An untuned lyre. A mother speaking in soft Northern Thai dialect. The pulse of a Moog Subharmonicon. A gush of a waterfall, enjoyed with friends. A snatch of mundane conversation with a lover; a session with a psychotherapist. On Liew Niyomkarn’s new album, released on Chinabot, the Thai sound artist builds a soft, dreamlike replica of the world around her with field recordings and found object samples, and invites us to slip into her subjective experience.
The album, titled I Think of Another Time When You Heard It, is “a reconstruction of memories in my childhood home, a place I grew up in, and conversations I had with people I met during the time I made this album,” says Niyomkarn. “I extensively use field recording in my work because I want to be able to remember it.”
Field recordings map memories onto memories as she jumps between time and place;
from pulsating synth experimentalism to delicate folk sounds. The textural electronics of the dreamscape collage are “intertwined with an unabashedly long attack and decay, and amorphous sound of untuned lyre and prepared guitar into one spiral segue,” she says.
The result is a diaristic, ambient soundscape, with a light, spacious musicality, a reflection of her extensive work in sound installation and film soundtracks. At times recalling the work of Claire Rousay, Felicia Atkinson, Ana Roxane and Marja Ahti, her juxtaposition of vocals, electronic and acoustic elements, as well as some Southeast Asian tuning systems, gives her work a granular singularity.
Recorded between her native Thailand and current home in Antwerp, I Think of Another Time When You Heard It sometimes has a jetlagged, homesick quality, rich with complex emotions. Cross over between begins with a sunrise recording at a farm in Northern Thailand. The woozy synths of her electroacoustic composition bleed into the sound of birds and crickets, capturing a moment of isolation and peace before an intense day ahead.
Sometimes the disorientation is more literal – the track Ear crystals reflects on her diagnosis of vertigo, sampling a manoeuvrer experience with her physiotherapist. The tender spoken-word track You and me in original time was written as Niyomkarn discovered her family dog, Coconut, was very sick just as she had to leave him to return to Belgium. These small, personal moments become universal in Niyomkarn’s hands; she transforms the detritus of everyday life into quiet moments of beauty, reminding us to practice the same inquisitive attention to our own lives.
About the artist
Liew Niyomkarn is a Thai sound artist and musician based in Antwerp. Her work focuses on listening practice and the conveyance of memories through sound. She uses field recordings to detect time, (non)-human voices, everyday routines, text, archival sounds, and different tuning systems in nature -- to combine them with a sonic palette and the properties of sound itself such as sounds of spaces -- she presents her work in the form of live performance and sound installation.
released June 28, 2022
Artist: Liew Niyomkarn
Album: I Think of Another Time When You Heard It
Format: Digital / Tape
Master: Justin Randel
Artwork: Saphy Vong
Release Date: 28 June 2022
supported by 14 fans who also own “I Think of Another Time When You Heard It”
It was a bit too much and samey by the end for me, but if you like dark atmospheres, if you are really interested in sound design or you enjoy the challenge of music that tries to wear you down, you should definitely check this record out.
I loved the echo-drenched drums and percussion and synths and hard to describe sounds on this, but it stays with the same sonic ideas for too long for me to enjoy to try to withstand the harsh wall of sounds minisculebarber