Harry Bertoia - Clear Sounds / Perfetta LP
Harry Bertoia came to the research and development of sound sculptures through the success of his furniture design. The chairs he crafted for Knoll in the '50s were fashioned from simple grids of steel rods molded into ergonomic forms. These became iconic of the mid-century modern aesthetic, still beloved by many to this day. By the early '60, Bertoia turned his attention full-time to sculpture using many of the same types of steel rods from his furniture, often stacking and bundling these in geometric shapes. Through the use of these rods in both furniture and sculpture, he became intimately familiar with the sounds of his materials banging and clattering together. Thus, he began producing sculptures that were intended to make sound by affixing parallel rods of to a soundboard, harnessing the resonant shimmer and glisten of his material. These sound sculptures proliferated in his large barn of a studio, with Bertoia tinkering with the possibility of recording these sculptures in the context of composed interventions. These sounds are haunted and ethereal with lengthy acoustic decay on the metallic timbres, showcasing a complexity of sustained tone that were rarely matched outside the electro-acoustic drones of Organum and Andrew Chalk. Throughout the '70s, he self-published 11 albums under his own Sonambient imprint, all of which had been reissued through Important on a CD box set earlier this year.
Somanbient unearths two previously unpublished recordings from the Bertoia archive, with "Clear Sounds" dating from 1973 and "Perfetta" from 1971. Both pieces are emblematic of the Bertoia sound: lush, harmonic passages of glistening tones that billow, collapse and dissolve as manifestations of organic yet hallowed sound. A necessary rediscovery to one of the great American sound sculptors of the 20th Century.