What greater combo exists, rare and under-practiced as it is, than the moving experience of reading and listening at the same time? In this medium flit a number of temporal questions should be asked: how long is a piece of music and how long does it take to sub-vocally read a poem? Is there an issue if one medium ends before the other? Engage autoplay and a track begins explicitly without pause. What importance does / should synchronisation have in the consumption of this work? And on, should it matter if the listener / reader engages with either artefact separately or in isolate from its other half?
Upon first play-through of Georgie McVicar’s Tiny Grassland the listener will become acquainted with a significant number of quiet voices. They make little noise. They proliferate in number as the album reaches its climax. Then they disappear. Little voices from audiobooks and plays and TV. Each voice here, for me at least, whether words are understandable or not, reminds me of the book that comes with this album. And more significantly, reminds me of the painstaking schema of the object, devised by Georgie not as a form of sonification of data or a real environment, rather, a schematic towards something more nebulose and rummaging, a biome of oneself, a schema which functions (in my opinion) as a sonification of that little voice one uses to read, privately, in the head.
Of course another unvoiced reading occurs when someone looks at a score like someone who looks at words. And when someone reads the news and imagines their own present and future sub-vocalised in its story. In Transports of Joy, Georgie has a rhythmic pattern long thought stable suddenly double, angrily, full of energy, and then de-double, just as quickly, emptying out, and what you are left with is a lone synth, the squelching of the trees, perhaps, as their leaves curl inward, suffering from an illness Georgie writes of, rotsong, and other sad illnesses of the present captured in this text, ecocide, ecosilence, and catastrophes of the near future rendered bathetic. By the time you reach the track Live Stills you hear announced a pattern which holds and has held itself throughout this album, clearer in some ways than a picture, belaboured softly, ‘I need a place to moan in’, and what happens is this, the music starts off with a pattern and then there is a loud bang and then the pattern comes back but it’s different, raised in some ways, more emotional and more strong, and for that moment alone I’d stop reading my words and turn the page now, gently, and continue with the next song.
- Emile Frankel
25% of label profits will be donated to uffcampaign.org
released August 17, 2021
All music produced by Georgie McVicar
Mastered by Dominic Clare @ declaredsound.com
Artwork photograph courtesy Yogendra Joshi
Book design by Julian Jaschke @ offgrid.team
Book contributions by Emile Frankel, Gribs, Laurel Uziell, Daniel S Evans