Atomism



Atomism (2013)

Abstract electronic / Electroacoustic.

"See you. Me back. Begin again. That's one unique point in the hologram."
- Kakkab Nammax

Sadalsuud, when translated, means the 'luckiest of the lucky' or the 'luck of lucks'. In the context of older worldviews such as Egyptian, Persian and Islamic mythology, Sadalsuud relates to the rising of the Sun when winter has passed (March) and the season of gentle, continuous rain has begun. Hence the myth of 'luck' or 'good fortune' was seen as closely aligned with the essence of spring itself, the burgeoning of new life, and by extension agriculture, which in all societies is the very foundation of prosperity or 'good fortune'. This mythological view of 'the luck of the lucks' also belongs to the 22d Manzil (Arabic Lunar Mansion), which included the two stars Bunda (ξ Aqr) and c Cap.

β and ξ Aquarii also constitute the Persian lunar mansion Bunda and the similar Coptic mansion Upuineuti, the meaning of which is 'The Foundation'.

In Chinese mythology, β Aqr alone marks the sieu (Chinese Lunar Mansion) Heu, Hiu, or Hü, 'the Void', anciently Ko, the central one of the seven sieu which, taken together, were known as Heung Wu, the Black Warrior, in the northern quarter of the sky. As such, Sadalsuud is an expression of the feminine archetype, the Yin or 'Void' (Cosmic Mother), from which, many cultures have believed, creation itself (birth) emanates.

In Chinese, 虚宿 (Xū Sù), meaning 'emptiness' (asterism), refers to an asterism consisting of β Aquarii and α Equulei. Consequently, β Aquarii itself is known as 虛宿 (Xū Sù yī, English: the First Star of Emptiness.)

Sadalsuud is found in Hindu texts as Kalpeny and in the context of the ancient Indian system of astronomy, Jyotisha Veda, is located in the 23rd Nakshatra Shravishthā, a lunar mansion which is ruled by Eight vasus - the 'deities of earthly abundance'. On the Euphrates, Sadalsuud was known as Kakkab Nammax, the Star of Mighty Destiny; that may have given origin to the title of the manzil, as well as to the astrologers' name for it, Fortuna Fortunarum. (Source: Wikipedia).

These are not 'drones' but fragmented pieces of sound, electronic as well as (semi) acoustic. Post-classical sounds, avant-garde-like composition techniques, musique concrete mixed with environmental field recordings and short melodic fragments - but always recognisable as 'genuine Tamea' because of that bright sound that is different from what most contemporaries do. This is not 'easy music' - it requires dedicated listening because it's as abstract as the web site liner notes . But if you dive into it it really pays off!

- Peter Van Cooten, Ambientblog.net



‘Atomism’ van de Britse componist Mark Tamea is een conceptalbum. Schrik niet: Tamea heeft geen behoefte aan grootse verhalenvertellerij of theoretische haarkloverij. Eenvoudig gezegd neemt hij als uitgangspunt het idee dat overal in ons dagelijkse geluidsomgeving verschillende frequenties en oude vibraties verborgen zitten, geabsorbeerd en vergeten. Wat, stelt Tamea zich voor, als die kleine organismen, of slimme atomen, zich bevrijden en nieuwe relaties aangaan met de brom van machines, het geroezemoes van de massa, de galm in een kathedraalkoepel of het kabbelen van water?

In de eerste circa negen schetst Tamea in fragmentarische vorm een palet aan mogelijke elektronische geluiden. Korte stukjes van vibrerende tonen, sinusgolven, pulsen, abrupte klankuitbarstingen en dergelijke volgen op elkaar. Het ene fragment is puur elektronisch geluid, andere momenten bieden kleine constructies van klanken; soms klinkt het als analoge elektronica, soms als ‘eigentijdser’ digitale effecten en hier en daar horen we field recordings.

Nadat hij in deze opener zo’n beetje het spectrum lijkt te hebben uitgezet, gebruikt Tamea in de overige composities een overwegend smaller klankpalet. Die composities doen ook duidelijker gestructureerd aan, met uitzondering van het langere ‘Objet Trouvé’, misschien. Naast deze en openingscompositie ‘The Lake’ houdt Tamea het bij kleine klankconstructies, waarin hij op verschillende manieren analoge en digitale elektronica, akoestische klanken (strijkers, houtblazers) en field recordings combineert.

‘Atomism’ biedt zes boeiende geluidsconstructies, overwegend kalme auditieve dwaaltochten langs meanderende paden en over ruwer terrein. Tamea voert ons daarbij door een afwisselend landschap waar, voor wie de oren spitst, steeds verrassingen opduiken. Het concept achter dat landschap, ach, dat is vooral een prettig uitgangspunt voor Tamea.

- Robert Muis, Gonzo Circus Magazine



Mark Tamea is a rare species who is at the curious cross road of modern composition, electronic music and plunderphonics. For starters: I have never a clue what he does - if he actually plays something himself on his releases, like the string instruments we sometimes encounter here.

What he set out on his previous releases he explores again here. Six pieces on this album, and everything I knew about him returns. The modern classical approach in ‘Oikony Noyod’, microtonal synthesis in ‘The Lake’, and the elements of plunderphonics? They might be everywhere, hidden in every track.

The radiophonic aspect of his work is again never far away, and it evokes perhaps rather abstractly at things – although a title such as ‘Objet Trouve’ is something to think about – maybe he found some classical music? Tamea splices his music in a digital way, but puts it back together in a new form, very tonal at times, but also very abstract.

Like with his previous release, ‘Metonymy’, I can’t say I am as surprised as I was with ‘Tessellation’, but that doesn’t mean I am not impressed. I think ‘Atomism’ harks back to ‘Tessellation’ more than to ‘Metonymy’, in the way that it uses a lot of acoustic instruments as well as some fine electronic charges. Great (traditional!) musique concrete. Excellent release, all around.

- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly



I am going to have to assume that I am not in Mark Tamea’s target audience. His electroacoustical experiments, something of a mix of musique concrete and plunderphonics, have their moments but overall I get the impression that I am meant to stand back and observe the music rather than being involved in it. And then there’s that sense that I just don’t get it. Never comfortable with that. The sound-set in play is diverse, from clattering electronics to patient strings to manipulated field recordings. Tamea brings them together in what seem to be, and surely must be, deliberate motions, but the tendency to abruptly switch from one thought to the next, to create a hard juxtaposition to make a point, makes it difficult to stay with. That being said, the patient construction of “Niuafo’ou Soujourn” where Tamea strikes hard chords and rides out the resonance, is excellent–perhaps because it doesn’t overplay its disparity. “Kitsunetsuki” catches my ear by feeling like the soundtrack for a butoh performance, dark yet rhythmic, shot through with bursts of frenetic movement and then lapsing into quiet.

Atomism is a challenging listen, and will only appeal to those whose tastes run deeply into the experimental. In listening to it, I can get the sense of Tamea’s compositional mindset and I like the depth of sound sources, but the execution doesn’t sit with me. I keep asking myself what I’m supposed to get from it, and I can’t answer it, personally. However, it’s a reasonably short release, just 44 minutes in all, and if you’re looking for a change of musical pace, I’d say it’s worth checking out to see if it works for you.

- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue