller udfordrer den.

English' musik, indspillet på tre kontinenter, synes først og fremmest skabt som en undersøgelse af disse forhold, med en oprigtig nysgerrighed som rejsepartner. Tilmed en undersøgelse, hvor understrømmen af melodi, der synes at leve i lydfladernes samtale, gør modsaetningen mellem den kolde abstrakte lydkunst og varme konkrete akkordmusik ganske ubrugelig, og hvor vinteren bliver tiden for alt andet end månesygt kakaodrikkeri. Selvom English på pladen fisker i rørte vande i forhold til teknikker, og heller ikke som sådan praesenterer nogle nye måder at arbejde med de kendte på, er For Varying Degrees of Winter en anbefalelsesvaerdig plade med en meningsfuld balance mellem komposition og improvisation. Den tager til i intensitet og kvalitet som de 40 korte minutter skrider frem og lader en tilbage med ønsket om mere af det, man aldrig helt fandt ud af, hvad var.

Modisti (ES) - April 2007
Text by Modisti

Electronic soundscaping, the atmospheric plays a leading role in the work of this musician, placing us before an electronically created soundscape where the materials present a synthetic nature if the actual relation, spatialization and veiling literally mimic the acoustic experience. A minimal approach to development, spinning around blurred circles, carefully disguised through the presence of impermanent, careful, limen-like overtones. A busy emptiness of pleasant contours, inclined towards horizontal forms of static nature, spatialization featured as a source of variation together with the fading quality of half said things.

Westzeit (DE) - April 2007
Text by Karsten Zimalla

English ist ein wichtiger Vertreter der australischen sound-art, der mit David Toop und Terry Riley ebenso zusammenarbeitete wie mit Scanner und Janek Schaefer (der hier elektronische Hilfe bei "Swan" leistet). In sechs stark an der Kunst des drones orientierten, dabei doch (wie immer bei guten drones) sehr fragilen und feinst ziselierten Strukturen aus electronics, feedback und tapes werden unterschiedliche Winterstimmungen vertont. Wie sanft fallender Schnee rieseln die Klänge ohne Nervosität lärmfrei aus den Boxen. Nun ist der Winter zwar vorbei (wenn er denn überhaupt stattgefunden hat), aber diese CD wird mit ihrer abstrakten Strenge und anstrengenden Schönheit auch Frühling und Sommer überdauern.

Touching Extremes (IT) - April 2007
Text by Massimo Ricci

This CD has plenty of reasons to be appreciated at a first listen, and several ones that will make you return to it often. Despite its title, it is full of digital sounds and looping atmospheres that sound, well, warm, ever since the very first minutes of the initial "End game"; then again, its inherent movements make me think about the prolification of bacteria under experimental conditions, small cells and minuscule fragments continuously reproducing in a sloping luminescence of uncertainty and dejection. Never for a moment the laptop criteria applied by English generate that unwelcome sense of overwhelming detachment typical of this kind of records, all the frequencies acting like directional instruments rather than auricular weaponry. Most sources are barely identifiable and I much prefer that way, remaining in the limbo of alien chorales ("Fleck") and post-Thomas Köner degradation ("Swan", the highest point of the whole album). Should you need a genuine subsonic brain-bombing instead, look no further than "Desert road". Everything sounds familiar in a way, yet we often experience the same childhood feeling of being lost in a supermarket: lights, colours and faces a whole undifferentiated blur, while we anxiously wait for our mama to retrieve us. Less than 40 minutes long, "For varying degrees of winter" is almost perfect.

Trust (DE) - April 2007
Text by Jochen Gutsch

In der experimentellen elektronischen Musik ist es wie in jedem anderen Genre auch, es gibt eine Handvoll sehr gute, einige mittelmässige und eine riesige Menge an völlig überflüssigen Veröffentlichungen. 'For Varying Degrees Of Winter' von dem renommierten australischen Künstler Lawrence English gehört in die erste Kategorie. English nimmt sich hier den Winter vor, beschreibt den blendend-weissen Schnee mit Sine Wave Piepsern und knisternden Schleifen, spickt seine Klangskulpturen mit Verweisen auf die Details der scheinbaren Konturlosigkeit im hellen blau-grauen Winterhimmel, zaubert allerdings auch wohlige, warme Flächen aus seinen Geräten. Das lädt ein zur Kontemplation, zu ruhiger Betrachtung und schafft eine klaren Geist. Wunderbare Sache, sollte man im Hause haben.

Gonzo Circus (BE) - April 2007
Text by Patrick Bruneel, translated by Alexandra Vermote

[.../...] easily tempered by English, as we put on his solo album, which is very introspective, contemplative, creating a solid image of winter beauty, though that may be restricted to our inner thoughts, since over here, we've had no real winter so far, nevertheless. English, Australian as well, created 6 monochrome compositions, each with a different view on the snowy landscapes, sheer ambience, never quite the same, much like the flakes, I would imagine. He is considered to be the key figure of the art scene back in Australia, and next to his solo work (Ghost Towns, Transit, Happiness Will Befall), he creates sound installations, worked together with Tujiko Noriko for the album Blurred In My Mirror (2005), heads label ROOM40, and previously worked together with DJ Olive, Scanner, David Toop and Janek Schaefer. The latter collaborated on one track of the For Varying Degrees Of Winter, just like Mike Cooper and Aki Onda. You may want to check out the other releases on Baskaru, a new, but fascinating French label.

The Wire (UK) - April 2007
Text by Clive Bell

Based in Brisbane, Australia, Lawrence English has been releasing solo work since 2001, but he's possibly better known for his sound art activities and his collaborations with the likes of David Toop, Ami Yoshida and Tujiko Noriko. Clocking in at 40 minutes, For Varying Degrees of Winter is a concise collection of six wintry soundscapes. To the fore are processed ambient chords, embellished with field recordings, audio grit such as vinyl surface noise and a handful of contributions from guitarist Mike Cooper, Janek Schaefer and Aki Onda.

The opening "End Game" has a certain rhythmic drive and stereo panning, so that it bobs along like a sleigh. There's a high-pitched glisten on top like a coating of frost, and the track is almost cheerful. "Desert Road" is ominous, but in a light-hearted way - kind of bantamweight ominous. Surely winter shouldn't be this comfy? The stumbling block could be English's liking for hovering drone chords, which can radiate an almost Hollywood glow over a track. "Swan" might sound like glaciers are crumbling, but those chords reassure.

It has to be said that there's a lot of this music out there just now. For it to work requires a breakthrough into a magical atmosphere - it's horribly subjective as to whether that breakthrough occurs, but for me it's when English holds his chords in check. "Fleck" has a wonderful diminuendo as the music is replaced by the sound of outdoors, such as wind, distant voices and unspecified chilliness. That's magic. "Soft Touch" repeats the trick, as we journey from insectoid textures to the sound of a dripping thaw. The closing "Unsettled Sleep" tops the rest with its dream-tangled nightscape. A deep bass note tolls like a bell, and whistling cries pass like curlews marking the horizon. This is a likeable album rather than a challenging one, but when English darkens his palette he can tingle the imagination.

Sound is Audible Time (NL) - March 2007
Text by Peter van Cooten

The past winter here was not very cold; it didn't feel like 'Winter' at all. Australian composer Lawrence English must have foreseen this when he recorded the music for this album "For Varying degrees of Winter", full of beautiful haunting electro acoustic music.

The music, electronic as it may be, feels very 'organic', and evokes 'varying degrees' of moods. Or, in the words of the label Baskaru that released it: "Each one of the six pieces is a monochrome composition ranging from the blinding whites of the snow to the blue-grays of cloudy days".
It's not just 'quiet dronemusic' though. Some of the tones in Fleck for instance, may strike those with a good hearing as almost (subliminally) agressive. These very high tones strike you directly inside your head (some of Ryoji Ikeda's work has the same effect).

By now, spring has arrived and the mood of this album may be a bit too dark and winterish for the coming season. But it's not cold - like the winter that passed.
But even then - another winter will come next year!

Sound of Music (SE) - March 2007
Text by Sven Rånlund

Vintern, åtminstone den vinter som i fantasin är vit och kall, är årstiden som bäst tycks ämnad att kontemplera över. Kölden får kroppen att krypa ihop, ljusets få timmar sänker perceptionen mot dvala. Ju högre norrut desto mer inåtvänd – det är ett klimatologiskt faktum som verkar fortsätta fascinera kompositörer med dragning åt de minsta, mikroskopiska ljuden.

Lawrence English bor i Australien men har med "For Varying Degrees of Winter" producerat rent bedövande vackra kompositioner som klingar hemlikt på våra breddgrader. Jämfört med Biosphere – Norges egen kung Vinter – finns dock inte alls samma högtryck och rymd i English låtar. Istället utspelar sig den musikaliska dramatiken i en svit fastfrusna stillbilder som långsamt, ytterst långsamt liksom töar fram utan att fördenskull övergå i någon annan skepnad. Låtarna inte så mycket utvecklas som invecklas, de rör sig vidare i nyansrika spår.

Jag lyssnar några gånger på första låten, "End Game", genom högtalare. Sedan i hörlurar. Det är så det ska låta, insvept, uppfylld, omhändertagen. Där försiggår en massa, högt och skarpt i registret och djupt ned i ljudbilden, böljande och glittrande, sprakande, harmoniskt porlande. Nästföljande "Fleck" är som en tyngdlös ljudinstallation, nu hör jag isbrytaren på håll och flak som knäcks. En helt annan ljudpalett introduceras med "Desert Road", en briljant återhållen, mörk dronelåt.

Några musiker gästspelar på skivan, gitarristen Mike Cooper bland annat, och Janek Schaefer med elektronik. Starkast är den avslutande låten, "Unsettled Sleep", med Aki Onda ("tapes") som arbetar med lager på lager, en slags ljudfördjupning som får mig att tänka på Philip Jecks arkeologiska turntablism. Här, i denna vinterdimma, leds man vilse, invirad i ett slags fuktigt ljudnät där varje reva vill lyssnas till.

Skivan slutar tvärt, mitt i ett motiv där de små ljuden töjts och förlängts mer än minimalismen vanligen brukar tåla. Bryskt, ändå känsligt. Vid sidan av Taylor Deupree tillhör Lawrence English en av dagens mest intressanta mikroskopistister. Hitta honom.

Rockerilla (IT) - March 2007
Text by Roberto Mandolini

Il nuovo lavoro di Lawrence English è contenuto in un bel digipak che raffigura particolari di foglie e arbusti filtrati attraverso una lente color della neve. Un po' come il mondo visto con gli ochi di English: Brisbane, Tokyo, Kokura, Valencia, Honk-Kong, London, la Svizzera o l'Italia - tutti posti dove le composizioni di questo disco sono state registrate tra il 2005 e il 2006 - appaiono tutte coperte della stessa nebbia elettronica, densa e ricca di particolari. Basterebbero i nomi di Mike Cooper e Janek Schaefer, che danno una mano rispettivamente su "Desert Road" e "Swan", per consigliare questo disco a scatola chiusa. Lo sgretolarsi del tempo in "End Game" è allo stesso tempo commovente e agghiacciante. (8/10)

Gaz-Eta (PL) - March 2007
Text by Tom Sekowski

Listening to this release for the first time during a chilly, blizzard winter storm in the great white north, I came to realize just how ideally it was suited to the Canadian weather. Room40 label proprietor, Lawrence English has a tendency to use a monochromatic style of juxtaposing glistening waves of electronics with serene landscape. All of this is quite revelatory once it builds up in the mix. There is something in the way he uses these tiny static permutations to build up a climax. Of course, on a record that dishes out minimal music such as this one, the climaxes are barely there; barely audible on the first go. It's after a consecutive listening session that you find something hanging in the air that wasn't there before, something that builds up your interest. Surprisingly enough, there are very few cracks and pops contained within these sounds. English prefers the role of a narrator. Not unlike Taylor Deupree's outstanding "Northern" release from last year, he uses electronics to build an atmosphere that is still, yet bubbling with morosely slow movements. If the foreign sounds of eai scare you off, consider this a friendly release. Sounds are mellowed out to such a point, much of the album simply glides on a sheet of thick, clear ice. Guitarist Mike Cooper adds a diluted guitar on one track, while Janek Schaefer contributes electronic treatments on another. Finally, Aki Onda adds some subtle tape treatments on the album's closing track. Without a hint of a doubt, English has created a wondrous world, where electronic sounds co-exist in perfect harmony with the world outside the studio. Perfect for a cold, brazen winter storm or a dark, howling full-moon night.

Bodyspace (PT) - March 2007
Text by Miguel Arsénio

Foi necessário um título tão evidentemente revelador da sua relação com a oscilação da temperatura para que a discografia do compositor australiano Lawrence English merecesse uma reavaliação incidente nos seus aspectos mais sazonais e térmicos. Sendo isso prova de que uma obra em aberto se encontra, até ao seu encerramento, sempre sujeita a interpretações renovadas. Ainda que de modo camuflado, o vanguardismo hip-hop de Pandemic, assinado com o entretanto congelado nome de Object, já transpirava um sufocante calor urbano associável às grandes cidades industriais. Por sua vez, ps field recordings desérticos de Ghost Towns soavam áridos, Happiness Will Befall (diamante encomendado pela Crónica) deteriorava-se com a humidade dos países asiáticos e um mais recente Plateau, ao lado de Ai Yamamoto, prenunciava o tema meteorológico com títulos como "A Moment's Breeze" e "Trapped in Ice". Não há muito mais a acrescentar ao que já revela o título de For Varying Degrees of Winter - é disco propício a ser conjugado com diversos cenários invernosos escalados em igual número de temperaturas abaixo de zero. Tão literal quanto isso e garantidamente apto a alimentar o conceito com a abrangência que promete.

Recue-se um pouco mais no percurso de Lawrence English e eis que outra pista surge como auxiliar na leitura acompanhada deste seu sétimo trabalho: a dupla compilação Melatonin, rampa da lançamento para a label Room40 que o próprio gere, incluía, em 2002, uma série de considerações acerca da influência e infiltração do som no sono. Um longo sono resistente aos rigores múltiplos de um Inverno tem um nome exacto – hibernação. Ou seja, estado de entorpecimento mantido por um For Varying Degrees of Winter que preserva argumentos sonoros úteis à virtualização do período hibernal: espessos drones que alicerçam cinco minutos de maratona detalhada, vagas de ruído branco, detritos digitais que cobrem como fungos uma "Fleck" que, a certa altura, embacia gradualmente sons rotineiros de um jardim. Como que para contrariar um frio de fazer tilintar os dentes, aproximam-se até junto de Lawrence English os acrescentos criativos de Mike Cooper (que cede guitarra à trepidar brando da desoladora "Desert Road"), Janek Schaefer (imparável!) e Aki Onda (que, em "Unsettled Sleep", contribui com tapes em modo de simulacro da intempérie que arranca camadas à superfície do iglu de abrigo).

Embora seja, até ver, o mais facilmente assimilável disco de uma Baskaru a que se conheciam complexos enigmas glich, For Varying Degrees of Winter refresca e desafia qualquer expectativa preconcebida que aguarde por novidades de Lawrence English. Até que este se decida a colocar termo à sua actividade, podemos vir a ser surpreendidos por trabalhos como este – uma espécie de The Desintegration Loops de William Basinski para assimilação solitária e melancólica do abominável homem das neves.

De:Bug (DE) - March 2007
Text by Seb

Der Winter an sich ist ja bekanntermassen nicht gerade die freundlichste Jahreszeit. Einem Album, das sich ausschliesslich dieser Thematik widmet, sollte man also nur bedingt eine gewisse Ereignislosigkeit zum Vorwurf machen, ist diese Übersetzung doch wenigstens konsequent. Wenn sich dann aber immer wieder ein hörergonomisch ausgesprochen unvorteilhaftes Tinitusfiepsen durch die Tracks zieht, spürt man doch sehr schnell den Drang nach einem eher frühjährlichen, wenn nicht gar sommerlichen Musikkonzept in sich aufkeimen.

Goddeau (BE) - March 2007
Text by Jurgen Boel

Af en toe mijmert een oude van dagen nog eens over sneeuw, dat wonderbaarlijke witte goedje dat ooit ook in onze contreien rijkelijk uit de hemel neerdaalde. Een zegen voor kinderen maar een vloek voor volwassenen was het. Nu is het niet meer dan een vage herinnering die al verdwenen is nog voor de middagzon zijn lauwe stralen kan sturen.

De winters zijn dan ook al lang niet meer wat ze geweest zijn en daar kan zovele jaren na de vele doemverslagen van de Club van Rome haast niet meer naast gekeken worden, vooral niet daar oud-presidentskandidaat en notoire stijve hark Al "The stick up that mans butt must have a stick up its butt" Gore rondreist met "An Inconvenient Truth" om die boodschap nog eens extra onder de aandacht te brengen. En ook al kunnen de cijfers in vraag gesteld worden, het is wel al even geleden dat we nog eens een echte winter met echte sneeuw gehad hebben.

Toch mag dat gebrek aan sneeuw u er niet van weerhouden om, de voeten in gemakkelijke sloffen gestoken, de kat rustig spinnend op de schoot en een kop warme chocolademelk binnen handbereik, te luisteren naar Lawrence English's For Varying Degrees Of Winter, een winters ambient-plaatje dat even hard kraakt en knispert als het haardvuur waarnaast uw luie zetel staat. En dan te bedenken dat Lawrence English een Australiër is voor wie het woord winter waarschijnlijk even veel zeggen wil als "vandaag toch maar één hemdsknoopje dichtknopen in plaats van geen".

English is geen onbekende in de kunstzinnigere milieus: als leidende kracht achter het label annex kunstorganisatie ::ROOM40:: heeft de man al lang zijn strepen verdiend. In het verleden werkte hij dan ook samen met onder meer Terry Riley, Damon Suzuki en Scanner, en bracht hij reeds verschillende albums uit. Met niet minder dan een slordige veertien releases in totaal is For Varying Degrees Of Winter evenwel "pas" de achtste solorelease.

De geluidskunstenaar zweert net als vele van zijn in ambient, minimale electro en artistieke ruis vertoevende vrienden bij minimale klanken en nauwelijks herkenbare geluiden die zich in de eerste plaats onder de huid nestelen en zich allesbehalve als reguliere rocksongs willen opdringen. De variatie op de plaat is dan ook niet altijd even duidelijk te benoemen. English blijft immers een idioom hanteren dat zich niet in de geijkte rockterminologie laat vatten.

Toch herbergt For Varying Degrees Of Winter nog genoeg fraais om buiten het kleine milieu op een bescheiden bijval te kunnen rekenen. English bouwt zijn klanksculpturen behoedzaam op en speelt op een ingenieuze manier met subtiele geluidspatronen die in elkaar over lijken te vloeien en zo doorheen het hele album een haast onzichtbare rode draad weven. Het maakt van het album één lange bezwerende trip met kleine kleurnuances die zich vooral in het late avonduur laten kennen. Een minimalistisch album als dit eist door zijn dwingende stilte immers alle aandacht op.

In een ideale wereld zou u vanuit uw eigen raam kunnen kijken naar witte velden vol sleesporen en sneeuwmannen. Maar nu de winter zich steeds minder manifesteert als een winter, blijven er nog twee opties over voor hen die dromen van witte kersten en knisperende sneeuwtapijten onder gelaarsde voeten: verkassen naar een noordelijke streek óf met gesloten ogen naar For Varying Degrees Of Winter luisteren. Als het een aussie lukt om de juiste sfeer te vatten in zomerse temperaturen, dan mag u ook wel eens een efforke doen.

Musiques & Cultures Digitales (FR) - March 2007
Text by Laurent Diouf

Un agencement de textures et de nappes assez subtil mais très abstrait...

Terz (DE) - March 2007
Text by Honker

Der Winter ist vorbei, aber für die meisten war er gar nicht da. Gut für alle Nichtromantiker, denn da lacht die Heizkostenabrechnung. Mit diesen sechs ruhigen, filigranen und abstrakten Skizzen lässt sich die kalte Jahreszeit zumindest hörbar nachempfinden. Töne wie schmelzende Eisschichten (per Kopfhörer fließt's ungleich intensiver), Schneestapfen in -flocken und glitzernde Eiszapfen. Der australische Klangkünstler, zuvor aktiv durch diverse Soloalben und Arbeiten mit David Toop, Terry Riley, Damo Suzuki oder Scanner, lud diverse Gäste wie z.B. Janek Schaefer zur Teilnahme an diesen wunderbaren Klangpanoramen ein. Elektronischer Winter, hier passt's zusammen.

XLR8R (US) - February 2007
The XLR8R Office Top Ten Album Picks

Lawrence English has a vision, folks. The man behind Australia's Room40 sound-art label creates a slow-moving, sonic stratosphere that fans of The Hafler Trio, Tod Dockstader, and Tim Hecker will worship.

File Under (NL) - February 2007
Text by Dennis Waterman

18 februari 2007. Hartje winter. 15°C. Gevoelstemperatuur nog wat hoger, zo uit de wind en in de zon. Heerlijk. Maar toch: zo is winter natuurlijk niet bedoeld. Bij winter hoort sneeuw, vorst, ijs, verlaten witte vlaktes, isolatie en eenzaamheid, kou, warme chocomel met een snufje kaneel, een knisperend haardvuur. Dat vindt Lawrence English van down under ook. Voor die dagen dat je het huis niet uit durft uit angst om te bevriezen, en alleen maar gefascineerd je keukenraam uit kan kijken, heeft hij For Varying Degrees of Winter gemaakt, een album vol afwisselende, sfeervolle ambient. Van zeer minimaal en ijzig koud tot dreigend en onderkoeld, maar nooit boven het vriespunt. En zo hoort het natuurlijk ook in de winter. Dan kan ik het nog zo heerlijk vinden in mijn schijnbaar altijd groene tuin in het zuiden des lands, maar met winter heeft het natuurlijk helemaal niets te maken. En winter is wel nodig; een noodzakelijke catharsis om daarna verfrist en vernieuwd door te kunnen gaan. English begrijpt dat wonderwel en zorgt met zijn machtig mooie klankenlandschappen voor precies de juiste hoeveelheid winter. Gelukkig maar. Heb ik toch nog mijn winter.

Distorsom (PT) - February 2007
Text by ???

Lawrence English, um dos responsáveis pela editora australiana Room40, deixou-se cativar por um dos temas caros aos compositores de música micro-sónica: o inverno. Depois de Taylor Deupree ou Bernhard Günter, o inverno parece uma estação perpétua no mundo do minimalismo electrónico. Talvez seja compreensível que um género tão preocupado com drones estáticos e finas texturas granulares, encontre alguma afinidade com a primordialidade absoluta da neve e do gelo, elementos naturais cuja complexidade e beleza só é revelada pela observação microscópica. Cada uma das seis faixas que compõem For Varying Degrees Of Winter são, portanto, paisagens geladas, monócromas, austeras mas harmoniosas, que vão desde os brancos que cegam aos azuis-cinza dos dias nublados. Apesar de abstractas, estas composições são surpreendentemente evocativas e habitadas por um dissimulado sentido de musicalidade - é um álbum delicado e de uma enorme beleza.

Musique Machine (BE) - February 2007
Text by Roger Batty

For his new album Australian sound artist and ambient electronic sound painter Lawrence English has looked to more wintry and freezing tones for inspiration. Building six often barely there tracks of slowly moving ice bergs of melodic wonder and freezing tuneful soundworlds. It brings to mind perfectly the solitude and wonder of wintertime and endless white desert of vast ice & snow.

Thoughout English manageds to evoke this feeling of icy isolation and wonder, using chilled and slowly cooling ambient/electronic snow drifts of sound cracking and gentle ice plate shifting of glichty electronics. He creates intimate ground-level cooling haze, making one feeing like there watching the world around them freezing into sparkling beauty. But he also manageds to give the feeling of sailing slowly across 100 miles of iced deserts and snow heavy forest giving a wonderful feeling of panoramic and rich sound pictures. Some tracks murmur of darker places hidden away in lightless ice caves or floating in the cold arctic darkness under several feet of dark ice where theres barely any light. The paces seems to become more active towards the end of the album feeling like spring or maybe uneatreal heat is suddenly speeding of the ice movement and it's melting and cracking rapidly.

All in all a very rewarding and cooling collection of sound worlds, that shows English has the ability to create both beautiful, ominous and vast sound pictures, that sparkly and glint with noise element and melodic richness.

dMute (FR) - February 2007
Text by Grisli

Pensées par Lawrence English comme autant de pièces monochromes, les six compositions recueillies sur For Varying Degrees of Winter illustrent la question des modulations hivernales.
Qui prennent ici l'allure d'une ambient lovée.

Et fade, d'abord. Traînant mollement ses inserts électroniques sur effets de masse et larsens plats, English ne parvient à convaincre qu'après les deux premiers titres passés. Plus denses, les atmosphères ordonnent alors des nappes oscillantes et réfléchies (Swan), des craquements légers et quelques sifflements, sur un glissement de terrain modulé sur deux notes (Desert Road) ou l'amas inattendu de couches sonores en débâcle.

Dans la veine du récent Space de Rafael Toral, English peut aussi peindre des sphères amalgamées, formant à elles toutes un espace non fini (Soft Touch) et soumis aux dépressions. L'une d'entre elles sonnera d'ailleurs le terme des variations du jour, au son d'un chaos grouillant et, donc, définitif (Unsettled Sleep).

Cyclic Defrost (AU) - February 2007
Text by Bob Baker Fish

Very little is given away on Queensland sound artist Lawrence English's latest solo release. It's a gentle electro acoustic outing, with processed field recordings and electronics coagulating into a drifting drone based work. Elements appear across the frequency spectrum, delicate high-pitched microsonics existing alongside lower end rumbles and mid range drones that sound like digital feedback. At times you think you can make out the chatter of frogs, birds or even children playing yet just prior to identification it merges into a strange staticy rumble or disappears altogether so you can never really be sure what you're listening to. And it doesn't appear to be about the discovery or identification of individual components regardless, rather these strange highly processed constructions seem to alternate between creating strange new semi industrialised austere electronic environments or existing on the fringes of musicality due to some of their repetitive components. There is an evolving nature to all the pieces as they slowly roll out, dragging a myriad of extraneous sounds with them. There's also a certain stillness to the work with no abrupt ruptures or strange changes. Whilst it's never clear exactly what tools English is utilising he receives some additional assistance from guitarist Mike Cooper, electronics from Janek Schaefer, and tapes from Aki Onda. It's definitely a calming immersive though quite delicate and nuanced experience. Headphones recommended.

Boomkat (UK) - January 2007
Text by Boomkat

Room40 curator Lawrence English gets round to tackling that subject close to the hearts of so many microsound composers – winter. Whether it be Taylor Deupree or Bernhard Gunter, winter seems to be perennial in the world of the minimalist electronic musician. It's perhaps understandable that a genre so preoccupied with static drones and tiny granular textures should find some sort of resonance in the pristine absoluteness of snow and ice, natural elements whose true complexity and beauty are only revealed through microscopic inspection. On 'End Game', English uses all the tricks of his trade to establish a sense of frozen soundscape, which manages to be at once brittle and austere yet gently harmonious at the same time. 'Fleck' is even lighter – weightless in places; a thin veil of upper-register sound design. Next up, 'Desert Road' marks a change of tone, with some altogether darker, greyer drones sounding stark and still. The Thomas Koner-style fog ambience of 'Swan' increases the frequency bandwidth yet further with its nebulous, impermeable crackle and washed-out drone. As the album moves into its final third, the infinitesimal shimmer and fine digital grain of 'Soft Touch' sounds like it might actually be a direct tribute to the aforementioned Bernhard Gunter's seminal Un Peu De Neige De Salie album: by the piece's conclusion, it becomes a finely spun web of high frequency luster and minuscule detail. English has delivered what might well be his best yet with For Varying Degrees of Winter. It's an album of tremendous delicacy yet formidable beauty. Highly recommended.

Smallfish Records (UK) - January 2007
Text by Mike Oliver

Room40 head honcho Lawrence English has really produced quite a sublime piece of work here for French label Baskaru. Featuring additional elements from the likes of Janek Schaefer, Aki Onda and Mike Cooper, he's blended his sound sources to create a soothing, deeply textural and amazingly warm collection of tracks. Without doubt some of his most easy-going work to date it has a listenable, appealing and really quite charming sound. Been enjoying this for some time now and I'd suggest you get yourself involved... gorgeous!

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