Anne Guthrie

Perhaps A Favorable Organic Moment

1. Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude (i) (10:15)
2. Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude (ii) (8:51)
3. Times Center, NYC 2010 (9:14)
4. Annie Laurie (i) (12:55)
5. Annie Laurie (ii) (2:40)

mastered by Billy Gomberg
sweater knit by Anne Guthrie

glass-mastered CDs in full color digipacks
edition of 150 copies

Within the first few minutes of Perhaps a Favorable Organic Moment, the listener is treated to an engrossing intimacy, an interlocutory field recording between Anne Guthrie's sources and herself. The opening track, "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude I," commences with minutes of the sounds of sparse traffic, maybe from Guthrie's open window. It is in these introductory moments that Perhaps constructs Guthrie's sound world, the environment in which the remainder of the album confides.

Just shy of five minutes into this track, Guthrie's french horn appears out of the airy ambiance (the french horn isn't credited on the album, but the instrument's regal timbres are unmistakeable), playing a transcribed version of Bach's titular Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude. The mic'ing is distant and unfocused, capturing the room's hiss, the clatter of the horn's keys against its brass, and Guthrie's breaths, all alongside the suite. Notes are often just off; Guthrie frequently restarts mistaken passages. "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude I" could easily be an extempore sight reading, presenting Guthrie and her space, its view and all. The playing isn't perfect, yet the recording is; the track is refreshingly relatable, as opposed to the virtuosity of Fournier or Rostropovich.

If the first part's earnest nature was arresting, the second is utterly naked in comparison. In and of itself, "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude II" is a warped, glass-rubbed piece with flickers of recognizable sounds. And, when played beside "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude I," it becomes immediately apparent that "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude II's" source is in fact "Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude I." This candor is devastatingly affecting, once again allowing the listener to hear a part of Perhaps from Guthrie's perspective — a gorgeous one, I might add.

"Times Center, NYC 2010" is an intermission from the above narrative, presenting a more conventional, though nonetheless beautiful, field recording. Presumably capturing the titular space, the track builds into the everyday squalor of New York City. The space sounds claustrophobic, full of traffic, the subway, and children's yells. As the piece progresses, Guthrie injects a tonal drone, which dominates by the track's end.

In a delightful symmetry, Perhaps is concluded by "Annie Laurie I" and "Annie Laurie II." As the names suggest, the relationship between the two is akin to that of "Prelude I" and "Prelude II." However, on this side of "Times Center, NYC 2010," we're first given the finished, treated piece. "Annie Laurie I" begins with hums heard in "Times Center, NYC 2010," a modulated tunnel of traffic, perhaps. A few minutes in, an unsure female voice enters, singing a familiar but obfuscated tune. Throughout the piece, this voice (presumably Guthrie's) enters for seconds, all the while submissive to its surroundings. For the duration of "Annie Laurie I," the origin of the sung melody is forever on the tip of your tongue, mocking your inability to place it.

Luckily Perhaps can't keep a secret for too long, revealing the melody in its conventional performance on "Annie Laurie II," the titular, traditional Scottish song. Completing the portrayal of the reverse side of the input/output dynamic in musique concrète, "Annie Laurie II" is a fitting end to one of the most honest and intimate albums I've heard in quite a while.

- Matthew Horne, Tiny Mix Tapes

The windows have been well and truly thrown open between the closed space of "music" and the world outside – maybe with time the misleading phrase "field recordings" will disappear along with other inanities like "drone" (who knows, perhaps one day the word "music" itself won't mean much any more, but I don't think we're quite there yet) – and this fine album by French horn player / sound artist Anne Guthrie enjoys the fresh air in style.

On the opening track she pointed a Sony PCM 50 out of her bedroom window and hit RECORD while she practised Wendell Hoss's transcription of the "Prelude" from J.S.Bach's second Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, complete with the gentle clicks from the valves of the horn itself and the sound of passing traffic. She then played the tape back on a "tiny Radio Shack speaker" placed in a large bell jar, and re-recorded the results Alvin Lucier style to create a rich cloud of subtly delayed sustained frequencies and glistening feedback, from which fragments of Bach (not to mention the odd car horn and various inscrutable jingling sounds) shoot out like shafts of sunlight from time to time.

The central track was recorded in the lobby of Renzo Piano's snazzy New York Times Center in Midtown Manhattan, in which sounds both recognisable – snatches of guitar, echoing footsteps and voices near and far – and mysterious (where do those lovely steely drones that close the track come from?) combine to form a beautifully complex sound environment. It should come as no surprise to learn that Guthrie is currently a doctoral student in Architectural Acoustics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. On the strength of this track alone I'd give her the degree right away.

On track four Guthrie took her mics out to Fort Tilden Beach ("the city's best-kept secret", according to the New York Summer Guide) and recorded the sounds of a metal grid bridge, which she processed and combined with herself singing of "Annie Laurie" recorded "under a stone arch in Prospect Park." The unadorned rendition of an old Scottish folk song makes for a touching conclusion to an excellent album, one that's as intriguing and thought-provoking as it is fun to listen to.

- Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

Anne Guthrie est une musicienne américaine mieux connue pour ses installations électroacoustiques que pour ses improvisations au cor d'harmonie, parallèlement elle compose aussi des pièces pour orchestre de chambre et écrit un peu de poésie. "Perhaps a favorable organic moment", sa dernière œuvre en date, est une pure merveille qui réunit presque toutes ces facettes, une oeuvre si riche et qui pose tellement de questions tout en évoquant une infinité de notions, qu'il sera impossible pour moi de tout énumérer: de ce que l'on peut ressentir ou penser à l'écoute de ce disque, mais même de ce que j'ai pensé et ressenti moi-même durant ces trois mouvements.

Autant le dire tout de suite, la première pièce, "Bach Cello Suite N. 2, Prelude", de cet ensemble de trois mouvements électroacoustiques, constitue le véritable sommet de ce disque, et elle suffit elle-seule à qualifier ce disque de chef d’œuvre. Autant par son originalité, son assurance, son intelligence que par sa sensibilité. Cette œuvre prodigieuse qui interroge la perception arrive à concrétiser le point de vue d’espaces tampons, d’espaces de transition, d’opposition et de médiation. Matériellement, Anne Guthrie semble avoir placé son micro dans l’encadrement d’une fenêtre ouverte : nous pouvons ainsi entendre voitures, klaxons, et différents bruits urbains durant les premières minutes, jusqu’à ce qu’Anne Guthrie s’installe dans la pièce pour venir y travailler, imparfaitement mais avec amour, une suite de Bach pour violoncelle, interprétée ici au cor d’harmonie – plus le fonds sonores extérieur toujours présent. La première partie de ce mouvement matérialise l’opposition et la transition entre l’extérieur et l’intérieur (ce qui permet de véritablement matérialiser un espace, par le seul biais d’outils sonores), entre l’environnement ambiant et l’intimité, entre l’espace privé et l’espace public, entre l’hostilité urbaine et la sensibilité intime, entre l’objectivité et la subjectivité en somme. Quant à la seconde partie, le travail de modification de ces mêmes sources sonores permet d’unir ou de réunir ces oppositions qui font partie intégrante de la personnalité et de l’environnement de la jeune compositrice américaine. La puissance émotionnelle de la suite de Bach, accompagnée de l’abstraction froide des "field-recordings" réunissent passé et futur, résurgence baroque et expérimentations électroacoustiques, en une œuvre absolument merveilleuse, intelligente, subtile, délicate et belle.

J’en ai déjà beaucoup dit sur ce premier mouvement et il faudra bien mettre un terme à cette chronique (d’un disque que je voudrais pourtant interminable et qui a du mal à sortir de ma platine). Venons-en donc au mouvement central : "Times Center, NYC 2010," basé uniquement sur des enregistrements de terrain à l’intérieur du hall des locaux du célèbre journal américain. Comme dans son précédent album, "Standing Sitting" (chroniqué ici), Anne Guthrie utilise un matériau simple et réaliste qui interroge surtout les liens entre l’espace et le son. Par le biais de quelques modifications simples et réduites (réverbération, réduction ou augmentation de la vitesse de quelques fréquences), Guthrie arrive prodigieusement et magiquement à restituer le cadre spatial de l’enregistrement, uniquement à partir d’évènements sonores, et non par la médiation de l’imagination ou de la psychologie. Cependant, ces dernières caractéristiques ne sont pas absentes de ce mouvement pour autant, mais ce sont l’imagination et l’état émotionnel et perceptif d’Anne Guthrie seulement que nous pouvons ressentir à travers les manipulations électroacoustiques, ces modifications qui pointent l’individualité même de Guthrie (son idipsum...). Une pièce puissante qui, comme dans le précédent album de Guthrie, arrive de manière hallucinante, précise et virtuose, à restituer un espace concret par le seul biais de ses caractéristiques et de ses propriétés sonores.

Comme on l’a déjà noté, cette pièce forme l’axe central de ces trois mouvements, l’axe symétrique plus précisément. Il s’ensuit donc que le troisième mouvement, "Annie Laurie," reprend forcément des éléments conceptuels inversés de "Bach Cello Suite N. 2, Prelude." La première partie est une lecture ralentie d’enregistrements intimes encore une fois, le point de vue assourdi d’une fenêtre (le son est si sourd qu’on a l’impression d’être comme à l’intérieur du verre)  qui médiatise le chant et l’environnement urbain duquel le premier surgit. La tradition est encore rappelée, cette fois par le bourdon, quelquefois  très proche du bourdonnement d’un essaim de guêpes d’ailleurs, créé par les bruits environnants et citadins. Comme on pouvait s’y attendre, la seconde partie se compose de "field-recordings" non-manipulés, d’où émerge le mélancolique et sensuel "Annie Laurie." Et malgré la démarche expérimentale quelque peu jusqu’au-boutiste et systématique de cette pièce, il y a toujours des réminiscences de musique populaire, notamment à travers l’utilisation de l’hymne ancestral et sentimental "Annie Laurie," interprétée toujours par la compositrice.

"Perhaps a favorable organic moment" est une formidable suite de trois mouvements symétriques qui nous entrainent au plus près d’une réalité concrète et complexe d’une part, mais également au cœur de la sensibilité, de l’intimité et de l’individualité d’Anne Guthrie, une immersion intime et sensible au plus profond de la perception et des sentiments de la compositrice. Une démarche expérimentale assez simple et quelque peu extrême, mais qui ne manque ni de chaleur, ni de délicatesse et d’attention. Un chef d’œuvre hautement sensible, original et radical : une œuvre formidable, merveilleuse et prodigieuse, etc. A écouter absolument !

- Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere

I didn’t feel remotely like writing about music tonight. Its really hot and humid here, I slept for much of the early evening after being at work in the early hours, bad news seems to be coming to me every ten minutes (RIP Cy Twombly) and in between the bad news comes current events in the news that just makes me angry. Trying to focus and then gather my thoughts together enough to write anything coherent isn’t easy, so apologies in advance if the following review says nothing of interest at all…

Anne Guthrie is a name I didn’t know a couple of years back but is now producing music in New York that is consistently of interest. As I have been listening to her recent new solo album on the Copy for your Records label over recent days a further cassette sits unplayed to my side, and opening a jiffy bag a few moments ago revealed another CD she is involved with on the Ilse label. I also wrote about her last solo here more than a year ago now. The new release is named Perhaps a favorable organic moment and is the first release on the CFYR label to arrive in a handsome digipack. It features five tracks, grouped into three sections, with the third, central track standing alone. Tracks one and two then are each named Bach Cello Suite No.2, Prelude. When the first track begins, the seemingly odd title makes little sense as we hear a vaguely distant urban environment, busy roads, the hum of city life etc, perhaps through an open window as other sounds here and there seem closer to hand and more contained, though I may well be wrong here. The sounds are somehow quite soothing, not aggressive, but perhaps what we might expect them to be, and for a while I began to wonder if this album was just to be field recordings played straight, but then, after almost exactly five minutes of this stillness, with just the odd small sound near the microphone here and there we suddenly get a loud, completely foregrounded brass instrument appear, playing the familiar Bach prelude, or something close to it. I’m not sure exactly what the instrument is, and no credit is listed, but given that Guthrie plays the French horn in other groups I think its a fair guess to assume she is playing here. Now I imagine that it isn’t easy to play a cello piece on a French horn, but this isn’t a virtuoso performance by any means, rather it sounds like Guthrie practicing by herself, almost as if she didn’t know the recorder was on, though that scenario is obviously unlikely. The horn goes on for quite a while then, and completely owns the track, distracting you completely from the grey hum of the city which remains in the background. At the ten minute mark the track just ends, and the second piece, the second half of the two tracks labelled with the Bach title begins.

Here its sounds as if the same recording has been used as source material for this track. We hear a kind of hazy, underwater rendition of what I think are elements of the same recording, with the city dissolving into a darker, featureless hum, the horn warping and twisting as if it had been blown apart by a strong wind, and some nice little tinkling metallic sounds appearing. This piece is beautiful, and its even more rewarding to realise that it has been extracted somehow from the piece that preceded it. Its a calm, though slightly off centred track, a blurred shadow of the original piece. The two work very well hand in hand.

The third and central piece is named Times Center, NYC 2010 and seems to be a nine minute long straight-up field recording of a busy urban place. I’m not sure what the Times Center is, but we seem to hear an indoor recording but in a vast space, so sounds, (many of them human, children shouting, massed chatter etc…) reverberate around the space, and also the recording. There is also a kind of shimmering drone-like sound added to the track, that initially sounds like it is just part of the original site recording, perhaps music playing or some kind of industrial whirring, but as the track nears its end the field recording element drops away to reveal that this sound is added on top, perhaps an entirely synthetic sound, perhaps a filtering of the original recording again, but the interesting thing for me is how when you first listen this extra layer feels part of the natural sounds, and only when Guthrie pulls back and reveals all do we notice it didn’t belong int he first place.

The final two pieces then form a final suite named Annie Laurie, which is an old traditional Scottish folk song, and sure enough the song appears in the work. The first of the two pieces sounds like a heavily treated field recording of some kind. A formless, ghostly cloud of sound, (perhaps more city noises filtered somehow?) can be heard, slowly building into a more intense swarm-like sound that resembles insects flying past a microphone. Over this though, stopping and starting often we hear a murky recording of a female voice (maybe Guthrie again?) singing the folk song, or little bits of it. This track is actually a little disturbing in its feeling of darkly intriguing mystery, but when when the final track, and second half of this suite appears we hear the voice singing more clearly, but in an empty, resonant space, with the city heard again in the background, and a reverberating passing aircraft playing the insect part. Clearly as the first suite of the album, the Bach recordings, saw the opening field recording as the first half and a treated version for the second, so this final Annie Laurie suite mirrors it, with the final three minute long field recording used to create the longer thirteen minute construction that preceded it.

This is fascinating stuff and a really hearteningly interesting use of field recording as a creative tool. Presenting a disc full of the original recordings would have been nice enough, as there is enough originality and curiosity to be found surrounding them to make them interesting enough, on top of the beauty contained in them as well (the final vocals on the folk song are very beautiful) the way the pieces have been treated and reconfigured to form new works again that complement the originals so well is excellent. Fine stuff then, certainly a CD I would heartily recommend to those like me that are a little jaded by so many field recordings based releases that all sound very similar and looking for something subtly but intelligently different.

- Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear

I was already a fan of Anne Guthrie through her Fraufraulein recordings with Billy Gomberg on the excellent Homophoni netlabel, so I was pretty excited to receive this solo record through the post. Perhaps a Favorable Organic Moment is made up of three pieces, the first and third of which are each split into two movements. Guthrie is a French horn player as well as a collector of field recordings, and the first piece utilises both. “Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude” begins with around five minutes of untreated, slightly distant-sounding street noises, as if heard through the open window of an apartment. Slowly, the tentative first strains of the titular cello suite are heard, played by Guthrie on French horn, as if you are hearing a practice session in the room next door. The street sounds fade and the horn becomes the focal point. Guthrie’s rendition is halting and imperfect, slightly awkward but sweet all the same, drifting up to you like Holly Golightly’s guitar in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Part II of the cello suite features less horn and more field recording, but the sound is processed so heavily as to become an ominous whir, like that coming from an air conditioning unit. You can just hear the French horn but this time it’s like you’re hearing it from within an elevator shaft and it feels claustrophobic rather then bright and airy like the first recording. Two perspectives on the same piece of music: one from the gutter, one from the stars.

The central piece, titled “Times Centre, NYC 2010″ is for the most part a straight-forward field recording of an inside space filled with people going about their business. The voices of children echo, feet squeak on the shiny floors and, as the track progresses over its nine minutes, a drone emerges out of the hustle and bustle and eventually becomes the most noticeable element. It’s a familiar technique, but an effective one nonetheless.

"Annie Laurie," again split in two, completes the disc and this time begins in the doldrums. Here Guthrie sings a version of a Scottish folk ballad, first from underneath what sounds like a busy road bridge and then from out in the open, where you can hear aeroplanes in the sky and other signs of recognizable human life. The first section processes the buzz of fast-moving traffic so that it starts off sounding like a cloud of flies. When Guthrie’s voice emerges it is muffled and choked by the humming but dawdles on intermittently, barely audible for the most part. The effect is really spooky; it is as if the ballad is being sung by a lonely ghost who’s trapped beneath the bridge. When the microphone rises and we can hear the traffic more clearly I find it strangely heartbreaking, like the ghost has climbed the banking to look at a world it’s is no longer possible for her to inhabit. Soon enough she descends again into the netherworld.

Relief is short but sweet; the second part of "Annie Laurie" is less than three minutes long but feels like a long, cool shower. Again, this brought to mind Holly Golightly out on the fire escape, singing her sad songs that "[make] you wonder where she learned them". "Annie Laurie," taken as a whole, is a real stand-out for me. Two sides of the same coin but so radically different in sound and effect, and as such one of my favorite pieces of work this year. (7/10)

- Steve Dewhurst, Foxy Digitalis

Noua lucrare a Annei Guthrie își propune să fie cât mai neobișnuită cu putință – și ușor contradictorie, aspirând cu un scenariu ”meta” și totuși în limitele evocativului redării, de nu și cu câteva poticniri calitative care coboară la voia întâmplării. Explorând subtilități de field recording sau avansând dincolo de asemenea simple imprimări, jucându-se cu o aparentă simetrie a pieselor de pe album și opoziție a momentelor din cadrul pieselor, profilând o gramadă de niveluri ale înconjurătorului și intimului deopotrivă – în timp ce pentru toate astea Perhaps a Favorable Organic Moment primește o grămadă de laude, reverența mea este pusă la încercare de câteva idei sau exprimări care nu se pricep.

În afară de ”Times Center, NYC 2010”, dorit un interludiu convențional (pesemne o captare a freamătului din spațiul galeriei), oricum cu o frumusețe proprie, ambele două piese importante ale albumului au ca sursă o anume atmosferă și trec pe parcurs într-un complet diferită, ceva ce eu gândesc a fi un inside-out (sau, de multe ori, inversul) între ambiant și proxim, între divers și particular.

Nicicând primul nivel de percepție nu este categoric. Prima parte a ”Preludiului” de Bach se instalează pe sunete nu foarte frecvente din trafic, cu un zumzet constant de fond; aceeași atmosferă potolită poate fi, de fapt, distantă, auzită de pe verandă sau de la geam, ceea ce impune deja o perspectivă nouă; totul se resoarbe odată cu intervenția instrumentală, o ciudată redare a piesei de suită la corn francez în loc de violoncel. Calitatea muzicală nu mai pare importantă, în fond fragilitatea și stângăcia acestei bucăți fiind apreciată în alte recenzii, văzând în ea o ”primă citire” sau o redare cu dificultăți, multe opriri, chixuri, aer tras în piept după fiecare frază. În partea a doua, îmi place deja foarte mult ce aud; ai zice că totul se mută în altă ”cameră”, într-o atmosferă mai înfundată sau bruiată, dar schimbarea acustică este pentru mine un revers, un ”negativ”, procesat chiar electronic, cu unde dronale, cu frânturi din preludiu într-un ecou difuz, dar în special cu tentativa de a atinge rezonanțele interioare ale tuturor fenomenelor.

Asta este, zic eu, esențial: descripticul e garantat pe parcursul întregului album, dar e totodată destul de brut. Nu să recunosc claxoane, dangătul clopoțeilor agățați la fereastră sau timbrul înfoiat de corn mă mulțumește, ci esențe sau o transpoziție ireală, plăsmuită.

Annie Laurie” reface traseul în sens opus, deși ”A.L. I” ar fi în sine doar un darc-ambient intens (sau cel puțin o distorsiune într-atât de înecăcioasă a sunetelor, încât devin faux-drone), cu o ușoară hârșâire spectrală și un refren de cântec îngânat lălâu și nazal, dacă ultimele minute ale sale n-ar reveni în exterior, în forfota de bulevard, iar în ”A.L. II” am reauzi cântecul în întregime, o baladă irlandeză cântată natural și dulce, într-un spațiu deschis.

- Viktor Bach, Messianesque

I didn’t feel remotely like writing about music tonight. Its really hot and humid here, I slept for much of the early evening after being at work in the early hours, bad news seems to be coming to me every ten minutes (RIP Cy Twombly) and in between the bad news comes current events in the news that just makes me angry. Trying to focus and then gather my thoughts together enough to write anything coherent isn’t easy, so apologies in advance if the following review says nothing of interest at all…

Quite a wonderful very different kind of recording. Guthrie's taken a field recording concept and extended it into unexpected and moving areas. Several people have written on this release already, and written well, often noting how the album is quasi-symmetrically structured which, indeed, is interesting. The first two pieces are variations on Bach's "Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude" which Guthrie performs on her standard instrument of choice, the French horn. As Richard noted, it sounds as though she's playing for her own enjoyment in her studio, the window open allowing the sounds of the street to be clearly heard. The performance itself is rough, as though she's only begun to negotiate the undoubtedly difficult transferal from cello to horn. But one gets the sense that her ears were perhaps as much attuned to those exterior sounds as her horn and that the idea for the subsequent piece percolated at that time. In any case, that's the narrative I get as listener as in track two, the environmental sounds become wooly and richly blurred (offset with some metallic clinking), the horn compressed and kneaded into a sound reminiscent of a Terry Riley electronically enhanced soprano (though better). It's a wonderful piece, made even more so by the connection to its forebear.

The middle cut, "Times Center, NYC 2010" for quite a good portion of it's 9 minutes plus seems to be just that, the harshly limned sounds of people in a large interior space (one can almost see the fluorescent lighting). But there's a soft ringing thrum that subtly emerges every so often, casting a warm glow on matters. That glow morphs into a more insistent, higher pitched thrum, begins to establish a more equal footing with the screeching children and that odd, indecipherable vocal din you hear in such spaces; ultimately it's all you hear. In some ways, the piece is a variation on ideas found in Pisaro's "Transparent City" compositions, and a very lovely one.

The last two reverse, in a way, the approach of the initial pair, the first being a diffusion of the second. We hear what sounds like a treated recording of traffic whizzing by, possibly overhead (I was very much reminded of a favorite concert, Sean Meehan, Greg Kelley and Zach Wallace, playing very quietly beneath the FDR Drive overpass at 38th St. as cars roared above). It's a ghostly enough sound and when Guthrie enters, softly keening the Scottish ballad, "Annie Laurie", that spectral feeling is redoubled, like a spirit on the wind. As the piece enters its final minutes, the automotive volume is pushed, the machines achieving a sound like enormous hornets, the plaintive voice still peeking through--wonderful work. Guthrie then closes with a simple, but utterly beautiful, rendition of the song, sounding as though singing inside a park tunnel, the sounds of the city in the near distance.

An exceptional recording, one of my favorites of this year.

- Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

Guthrie defines herself as an "acoustician", a stimulating term potentially encompassing lots of different things. This 150-copy limited edition CD focuses instead on very few elements, the most important being the perception of the surroundings. The bulk of the matter is in fact defined by the incidence of metropolitan activity, close or in the background; the rest is left to expert processing, with a definite tendency to the choice of wrapping resonances that for long minutes escort the listener with head-congesting hums and lingering echoes. These spells comprise the album's finest facets, shaped as they are from the manipulation and/or expansion of less momentous fragments in which the protagonist practices Bach on her French horn or sings a folk lullaby, in both occasions with appreciable humanity bathed in inadequate intonation. The latter episodes would like to be considered as soulful sketches of warts-and-all audio verité in a way, but the opening track in particular results quite tedious after repeated listens. On the other hand, the inscrutable mix of vocal currents and zooming cars defining "Annie Laurie (I)‚" recalls, to some extent, Akira Rabelais' Spellewauerynsherde. An involuntary substantiation of this young woman's conscientious ears.

- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

For the second time this year I get to draw your attention to the fine imprint Copy For Your Records, on which Anne Guthrie's work, Perhaps A Favorable Organic Moment, came out earlier this year. A strange brew of Scottish balladry, a warts-and-all essaying of a Bach cello suite on her battered French horn, and Guthrie's remarkable synthesis of traffic, room tones, pedestrian cacophony, and beautifully limned sine tones, this one eludes words as much as anything I have written about. Guthrie's work in this area [do yourself a favor, and locate a copy of her standing sitting, released in 2010 on Engraved Glass, another gift of treated field recordings] is highly intuitive, with a finely developed capacity for fitting together disparate sonic elements in a way I find disarming-somehow Guthrie gets right to the heart of the matter in her solo works, no dross or superfluities. She has, and this is my highest praise, whatever sound area is under discussion, very big ears; and, like the aforementioned McLaughlin, a big heartedness to her music.

- Jesse Goin, Crow With No Mouth

This record is, unsurprisingly really, very good. One of the best things I've heard this year. There's a beautiful arc to the whole thing, five pieces, bookended with two tracks of straightforward simplicity, the middle exploring ranges of abstraction and manipulation. In some ways the most affecting parts are the first and last. In both cases, so intimate-feeling, even if they're recorded in obviously public settings. Beautiful, and it just all makes so much sense, it all fits together so perfectly.

- BW Diederich, Everything in Generalities

More thoughts on Anne Guthrie's "Perhaps a Favorable Organic Moment". In particular the first two tracks, Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude (i) and Bach Cello Suite No. 2, Prelude (ii). I've been listening to this quite a bit of late, and am finding a lot to enjoy and a lot to think about. Not sure if I'll give the other tracks the same treatment, which isn't to say they're less interesting or less enjoyable just that I lack follow-through. Also worth noting, this isn't really a review, more an attempt to capture in writing some of what I find so interesting in this music.

That first track starts off so unassuming. A field recording, room tone, voices passing, steps, cars or trains in the distance, and it just sits, stays. Until that french horn comes in. It's loud. Not jarring, but loud. The foreground suddenly becomes the background, and what at a first pass comes off as simple french horn playing, reveals a whole intimate world of secondary sound. Weaving in and out of her playing are these very intimate noises, making it seem like you're right next to her. Her breath between phrases, her fingers on the valves, and later, missteps, notes slightly off, phrases repeated in a way that is obviously not written. That's not to malign her playing, as I think it's beautiful, and works perfectly. But you get a sense of voyeurism, or less weirdly perhaps, of being invited to watch a practice. But through it all is still the environment, making itself known occasionally with a noise obviously not from Guthrie. It's somehow private and public, and on headphones especially, startlingly intimate.

As soon as the second track starts you can hear the similarities, but there's a distance, a remove, and what sounds almost like a doubling. The room tone of the field recording becomes a bit ominous. The natural resonance affected into a deeper hum, and soon enough you hear the french horn, but this time it's not natural at all. Not intimate, but alien. A weird doubling again, sounding like multiple french horns all playing snippets out of sync, bent, refracted. And the environment becomes alien as well, car horns repeating themselves, public space divided into chiming overtones, crystalline, unnatural. And it's frankly beautiful. A slow crawl, the hum growing and growing, the doubled french horn fading in and out of focus, at times stretched, at times clipped, always alien.

I love the relationship between these two pieces. They're both somewhat unsettling, but in very different ways. On the one hand there's that mix of intensely close, intimate recording and the cavernous sounding field recording in a public place. And in the second track we know the source material, have in fact just listened to it, but now it's both recognizable and alien all at the same time. What was almost sweet in a way becomes something a bit more forbidding (foreboding?). We can recognize it as coming from something familiar, but the result is unfamiliar.

There's an element of the magician revealing her tricks to this record that I appreciate. Or more accurately, of an artist sharing her source material. And that, I think, gets at what I like so much. I've (over)-used the word intimate when talking about this record because it feels so accurate. It's both intimate and inviting, even when sounding ominous and alien. Guthrie shares both source and result, and presents them on equal ground, making it clear that the first track is as much a work, complete and ready for other ears as the second track. I want to talk about honesty, but that feels cliched, but maybe not inaccurate.

Still highly recommend you buy this, if it's not clear.

- BW Diederich, Everything in Generalities

The release by Anne Guthrie is surely one of the stranger discs of this week. Guthrie is an 'acoustician, composer, French horn player and writer' from Brooklyn. She studies right now at Rensselaer Polytechnic (where Pauline Oliveros teaches) and she is interested in exploring non-musical sounds and acoustic phenomena. Nothing out of the ordinary for Vital Weekly, you might think. There are three pieces on this CD, of which the first and the last are separated into two parts. In the first we hear field recordings, humming quite low in part one and ventilator sounds in part two, over which Guthrie improvises with the French horn Bach's cello suite No. 2 (the prelude to be precise). The final piece repeats this but with Guthrie singing a folk song. Sandwiched between these two is a recording from Times Center in New York, which seems to be a pure field recordings piece. Its a bit unclear, but perhaps that's the great thing about music, if she is singing these pieces, or playing the horn, on location or wether she uses various recordings mixed together to create her pieces. Is she in a tunnel, like in the final piece suggests, or on the street in the piece before? Guthrie seems to be interested in creating audio illusions with her music - raising questions as to where and how things were made, if there was any subsequent treatments (which I doubt, but in her Times Center piece also difficult to ignore thinking about) and obviously what it all means. A most curious disc indeed. At first a bit annoying ('french horn trying to play Bach, what is that all about?'), but the more it is played - and use some more volume here - the better it gets.

- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Picked up on a little buzz surrounding this young sound artist lately, particularly from a rather favourable review in the Wire's Outer Limits section. I don't remember that review giving any mention of Guthrie as a French Horn player, and although it says so right there in her bio, I wasn't expecting it to make an appearance (at least not such a recognizable appearance) here. However, about four minutes into the opening recording of one of Guthrie's urban spaces, the French Horn makes its presence known, transforming the subtle sonic space into something much more overt. The horn emits a lackadaisical tune for five minutes or so, as if played by a busker in the late afternoon on some sunny European boulevard. I'm still scratching my head about this first piece, and ultimately I think the album would have probably faired better without the horn passage.

The rest of the album shines brightly, the second track seeing a much subtler processed approach to the horn, along with layered-in bells and varying harmonics. The third track, entitled Times Center, NYC 2010, is a field recording that remarkably captures the depth of the recorded space. Hundreds of overlapping voices and an array of electronic bleeps and sputters present themselves in numerous depth ranges, so as combined, they sound as if occupying the entire field. Annie Laurie, parts i & ii, conclude the album, the former is a haunting piece for windswept drone and ghostly voice while the latter is an a cappella version of Annie Laurie (I presume), being sung in another of Guthrie's "unique" acoustical spaces.

- Adrian Dziewanski, Scrapyard Forecast