Northern Loop is the end product of Paul Fretwell and Ambrose Field’s collaborative composition project spanning five years of live performances at venues ranging from King’s Place in London, to churches in downtown New Orleans. Field and Fretwell first started collaborating in 2004. Jack Chorale, their first piece together, is an electroacoustic work that plays with genre and expectation, bringing in regular beats, fragmented rhythms, spectral sound transformations, harmony and noise. This piece triggered a long period of exploration where they began to focus on the very small details within sounds.
Northern Loop plays out over a continuous 80 minutes, working tiny loops of audio material into a spectral tapestry where small details are brought to the fore, revealing different facets of the evolving sound textures. The work has seven movements, although these flow into one another. The component sounds were generated from studio recordings of source materials using techniques of time stretching, convolution and mutation. These processes typically result in long, continuously evolving sounds. The composers then extracted short clips from these longer files to create their loops, finding interesting timbres and melodic fragments from within the larger whole. This magnification of small spectral details forms the central technique of Northern Loop, which charts a journey from darkness to light over a carefully-planned harmonic structure.
Fretwell and Field’s motivation is described in the CD booklet: “We decided to pick a single structural constraint – one that is common to a variety of genres and well known – the loop. The loop, historically, has been a tool for innovation, particularly in its use by pioneering minimal composers as Steve Reich in the 1960s. The ubiquity of the loop today however is unquestionable, but we feel that its widespread use in popular culture is often unchallenged. We would like to rescue the loop from entertainment-level apps, musical “textural backgrounds” and “library background pads”, and provide, through use of that structure, a listening experience of subtlety and delicacy. The result is a kind of “self-similar”, thoroughly stripped-down minimal music, but importantly our type of structure is not algorithmically generated: this is intuitive music, assembled through aural judgment and collaborative discussion.”
Paul Fretwell & Ambrose Field: electronics
1. Dark Water 14:41
2. Labyrinth 06:48
3. Plants and Pistons 05:00
4. Tidal Life 14:39
5. Expectation 09:47
6. Renaissance Pulse 09:03
7. Glass Machine 19:23
Downloads available soon