**Matte laminate sleeve with black inner reverse print** Over the last 20 years, since its humble launch at the outset of the millennia, Lawrence English’s Room40 imprint has grown into an unmistakable force in the landscape of experimental, electronic, and electroacoustic music, enveloping a vast global context that extends far beyond its Australian roots. Somehow as humble as it is ambitious, with a catalog number into the hundreds - covering an incredibly diverse range of practices, as well as spanning numerous generations - it’s impossible to sum the label up in any concise way, but their latest, Harbors, a stunning a collaboration of composers Ellen Fullman (Long String Instrument) and Theresa Wong (cello), takes strides toward illuminating the ethos at their core, and is easily one of the most striking and beautiful among their vast catalog of stunning releases. As radical and challenging as it is immersive and seductive, it shouldn’t be missed on any count.
It’s been wonderful, over the last decade or so, to witness Ellen Fullman emerge before new generations, settling into her rightful recognition as one of the most important composers working in the field of experimental music. A maverick and a singular thinker, having originally studied sculpture, Fullman first gained prominence during the early 1980s in NY for an incredible body of work created with a self-designed and build instrument - the Long String Instrument - consisting of dozens of metallic strings suspended across much a space, played with rosin-coated fingers, producing a chorus of percussive notes and extended modulations and drones. While seemingly conceived in part to generate a remarkable range of sounds by single performer, collaboration - either with other Long String players or other instruments - has played a central part in her work and output from almost the beginning. This tradition continues with her latest - Harbors - a collaboration with the cellist Theresa Wong, who has gained considerable note for her solo efforts over the last two decades, as well for her collaborations and work with Fullman, Fred Frith, John Butcher, Gregg Kowalsky and numerous others.
As conceptually rich as it is intuitive and direct, Harbors draws inspiration from the soundscapes, stories and atmospheres that manifest around bodies of water that propagate exchange, drawing on the time the two spent near the foggy San Francisco bay during a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Structured around the extended harmonics of the open strings of the cello, Wong and Fullman utilize subsets of these tonal areas to create distinct sonic environments within the piece. Against the droning, rich tonalities and percussiveness of Fullman’s Long String Instrument, Wong pushes her instrument beyond its grounding in musical tradition, straying into territories of vocabulary that are closely aligned in the sounds of the natural world, generating an immersive field where figure and ground are in constant flux.
A wondrous world all its own, bristling with tension, Harbors is the most successful meeting of two incredible artists in careful conversation, unfolding in the orchestration of shifting drones, aberrant melodies and glistening atmospheres. Unquestionably a high-water mark in the amazing Room40 catalog, Harbors has already added an incredible tone to the end of our summer. Issued on vinyl in a matte laminate sleeve with black inner reverse print, this one is not to be missed, and is not going to sit around for long.