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A long-distance correspondence reflecting on the infravoice of a blue whale and other so-called "silent" subjects. An experiment in listening to frequencies beyond human sensorial range, Silent Whale Letters is a long-distance correspondence intimately attuned to the infravoice of a blue whale, a document held silent in the sound archive, and other so-called "silent" subjects. As part of an ongoing collaboration between Ella Finer and Vibeke Mascini the letters consider how the silent document shifts the logic of the archive, figuring listening as a practice of preservation. As the letters attune to the ocean loud with communications across time and space, the authors write about the movement of matter, of energies, wavelengths, currents and how the ocean preserves as it disperses what it carries. How does working with what we cannot see, or even hear within range, shift the parameters of attention? How does the energetic archival space of the ocean agitate and disrupt claims to knowledge, history, and power? Moving through three years of call and response the book unfolds through "a joint meditation on the transformative potential of a note, a voice, carried from saltwater into the archive" (Rebecca Giggs). They chart a process that is equally conceptual and intimate, theoretical and deeply personal, moving through discussions of (amniotic) undercurrents, call-and-response mechanisms, energetic wavelengths, oceanic and archival memory, mysterious scales, and the watery acoustic commons.

Silent Whale Letters – Ella Finer & Vibeke Mascini

Otoroku is delighted to present an extraordinary set from harpist Rhodri Davies, an artist immersed in the worlds of improvisation, musical experimentation, composition and contemporary classical performance. He plays harp, bray harp, horse-hair harp, electric harp, and builds wind, water, ice, dry ice and fire harp installations and has released eight solo albums. In this solo harp performance, recorded at OTO in April 2024, Davies' inimitable playing style is showcased to full effect, with a sound that seems to span from Welsh harp to arched or ‘bow’ harp playing found in Sub-Saharan African traditions; Indian ragas to the circling, synthesized arpeggios of Laurie Spiegel, touching on the insistent player-piano pieces of Conlon Nancarrow along the way. Alternating between improvisations and improvisations with pre-written pieces across the set, Davies lets the distinctions between the two melt and spill over, giving space to breathe and expand. 'Gardd a Thŷ' for example (from Davies' Telyn Wrachïod release from earlier in 2024), is unfurled out to nearly twice its original album length, with Davies darting about each melody and motif like a moth around a flame. Each improvisatory section meanwhile, feels equally present and alive, with clusters of notes rising and tumbling around each other as insistent, repeated phrases ebb and flow like mantras to a rapt OTO audience. Ultimately, the overarching impression you are left with is that of Davies' intuitive and deeply felt relationship to the harp, embracing the instrument's traditions whilst constantly seeking new paths towards its future. A remarkable recording from one of the most vital artists currently working today. -- Recorded by Dan EhrlichMixed and mastered by Oli BarrettCover photo by Daryl Feehely

Rhodri Davies – 18.4.24

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