‘Weightless Animals’ (12 ” picture disk) is the first vinyl project release from a collaboration of 3 artists. Zoologist, shopkeeper and electronic gadget hex Kaffe Matthews, BAFTA nominee film-maker Mandy McIntosh, and electric harp pioneer and Bjork collaborator Zeena Parkins.
This is the accompaniment to the beautifully constructed website www.weightlessanimals.com. A website of interactive sonic space cartoons selected from two years of work following a research trip to NASA,Texas in 2002 armed with question for the NASA staff like “What would be your soundtrack for space?”
The raw research (Columbia’s wake up music transmitted from mission control, samples from the official NASA jukebox, live electronic activity from space transmitted from huge radios and even the inspiration of zero gravity hair styles!) was forged together to make a stunning and engaging body of work.
The opening track ‘Locating’ is a non-human vacuum with surges of a broken hearted pulse from a minimal keyboard drone. The static from the vinyl itself only makes the piece seem more desperate and distant. ‘Humans Are Here‘ splatters a disjointed honky-tonk piano with a rave crowd crushed by stars in blink-sized chunks as if the void is claiming back human attempts at knowing their own creator.
The fear of human loneliness expanded on with ‘Scary Landlady’, David Keen’s slide guitar sounds like our collective cries lost in the heavens ignored by stars and angels alike. ‘Still Here’ seems to replicate the meeting point of a dictaphone that has been thrown into a red shift. The abstract thought of humans sending their own species up there is summed up on the vinyl’s last track the sublime and dream like ‘Wake Up Crew‘ – made up from transmissions from mission control.
As a piece of work it addresses some key cultural questions. Why are we investigating a void when we do not understand our own hearts ? This female perspective and their incredible use of sound deconstructs the yearning of men to dominate space, the vanity of nothingness chased by millions of dollars of investment. Boys with toys.
We are not able to hear in space but this trio have presented an answer, a soundtrack that mirrors mans empty heart. One of the most challenging gauntlets to be thrown down between the sexes in the creative and cultural community in a long time and one that will take a longtime to answer.
Review by Justin Wiggan at
Justin Wiggan is a phonic artist who works with Dreams Of Tall Buildings, robotti nu se pot ruga and as Geography of Nowhere.