Two Long Works is the new album from Melbourne sound artist and instrument-maker, Ernie Althoff.
The Australian magpie that fills the cover of Two Long Works harks back to Althoff’s Moggs Creek Picnic Ground (sham070) of 2012, which was an extended field recording featuring a recurring “solo” magpie call. The connections don’t end there; Althoff says the recurring motifs with subsequent variations that feature throughout Two Long Works are partly inspired by that very magpie’s carolling, in relation to exploring possibilities of the instruments constructed for this work. “My ‘model’ for this was the magpie on Moggs Creek Picnic Ground, that does this as if it’s perfecting a part of its call”, he says. Indeed, Althoff works magpie-like across Two Long Works, sorting through sonic materials to uncover the shiny bits he slowly incorporates into his complex musical “nest”.
Following the musical rest period triggered by the crazy Covid cataclysm of 2020, I emerged from it with these two overly lengthy tracks. “HRWT” uses two recordings of kinetic music machines, digitally altered in both tempo and pitch. The other two instruments are manually played. One is a cardboard resonator box strung around with three thick and five thin elastic bands. Calling this simple device an instrument is almost flattery. The other is another ‘string’ instrument using the metal wires and frame of an egg-slicer attached to a wooden resonator box.
“Half as” mimics the sonic palette of its longer partner. Again, recordings of two kinetic machines have been digitally altered. The elastic band instrument now has an extra bass string, and the metal wire sounds now come from a three-slicer setup on a single long resonator box. Previously plucked, in this track it’s mainly beaten with sticks.’
Ernie Althoff is a Melbourne sound artist and instrument maker active in Australian experimental music since the late 1970s. He is unique not only for the original textures and sonic elements he creates, often tempered with wry humour, but also for his practically continuous contribution to and participation in the Melbourne experimental music community for over four decades.