cdwhon006, released in october 2000, 3 tracks, 61'16",
it comes with a 10 pages essay written by Giancarlo Toniutti.

Out of print !!

in september 1998, i assembled the sound installation "filtering the current" for the AMORPH98! festival, held on suomenlinna island off the coast of finland. with the help of students from the sibelius academy in helsinki and organizers of the festival, i installed seven aeolian harps on the sod roof of an old and heavily fortified gunpowder bunker named "kaponieeri coyet." each aeolian harp consisted of a wire strung between two planks of wood that focused the wind across the wires, inducing harmonics that were picked up by contact microphones and subsequently mixed and amplified in the interior chamber of the bunker.

over the course of the weekend exhibition, i spent many hours adjusting the sounds and the wires, working late into the night within the massive stonewalls and on the roof. i was listening into the darkness of the sea through the wind that was courting my wires. the bunker was located on a peninsula at the southern extreme of the island, facing the gulf of finland; during the day, i explored the peninsula and made recordings of the rocky coast, the resonant interiors of great cannon barrels, a kite flying in heavy wind, and the grass of quiet little nooks between rolling granite forms that made up the body of the island.

more than a year later, the transmuted sounds and memories of suomenlinna island have evolved into :coyot: -- a sound journey through mnemonic debris blown by winds from a distant place.

mnortham, july 2000

[jump to radiantslab's shop]



mnortham's :coyot: is quoted as one of the best 2000' records by the Wiener Zeitung, Austria.

In September 1998, sound artist Mnortham installed seven aeolian harps on top of a fortified bunker on Suomenlinna Island, Finland. Each harp was made of a wire strung between two planks of wood. The structure was designed to focus the wind on the wires; the resulting harmonics were picked up by contact microphones and amplified inside the bunker. On :coyot:, Mnortham uses these recordings, along with environmental sounds from the island, to create three 20-minute works. Envisioned as the courtship of gas molecules with earthly materials (wire and wood) transmitted through sound, this triptych plays on microscopic changes. The first piece stays very linear, and only the most attentive listener will detect the transformations. The last piece integrates more environmental sounds, offering a wider palette, yet the whole thing remains calm, static, but also soothing. As a sound art experience, :coyot: has limited appeal (once you understand the mechanics and have heard the results), but as ambient, non-intrusive music, it can be more satisfying. The booklet contains an essay about Fenno-Scandinavian wind cosmology by Giancarlo Toniutti - a nice way to add another dimension to this work.

François Couture, All-Music Guide

Mnortham is a soundsculptor who has been releasing cassettes, vinyl and some cds of his work - most in collaborations - and whose name seems to be cropping up more widely. Recent solo works include his 'breathing towers' cdep on Dorobo (see &etc v3.5) and there was a fieldrecorded piece on the lowercase compilation (&etc v2.7). His CV includes many sound and performance installations since 1991, and he is also a visual artist: the covers for both ':coyot:' and 'breathing towers' include his photographs (as does his site on radiantslab) and they are mysterious and evocative.

This disk is based around one of his installations - a set of aeolian harps over an old gunpowder bunker on an island off Finland. These fed down through contact mikes to a studio chamber in the bunker. During the weekend festival mnortham adjusted the sounds and the wires, recording the harps and also some local sites and animals, and a year later 'composed' them into this piece.

Emerging gradually out of the silence 'Observations of wind at molecular states of evolution' harmonically growls at us - a constant granular drone of the long wires in strong winds with hints of over and under tones and subterranean variations - singing tones and light touches. An organ playing a single note in a subway/underground tunnel, on a geological scale a slow-melody flows, as all the while the notes are shifting, the shape of the sound evolving. And there are active points, where the wires sing together, and movement through louder, fuller passages into more restrained (less windy?) almost silent periods, before growing again to its end.

'Effects of atmospheric pressure on air-born particles of solids and liquids' (aka the second track) introduces a percussive element tapping behind the droning wire - probably rain where the growling in the first was the wind. The resonant wires are more prominent, giving the piece a subtle restraint. At times sounding like a sustained piano note, the overall mood is gentle, and leads to a wonderful long fade. Here is a good a point as any to note that earphone listening gives access to some of the smaller gestures and components in the music, which can get lost in a room and speakers.

The final piece has perhaps the most complex layering of string-drones as its focus. As you listen to them in 'The copulation and subsequent conception of vacuums between wires and winds' voices seem to emerge from the interaction of the notes. Again the work ebbs and flows with some quite intense periods and others which are more restrained and simpler. The difference in mood between the three parts of ':coyot:' underlines mnortham's skill in selecting which moments to work on. Also, while the booklet suggests that some of his field recordings on the island were incorporated, they have become so integral that I couldn't distinguish them.

The form that mnortham works in imposes tight constraints on the resulting music: the wires themselves have limited range though atmospheric affects expand the sound palette. And yet these pieces are compelling and mesmeric - the small changes in texture or timbre, the development over time (whether real time or due to seamless editing) are earcatching and maintain your interest. My experience of this form of soundscape places Alan Lamb high on the scale, and this recording is up there with him. (There is also a booklet containing a typically obtuse acheologicallinguistic essay by G Toniutti - see &etc v1.8).

&etc v3.8 - Jeremy Keens - Ampersand Etcetera - Volume 3 Number 8

Micheal Northam, who is of course MNortham, sort of kicks his things around for quite some time now, and maybe you bumped into him at one of his many concerts and installations. His releases so far are rather sparse, eleven covering the past nine years. Musicwise he can either be located among the improvisers with contact microphones to small objects and with the drone meisters. This new CD is among the last and is the result of recordings made in Finland in 1998 with six wind harps. These were mounted on a roof and the amplifications recorded. The booklet says that 'more than a year later, the transmuted sounds... evolved into :coyot:', so it's safe to assume MNortham re-worked these sounds in the studio. Three pieces, all about 20 minutes in length, with heavy dark drones, wind licking the wires of the harp, played alongside the recordings made in resonant interiors of great cannon barrels, swirling into rich textured drones, with lots of filtering going on. Changes occur, but on the usual small scale which is inherent to this kind of music.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 249

Aeolian harps are relatively simple devices made from of a couple planks of wood and a taut wire, which are placed in relation to a wind source to transform the speed, force, and directionality of the air itself into an extended drone. David Kenny's Aeolian String Ensemble and Douglas Quin's Antarctica recordings (using ice instead of wood and wire) are previous examples we've mentioned of the amazing sounds that an aeolian harp can generate. Portland sound artist Mnortham received a commission to install a series of aeolian harps in an abandoned bunker found on an island off the coast of Finland. (Cool!) ":coyot:" is a collection of the transmuted sounds from the recordings that Mnortham made within that bunker, as well as from various field recordings culled from the exploration of the island's landscape. While the lengthy essay contributed by Giancarlo Toniutti offers a complex thesis on the relation of these recordings to the sky / wind / air mythologies of a number of ancient Nordic races, Mnortham's recordings succeed through their beautifully droning simplicity, much like Francisco Lopez or Jonathan Coleclough.

Aquarius Records