The first in a series of minimal drone studies of acoustic instruments.
This recording features 32" tam-tam, together with field recordings and singing bowls.
No artificial effects have been used.
Deep melancholic bass swells emerge from the white noise of the trees, which give way to blackened low-end rumbles, floating midrange drones, and fragile, crystalline singing bowls.
released March 24, 2016
32” tam-tam (hand-held microphones)
Field recordings of psithurism and room sounds (hand-held recording device)
Singing bowls (four microphones)
32” tam-tam played and recorded by Chris Gowers, winter 2013, London, UK.
Singing bowls played by Chris Gowers, recorded by Colin Bradley, autumn 2015 at University Centre, Doncaster, UK. Microphone placement and room set-up by Colin Bradley.
Field recordings made in various locations and times from during 2015 by Chris Gowers.
Arrangement completed late 2015 in London, UK, amidst the slow swells of the trees outside.
All sounds recorded acoustically, no artificial effects have been added.
Mastered by Fraser McGowan early 2016.
Photography by Chris Gowers taken at various times in Northern Finland, Northern Sweden and in North London, UK.
Special thanks to Fraser McGowan and Colin Bradley for the sonic alchemy.
This is part one of the Arche series of recordings.
Lowered is a solo and collaborative project founded by UK artist Chris Gowers.
Loosely described as “acoustic abstract drone music”, recordings are slow and contemplative, and explore the intricacies of tone, the subjectivity of experience and the nature of environment.
Lowered employs reductive playing processes that centre on the timbral qualities of the instruments as well as the space in which they are recorded, allowing the sounds to breathe and evolve.
This is not improvised music however, and while aleatoric processes form the basis of many works, compositions are carefully developed to occupy a counterpoint between distance and control.
Recording takes place without any digital effects or treatment, instead relying on experiments with microphone placement and naturally reverberant recording spaces.
The debut LP ‘Lost Seas’ sketched loose, minimal compositions based principally around piano and cello. The follow-up ‘Arche’ series sees a further distillation of Lowered's ascetic sonic palette by presenting 30 minute drone studies of single instruments. The first instalment, 'Arche (For Gongs)' CD, was created from recordings of a 32" tam-tam with the percussive sounds absent, thereby stripping away any performance element of the piece to form a dense arrangement of decaying tones.
Future recordings currently being planned are the second instalment of the Arche series, a long-player for piano and cello as well as some collaborative works.
Arche (For Gongs) is a deliciously deceptive dronescape, the first in a series planned by Chris Gowers (previously reviewed as Karina ESP), whose Lowered persona was created to explore the properties of acoustic drone music. In fact, a brief, exquisite coda introduces singing bowls, an apparent sneak preview of the next installment.
The waxing and waning tones of the lowering tam-tam (a traditional Chinese gong of bronze or brass), edited so the sounding strike is not heard, flare like quasars, in slo-mo pulses. In the background, hypersensitive recording equipment picks up the wind dancing through the leaves of the trees outside, though the constant susurration might just as well be sheets of rainfall or a cicada summer. While unadulterated by digital or any other kind of treatment, Gowers´ strand of ebbing tones tricks the ear into hearing an electroacoustic suite in which no two drones are alike.
Depending on your predisposition, Arche (For Gongs) may serve either as a tranquility base conducive to self-obliterating meditation or a riveting sound experience that brings the mind into sharp focus.
- Igloo Magazine
This is something different from debut album but it has the same level of experience. Chris Gowers seems to push further his music, the kind of exploration that we like to call art. Starting from the artwork, we are immediately catapulted in an undefined place, something that we have to discover with all our senses.
A drone flow is the introduction, like a whispered noisy wind that drive us in the composition; the vibration grows and the sound changes direction in a minimal way but still with a strong level of undetermined feelings and introspection to found them. Deeper and deeper until to touch the noise of silence, with the refined “game” of fragile and natural layers overlapping.
The final part stabilizes the tension of the sound. And we go back to reality. Arche (For Gongs) is the proof of the talent of Lowered: he knows how to shape and examine his recordings to give a vivid experience to the listener; there isn’t only a technical ability but it is also a wonderful exploration of the appearance of the sound. A beauty piece of art.
- Son Of Marketing
This is the first in a series of works called 'Arche', and each will focus on a single instrument, along with some field recordings. Behind Lowered we find Chris Gowers, who we'd met in the past when he worked as Karina ESP and running the labels Evelyn Records and Trome Records. This new release is on a label called The Remains Of My Estate, but the catalogue number is 'trome006', so perhaps in some way there is a continuation? As said this is made with the tam-tam and field recordings, which I think might be best described as 'recordings of sea waves' but according to the cover is Psithurism (which according to the dictionary means 'the sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves'), with some singing bowls at the end (a forecast to the next instalment in fact), but it is also important to realize that all of this was recorded acoustically, with no 'artificial/digital effects or treatments being used', which is not easy to believe I would think, but so be it. It also says that 'all percussive sounds are absent, thereby removing the performance element of the piece to leave an arrangement of pure, decaying tones. The aim of the piece was to minimise the human element, both from a performance perspective as well as compositional one, and to focus on the pure resonant response of the instrument', which might all be mighty fine, but obviously the tam tam has been played, one way or another, however minimal it might have been and by adding field recordings and singing bowls towards the end, there is for sure an element of composition, I'd say. I have no idea how this was played and recorded by I must say I quite enjoyed these thirty minutes. Obviously it all sounded very drone like but ever since Thomas Köner and Mark Wastell that is perhaps the defined sound of the tam tam? It will also be sounding like the unearthly rumble, like the sound is coming from the earth core: deep and mysterious. It may be something you heard before, but the overall consistency the music was made, the execution the piece, it all worked very well, I thought. This is one excellent piece of drone music. Can't wait for the next instalments and maybe hear the complete piece by then.
- Vital Weekly
Innanzitutto non si può non salutare con piacere il ritorno alle pubblicazioni della piccola etichetta inglese Trome (The Remains Of My Estate).
Protagonista ne lo stesso titolare Chris Gowers (Karina ESP), che avvia un trittico di proposte basate su un solo strumento con un’uscita del suo altro progetto Lowered, consistente in un’unica traccia di mezz’ora interamente incentrata sull’impiego aritmico del tam-tam, piccolo gong dalla superficie piana e non ripiegata verso l’interno.
Nessuna ulteriore manipolazione digitale ha dato luogo alla traccia, che del concetto di drone offre una declinazione primigenia, che accanto alle sue naturali irregolarità fisiche conserva inalterata la sua potenzialità ipnotica.
- Music Won't Save You (pubblicato su Rockerilla n. 429, maggio 2016)
Arche (For Gongs) is the first in a Lowered series, wherein minimal drones are made acoustically, without processed treatments. The sounds here have been extracted from a huge tam tam, augmented with singing bowls and the background hiss of the local environment. Deep and subtle vibes. Limited edition of 100 copies on Trome.
- Norman Records