«heart / noise» reflects the different sonic poles of the Australian-Scotish electro-acoustic trio Sensaround, the most intimate and the quite oppressive sounds. The third album of the trio – featuring Scottish alto and soprano sax player Raymond MacDonald and Australian keyboards player Alister Spence and sampler player Shoeb Ahmad (who now goes by the trans femme name Sia Xray) – is described by Sensaround as flirting with melodic jazz ambience, ghostly dub and post-punk experiments. The album was recorded in Canberra in August 2015 during Sensaround Australian tour.
MacDonald and Spence have been collaborating as an acoustic duo in the last decade and recorded two acclaimed albums. Sensaround allows Spence to employ the Fender Rhodes as a sound source and explore its electronic palette of raw sounds in a manner that would correspond with Ahmad’s loops and sounds. MacDonald uses extended breathing techniques that complete the spacious and industrial, alien-like soundscapes.
On the first pieces, including the extended title-piece and «Immolate Dub», MacDonald sounds as responding to the stormy and distorted, post-rock rhythmic patterns of Spence and Ahmad, soaring from a safe distance above these industrial soundscapes. When MacDonald takes the lead on the second part of the album on pieces as «Winter Sleepers» and «Fours and Sevens» he charges the music with fragile lyricism, leaving enough space for Spence and Ahmad to color and embrace his contemplative meditation with minimalist, rippling sounds. MacDonald’s warm, melodic tone and his cyclical flow brings to mind the solo works of John Surman and the nuanced, sensitive contributions of Spence and Ahmad only enhance the emotional appeal of these pieces.
Alister Spence (Fender Rhodes, pedals, perc), Raymond Macdonald (as, ss), Shoeb Ahmad (Boss sp-202, sp-303, pedals)