The delightfully snipped Bandcamp description reads, “Homage to Annea Lockwood is housed in a hand …” Having met the artist, we believe that she would be amused by the image. To our (only slight) disappointment, Noel Meek & Mattin‘s loving tribute is instead housed in a hand-numbered paperback book, filled with photos, a transcript of a Skype conversation, and an afterword by Lockwood herself. The interview is embedded podcast-style in the opening track, while Lockwood’s words become song in the closing track.
Who better to receive such a tribute? The eternally young sound artist still exudes the exuberance of her younger self, portrayed on the cover. “My work is my way of exploring the world,” she begins, elaborating on this theme over the course of a quarter hour. Meek and Mattin play with her voice, looping and distorting it, in some cases nearly erasing it before it rushes back in on a wave of field recordings, themselves processed and modified. This makes the track an exploration of Lockwood’s own techniques, the soundscape artist become soundscape.
At the end of “Das Ding an sich,” Lockwood speaks of setting things on fire, in particular a retired piano, wrapping a microphone in asbestos ( ! ). Mattin responds by setting a computer on fire (recorded by Adam Asnan), which we would guess to Lockwood is even better than a birthday cake. Noel Meek visits an old oak tree in New Zealand to record “Ōtākaro / Where the Children Play.” Could this be the oak from which Lockwood sprouted? Are her fingerprints embedded in the rings? The tonal contrast between these pieces is in one sense like bookends, in another like a cycle. The soft flow of water is a sonic echo of her river works. A motor briefly interrupts the recoding, a reminder of how much the human world has encroached upon the natural world during Lockwood’s lifetime.
The title track, a polyphonic choral work, is something Lockwood herself might not have imagined. Her words are transformed into song, a conversation with herself, in love with sound and nature and the realm of possibility. The voices of Olivia Webb, Hannah Everingham, and Emma Johnstone wrap around each other and diverge like – in Lockwood’s words – the eddies of the river that runs beneath the Ōtākaro. Upon hearing the results, Lockwood is overjoyed. This is the first time she has heard the river from below.
This seems a serendipitous season for Lockwood, as Forced Exposure has recently restocked many of her seminal albums, including her lauded river map works, while Room40 is set to release Glass World, a remastered version of her 1970 album that focuses on single sounds: bubbles, water jars, spinning discs, on the same day as Homage. The Glass Concert is discussed in the Homage as well. Earlier this year, Ergot Records released Tête-à-tête, a collection of archival and unreleased tracks from Lockwood and her life partner Ruth Anderson, who passed away in 2019 but will forever be remembered as an electronic innovator. Homage honors not only Lockwood, but those who came before her, those who walked beside her, and those who follow her path. Recital’s Sean McCann is to congratulated for overseeing this vital and fascinating project. (Richard Allen)