Since its launch in 2007, Pica Disk, the Norway based imprint run by the composer, Lasse Marhaug, has remained an important vehicle for sound and ephemera from the outer reaches of experimentalism, issuing numerous recordings by Marhaug and cohorts like Reynols, Will Guthrie, Tony Conrad, C. Spencer Yeh, Oren Ambarchi, Jim O'Rourke, Paal Nilssen-Love, Otomo Yoshihide, Okkyung Lee, and others. Their latest, “It Goes Without Saying”, the debut release by the British multimedia artist, Greg Pope, offers a near perfect glimpse of what the label is all about. Gathering three works created between 2009 and 2020 that collectively rest at the juncture of experimental sound, film, and site-specific performativity, this beautiful record is a brilliant and much needed illumination of the practice of an artist who has been intertwined with numerous contexts of experimental music for decades. Issued in a very limited edition of 200 copies on vinyl, housed in a silkscreened cover with an A4 insert with liner notes by Mike Cooper and Graham Duff, a 150 x 150 mm photo from “Dipping the Bells”, Individual high quality print from “It Goes Without Saying”, each unique, signed by the artist, and an A3 offset CMYK printed poster from “Shot Film”, the object is as truly stunning as the sounds it contains.
Born in London in 1960 and currently Norway-based, the artist Greg Pope spent years playing in punk bands and dabbling in absurdist theatre performance, before founding the film collective, Situation Cinema, in Brighton during 1986, and Loophole Cinema in London in 1989. Working collaboratively and individually, over the years he has created sonic and video installations, paracinema, live art, film, photographic and slide works, often collaborating with notable figures like Jérôme Noetinger, Norbert Möslang, John Hegre, Sult, Okkyung Lee, Mike Cooper, Jean-Philippe Gross, Anla Courtis, Voicehandler, Andrew Lampert, and others.
Despite his long history working within, and alongside, experimental sound, “It Goes Without Saying” is Pope’s debut release. Comprising three works created between 2009 and 2020, is offers a striking cross-section of his diverse practices within the auditory realm. Beginning with the title track, “It Goes Without Saying”, a piece created in 2020, Pope draws us headlong into his world with the performance of a text that he had originally written for the book “Film Talks: 15 Conversations on Experimental Cinema”, stating “I had the original title phrase in my head, but it was only during the early pandemic lockdown period that the words fell onto the page, in fits and starts, with hits and misses, falling in and out of meaning.” Combining processing and the resemblances or tape manipulation, this layered, complex piece encounters Pope’s voice - blindly cut-up and randomly re-assembled - embedded within a bristling tapestry of sounds generated by self-made percussive instruments striking glass, rudimentary sounds created through guitar pick-ups, contact mics and acoustic noise, to mesmerizing effect.
Having dedicated the entire first side to “It Goes Without Saying”, the second side begins with “Shot Film”, within which Pope introduces the listener into his unique approach to structuralism, linguistic play, and chance. From 2009, the work is the soundtrack to the artist’s film of the same name which was created by shooting lengths of black 35mm movie film with a shotgun. Pope explains: “The resulting damage was then repaired and the separate lengths joined together systematically. The damage created by this act – the pellet holes – becomes the image and the soundtrack. The sound is created in the optical soundtrack area of the film when the film is run through a projector. Where this area is punctured, light penetrates and falls on a light-sensitive cell which reads the light and converts it to sound. A literal interpretation of the phrase ‘to shoot a film’.” The outcome - minimal, delicate, and randomly percussive - is a fantastic gesture of conceptual sound practice that brings the groundwork laid by numerous artists during the 1960s into the present day.
The final piece is “Dipping The Bells”, created in 2019 for a film of the same name. Pope describes the process as such: “A spontaneous video, shot as a collaboration with the carillonist Laura Marie Rueslåtten. We set up the camera and did a one-take recording near Blylaget, Nesodden in the Oslo fjord. All actions and reactions are improvised. The cause and effect from the aircraft, motor-boat and the water movement in combination create a unique synergy. An atmospheric / mechanical call and response. Although I directed the action; the improvised composition belongs wholly to Laura Marie.” Intertwining the sounds of bells with that of the landscape in which the piece was recorded, the piece is simultaneously meditative and remarkably tense.
A truly fantastic introduction into the sound world of Greg Pope, Pica Disk has done the world a great service with the release of “It Goes Without Saying”, serving as a potent reminder of the many trajectories that experimental sound practice can take. Issued in a very limited edition of 200 copies on vinyl, housed in a silkscreened cover with an A4 insert with liner notes by Mike Cooper and Graham Duff, a 150 x 150 mm photo from “Dipping the Bells”, Individual high quality print from “It Goes Without Saying”, each unique, signed by the artist, and an A3 offset CMYK printed poster from “Shot Film”, this one comes highly recommended to any fan of experimental sound practice, film and video art, and conceptualism at large.