Them There Records presents the new album ‘Solarphones’ from Yorkshire based musician and sound artist Chris Ruffoni. These new recordings are taken from a touring installation project in which Chris explores positioning his bespoke, handbuilt wooden sculptures named Solarphones amidst various outdoor spaces to interact with the sunlight, shadow and the architecture of the setting.
Solarphones are solar powered instruments devised by Chris and John Robertson-Dwyer at Vortex Studios, Huddersfield. Small solar panels power a chaotic mechanical system contained within bespoke wooden enclosures, each containing 7 tuneable guitar strings. The system produces a random sequence of notes, dictated by the amount of sunlight. Designed to connect directly with the environment in the present moment - there is no capacity to store energy and no batteries are used - they only sound when there is sufficient light.
Presented on this release as two 22 minute field recordings, chosen as highlights from numerous installations in woodland and reservoirs around West Yorkshire between April and May 2020. The instruments are tuned in modes using just intonation, each side of the tape reflects one mode.
These early recordings of this nascent project, spirited and inviting can be enjoyed as a passive listening experience in which the organic, aleatoric mechanisms take on their own life, blurring into a golden ambience as if transmitted directly by the sun. Those familiar with our previous collaboration with Chris Ruffoni (’The Slope Of Our Directions’ 2018) will recognise the now trademark hypnotic subtleties and curious uncertainty once again achieved in these recordings. Alternatively, an active listener could tune in to the ambient sounds of passerby and bleating sheep that only serve to elevate the experience.
FFO - Charlemagne Palestine - Strumming Music, La Monte Young - The Well Tuned Piano, Terry Riley - Shri Camel, William Basinksi - Cascade, Ellen Arkbro - CHORDS
Throughout Summer 2020 ‘Solarphones’ has been invited to be installed at several (unfortunately postponed) UK festivals
including Supernormal and Bluedot Festival.
released August 28, 2020
Instrument design - Chris Ruffoni
Build - Chris Ruffoni and John Robertson-Dwyer at Vortex Studios, Huddersfield
Labels like Posh Isolation, Janushoved and No Rent Records ought to keep an eye for emerging experimental talent from Africa. There is some seriously imaginative and unfamiliar sounds on offer in this. From track fourteen onwards it starts entering into all kinds of decrepitly strange Throbbing Gristle-esque territory too. Well worth your groats! Ben Harris
There’s so much to enjoy with this album. I hear experimentation and melodic repetition with a jazz infusion and evocative lyrics. A great step forward and a treat for my ears, right up to the final fade, leaving you to carry on in your head keef chemistry
That track has everything and anything in it. A pheasant's father, a watering can, unfinished alphabets from ancient civilisations, the two of spades, the morning dew, and Hell on earth. Antoine Mouquod