Environmental Studies is a unique solo work of Tony Buck, Australian trio The Necks drummer-percussionist, that investigates aspects of pulse, time, timbre and motion on one single, 110-minute piece. This work is released as a limited edition of 100 laser-etched metallic USB’s in a screen-printed metal tin, plus a score of 21 full-color printed polaroid artwork reproductions cards that act as a score to the album’s instrumental choices, or in a download option.
Across the span of this extended piece, Buck charts out the relationships between his primary instruments – an array of percussive instruments and devices, guitar, piano and electronics. He creates distinct sonic ecosystems with his instruments, and each of these clusters of materials is brought into a dynamic and dense yet quite mysterious matrix of interwoven voices and layers. Each of these layers occupies and exploits a unique space within the fabric of the sonic ecosystems, co-existing to slowly reveal themselves in multiple interconnected relationships and ever-shifting sonic contexts.
Buck explains that each voice is devised to represent the instrument’s most resonant voice, claiming a unique location in the massed sonic field, not only in terms of register, timbre, or rhythmic density but also in relation to the unique and most sonorous characteristic inherent in each instrumental sound source itself. The consequence of such a delicate layering of independent autonomous and often dissonant and even noisy sounds is the emergence of discrete utterances, asserting themselves and divulging their concealed properties and distinctive qualities. Over the course of Environmental Studies, each voice finds a place to shine in a myriad of seemingly endless, living or breathing permutations, creating a slowly changing tapestry of mood and intensity contributing to making the experience a fresh encounter on each successive listen.
This highly immersive piece feels like an adventurous walk into an infinite and imaginary, vivid and colorful virgin forest, slowly becoming accustomed to its ever-changing and interconnected matrix of dense sonic environments, with their distinct pulses, timbres and textures. It may sound disorienting and even unsettling at first, and no doubt, very intense. But if you continue to surrender to its many fascinating and enigmatic sonic environments, all familiar concepts of time and space may become distant, blurred and more flexible. Then, this deeply insightful and moving sonic experience may enrich the way listen to the other and many different sonic ecosystems around you.
Tony Buck (percussion, guitar, piano, electronics)