Lisa Lerkenfeldt – Halos of Perception
By Kate Trebra | Top Tracks: Limestone, Cobwebs
When thinking of abandoned structures that might rest under a city (perhaps one such as Melbourne, Australia), it’s easy to be suffocated in the silent, damp air. How does sound travel through a concrete maze in an era of rapid urbanization? How does someone transform abandoned tunnels into a stage? Composer and artist Lisa Lerkenfeldt answers these questions with ease, transforming empty spaces into a sonic exploration of what ambient music can truly be.
Halos of Perception deals with the unknown. Made mostly underneath manhole covers with only a flashlight guiding the way, “Limestone” documents the first steps underground. The piano flows in and out, looping for a transformative eight minutes. The groaning of a synthesizer accompanies the piano in the background, growing and warbling until the two instruments are equals. The sounds ebbs, and silence overtakes the underground until “The painted room” begins.
The reality of being thirty feet underground is combined with analogue tapes, moving forward and then reversing at times. The clatter of a rock kicked across concrete swirls with running water, a lush paradise inside the barren walls Lerkenfeldt surrounds herself with. “Stairway to the interior” furthers the descent into the ground, pushing the limits of sound and space. Arpeggios swell and fade, a gust of wind echoing over melancholic keys.
“A fragrance of moss and chalk” is meant to engage every sense. Stumbling into a world that is more raw sound than music, Lerkenfeldt draws on the reverberation of enclosed space. Footsteps and ineligible whispers drift, the walls scrape, and water drips onto the worn ground. Making excellent use of field recordings in Melbourne’s old infrastructure, the environment builds off itself. Samples recorded by candlelight are mixed, chopped, and sampled once again throughout the songs.
The first sign of life is found in “Cobwebs”. Static crackles alongside a flickering synth. One can imagine the spiders that once crawled in the tunnels, the piano reminiscent of their legs on the walls. The final track, “Amulet of sweat”, is the last push forward. The humidity buzzes in the background, constant for the three minutes of the song. The journey upwards is mirrored in the music, brighter keys accompanying the ascent. The murmur of the tape stops, and the makeshift stages of the tunnel system return to undisturbed silence.
Halos of Perception evokes an incredibly thoughtful and complex story. Lerkenfeldt not only embodies the environment she works with in her music, but also makes it a part of the experience in listening. Halos of Perception goes beyond existing solely as an album and instead creates a space that allows for provoking themes of the world around us and under us.