Alexandra Spence is an Australian sound artist and musician from Sydney, Australia. She works within the fields of composition, improvised music, and sound installation. She announced the release of her furst full-length. Walking, She Heard The Fluttering is out on April 5th via ROOM40. It traces a personal sound world of acoustic phenomena sought, found and reconfigured through composition. “Bodyscan” is the first excerpt. Listen below.
Her words about the album:
This album came together during and immediately following an extended period of time spent in the UK and Europe in 2018. Some of that time was spent in cold, gritty London, meeting and talking with David Toop, some of it listening to fences vibrate in the Scottish highlands, some of it was spent swimming in nudist lakes at Grunewald forest in Berlin, lying in fields of tiny yellow flowers in quaint British towns, listening to sirens travelling across European cities, church bells ringing at midday, drinking expensive coffee and cheap pints, sharing music with audiences of five and audiences of ninety-five. Reading Dorothy Richardson, reading Hito Stereyl, reading Nan Shepard, Lydia Davis. Listening to Tyler the Creator, Laurence Crane, RP Boo and Sarah Hennies…
And the whole time I was thinking about textures. David told me a story about a time when he was in Japan. He had visited a Zen garden in the springtime; there was a cherry blossom in bloom, and beneath it a black granite rock. The image of soft pink nestling rough rock is one I kept coming back to. How can colour and image become aural, how can the feeling of material (hand on sharp rock, hand against gentle flower) be understood not through sound, but as sound?
…My work is led by my materials. I begin with a sound that I like. The feel of this sound will then suggest to me another. And so on, until a form is suggested, and then following the form, perhaps an overarching concept will reveal itself. I rarely begin with a concept. In this way making music, sound, art is a kind of working-through, exploring the timbral and tactile qualities of a sound as a form of phenomenological learning. And what has sprung forth with this album is a kind of ‘home-seeking’ using sound as way to better ‘know’ the objects, subjects, places and processes that surround me; as a way to connect myself with the places in which I’ve been.
I am cautious in regards to the origination of my sounds – if I don’t understand the cultural or historical context of a sound, then I am less inclined to use it. This is in part a post-colonial reaction, but is also due to the fact that the way I conceive of my work is through my personal experience and relation to a place. I try to respect and acknowledge the context of my field recordings – as this often becomes the basis for the work. For me, presenting field recordings within composition, installation, or performance is an exploration of the connections between sound, place, body, being and space. I believe that it is impossible to separate our individual contextualisations from our interpretation of sonic information. Experience is subjective. Thus I attempt to bring this to attention within my practice – an acknowledgment of a sound’s reason for being, as well as simply it’s being. Within my work I am not simply examining the potential musicality of everyday sound, but I am also interested in the social signals and possible narratives that inevitably co-habituate these sounds.