8 Track, LP (2008, hellosQuare)
Related: Tom Hall.
It’s hard to imagine sounds getting much tinier than they are on Tom Hall’s Cross. This Brisbane-based artist collects and miniaturises field recordings from a variety of sources and locales – Cairns, Brisbane, Tasmania, his grandfather’s wind-up watch – and then meticulously crafts them into delicate, diaphanous sound sculptures. Cross’s eight tracks are not so much songs as the echoes of songs – sparse, fragmentary compositions that hint at melody and structure but are altogether too fragile and airy to maintain any sort of tangibility.
'Towards Surfaces' marries distant clatter and scrape with cascading piano before the whole thing is subsumed by a humming, oceanic throb. And then it too is gone, leaving a mess of scattered sound shards in its wake. 'Gone Bye' is about as close to menacing as Cross gets, all haunted whirs and distant drones, while Leaving Intricate hints at the work of Colleen with the sound of what may or may not be a toy piano being carried away on a sea of intricately processed buzzes and clicks.
The delicacy of Cross should not, however, be mistaken for insubstantiality. Hall wields understatement as a powerful weapon; his tendency to shy away from grandiosity leaving room for his infinitely more intimate (and therefore satisfying) version of beauty.
by Adam D Mills