CD Review: TJ Norris, various artists: triMix (Innova)

TrimixPart remix series, part gallery installation, part soundtrack, part DVD, this is kind of a tricky release to trace a path through, but here’s how the story goes: Portland-based artist TJ Norris puts together a 3-part series of installation under the umbrella name Tribryd, featuring photographs of derelict, abandoned and uninhabited spaces around the city (see some here). One theme of the Tribryd installations is the ever-shifting archaeology of the urban landscape. As part of his strategy for taking the pictures, Norris asks a number of musicians to write soundtracks for him to listen to whilst photographing. The pictures are taken and the installations put together, featuring as a key component new remixes of the original soundtracks. On top of this, the exhibitions also feature new video works by artists such as Sue Costabile and Ryan Jeffery using, if you still follow, several of the originally-commissioned soundtracks.

What you get on this two-disc release is a CD of the remixed tracks that were used in the installations and a DVD with four video works using the original soundtrack material. Norris’s own work appears at the end of the DVD as a swift slideshow survey of one of the Tribryd exhibitions. Although this recording is Norris’s project, he is foregrounding the efforts of his collaborators as something independent from the artworks with which they were so closely entwined. As you unpeel the layers of collaboration you hear echoes of Norris’s visual record of urban change. Many of his photos are of graffiti tags, stencils or posted bills, images that have authors themselves, and are often piled on top of one another, or juxtaposed by Norris in diptychs. It becomes impossible to say who did what, or what that ‘what’ is any more. Authorship and material detach and float freely, leaving you instead with the trace of steps taken through a series of artistic psyches.

The result might have been a plateau of dull compromise, but triMix really works as something in itself because of the variety of musical responses it has compiled, from post-melancholy guitar to minimalist noise washes. Although several tracks are strikingly beautiful it’s not an album to leave on while you do the washing up; but a closely attended journey through its many facets shows this to be a very successful sonic artwork in its own right.

Download “Continuum” (mp3)
from “Trimix”
by Nobukazu Takemura – after Scanner
Innova Recordings

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