The Twenty-three Views Floating World Pictures

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  • 1The Village Headman Pleading With The Old Ferryman04:25
  • 2Salt-wind Rises at the Waterfront Promenade02:23
  • 3Til Dusk, at Devran05:41
  • 4From 23 Views Of Sai Kung Hoi (Day One)07:51
  • 5Fairbairn's Floating World07:28
  • 6Bura Boro02:42
  • 7Overmorrow, Monchan04:42
  • 8Gokarna To Hampi, After Dar05:38
  • Total Runtime40:50

Info for The Twenty-three Views

So Japanese poet Bashō wrote in 1684 about a famous natural spring recorded as “shedding it's clear drops of water with a drip-drop sound”. This act of cleansing and how it is expressed by Bashō offers an absorbing framework for hearing the music of Floating World Pictures. Just as haiku are rooted in close observation of nature and the seasons, a time and a place - a tiny meditation that both seizes the moment and brings about a much wider understanding - so too are the improvised explorations and focused production of Floating World Pictures.

Floating World Pictures is made up of Chestnutt, a founding member of Snapped Ankles, and Raimund Wong, a sound artist most recognised for his graphic work for International Anthem, TRC and Church of Sound. Written, mixed and produced by the pair at Total Refreshment Centre; their improvised explorations celebrate and embrace the collaborations of TRC and a wider independent network with contributions from Alabaster DePlume, Akihide Monna (Bo Ningen), Cathy Eastburn (Southbank Gamelan Players), Charles Prest & Kamal Rasool (Flamingods), Clémentine March, and Danalogue (The Comet is Coming).

Their debut album, 'The Twenty-Three Views’, rewards deep listening. Within the earthing drone, new elements continually reach the surface to spin a sensuous, densely populated soundscape. Fragments of field recordings people the texture; sounds of industry, of safe and treacherous harbours, the hammering of ancient crafts and choral layers open windows to imagined or distant pasts. The restorative energy of nostalgia, of memories revisited and half-remembered, play out.

Raimund Wong and Chestnutt are conduits for unearthed relics, the lost sounds of Tibetan singing bowls and celestial gongs are fragments of melody that reach the surface. Shifting tones bring a richness of aural collage: synthesizers, the reeds of an Indian harmonium, mbira, 11-key balafon, tanpuri and the ceremonial dignity of the Balinese gamelan warped by found sounds.

The album moves within the creative freedoms of seasoned collaboration, in the shared space orchestrated by Floating World’s philosophy. Synth lines cascade whilst zipping overtones ping and reverberate with a contemplative lightness of touch - both moving and playful as in the Japanese environmental and ambient music of the 1980s. Elsewhere wildness and syncopated rhythms suggest an interest in textural trips of mid-90s UK ambient and leftfield electronic music.

‘The Village Headman Pleading with the Old Ferryman' is an exotic ecosystem of pulsing bassline and mallet percussion with Alabaster dePlume's saxophone summoning the spirit of the casbah. In a tapestry of sustained chords and wavering, tidal tenor saxophone, there’s deep chimes, submerged concertina, distant clangs, the call of bell buoys and the lash of a drum crash, all shaping the outward journey of the Village Headman. A graceful and unsettling bassline pulls the music rhythmically forward.

The lamenting 'Fairbairn's Floating World' is an expressive highpoint: mournful and distant phrases fade at their very point of creation, a crackling and fugitive 78 rpm record. Percussive brush strokes and faltering saxophone dance in fading light before the wandering motif swirls again like the worn glory of a 1930s Lecuona Cuban Boys record with the drone leading to a peaceful conclusion.

The album's closing tracks contain moments of tension: environmental dissonance and a cinematic foreboding with snaking saxophone and heavy, tolling bass. Tropical rainfall and waves wash against the shore; synth overtones are sirens of departing ships, as the narrative continues in a dystopian mood. Surfaces are harder, chiming gongs rain on a built environment rather than a natural world.

The geographies of Floating World Pictures draw to a close and in its wake the album leaves a cohesive series of sound postcards. Like haiku, they concern the things of this world and the language in which we try to express them - and how beginning to grasp this in musical languages brings to the listener both inspired wakefulness and clarity.

Chestnutt & Raimund Wong
Alabaster DePlume
Akihide Monna (Bo Ningen)
Cathy Eastburn (Southbank Gamelan Players)
Charles Prest(Flamingods)
Clémentine March
Danalogue (The Comet is Coming)
Kamal Rasool (Flamingods)

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