Personal mythologies, somnambulant improvisations. Speak of this to no one.
Hypnagogue - September 26, 2011
Listening to work by Joe Frawley is not an exercise in personal comfort. There’s a sense of being complicit in some sort of emotional voyeurism as you’re lead into his world of found sound, vocal samples, re-read bits of dialogue and sonically magnified moments of breath. Frawley’s work is a brilliantly jump-cut mix of all these things, set above simple piano melodies that absolutely drip with a varnish of melancholy. Frawley creates spaces that are just on the shadowy side of dark and just over the line of minimalism.
Speak of This to No One and Carnival are similar in approach, yet different in atmosphere. Speak… leans toward a dreamier quality with hints of unpleasant subconscious thoughts mistily floating around the edges. There is, like most of Frawley’s work, a very slight erotic/intimate edge in places, beginning with a voice at the outset of “The Kiss” quietly intoning, “So soft, so sweet.” Amplified moments of breath take on an edge-of-orgasm feel; it’s an interesting thing to hear that in your head and to get that image while at the same time realizing it may just be a breath or a shiver of cold. (“Mirrors” will mess with you this way.) This is where that level of discomfort comes in, as you’re asked to be perhaps closer to the moment than you should, hearing things you shouldn’t, and yet you know you’re not going anywhere. Also of note here is the simple beauty of “Avenue of the Secret Fur,” where Frawley’s piano walks a lonely path through understated backdrop sounds.
By design, Frawley keeps his works short–around 30 minutes. It’s a simple matter, then, to find time to make your way through his galleries. That is, if you can take spending some time in other people’s emotional shadows and you don’t mind being that voyeur.
released September 9, 2010
I wrote the music, or improvised the music, and played the piano. I also chose the found sounds and did the electronic processing and arrangements. Rachel breathed, spoke and sang. Greg provided certain sounds in the bass register. Some voices are those of narrator "Secrets", who reads for Librivox.org
. "Descension Day" features double bass bowed harmonics played by Houston Guy, courtesy of user "Stomachache" on Freesound.org
. "Yes, please yes" is based around dialogue samples borrowed from the BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama "Sacred Hearts". Special thanks to J.C. for sharing his personal collection with me. Cover illustration is a detail from "Ava in the Snow", by Natasha Newton [ theblackbirdsings.typepad.com
], used by permission. Speak of this to no one. -JF