Jun 152014

Breathing Through Wires, Pany Rosas Discos, 2015

Even as her utterances tumble through a web of delays and a mysterious, dislocating pitch modulation, she never loses the ability to react instantaneously to her surroundings; her demeanour tilts in response to micro-adjustments in mood or room temperature, with the echoes contracting and relaxing accordingly. The effects are as soft and breathable as she is – a moist, flexible extension of her body rather than a constrictive maze of electricity, twisting her image into something alien and animalistic while still, somehow, retaining a strong resemblance to the human form.
Because even without the pitch-shift to carry her voice down into goblin baritone, or the delays that subdivide her monkey caws into the rabid cries of an entire troop, Garrelfs’ gymnastic flexibility is remarkable. Her falsetto has this incredible pinball elasticity, zipping suddenly upward in playful excitement or sudden shock, reaching pitches that seem to shrink her into miniature.” ATTN:Magazine. Full review at http://www.attnmagazine.co.uk/music/8838

The first time I listened to Breathing Through Wires, I thought the stage was filled with people working in concert to produce this fluent sound. I was wrong. Using her own vocals , Garrelfs creates a phonic tapestry of loops upon layers to make a re-stylization of choral works.” See full review at http://www.actsofsilence.com/album-review/between-the-takes/

She presents the human voice, in all its terror and glory, doubled, amplified, processed and transformed in real-time, yet always retaining some ineffable, twisting humanity, like a work of art retaining its peculiar aura even through its mechanical transformation.” See full review at https://weneednoswords.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/iris-garrelfs-breathing-through-wires .

The audience adds an element of tension to her improvising. She utilizes the room and its acoustic, making it part of the sound structure she creates, by reacting to feedback she receives. In her music her ears are just as important as her voice.” Rene van Peer in Gonzo Circus (translated from Dutch)

Bedroom Symphonies, Linear Obsessional, 2014

You should also check out Garrelf’s Bedroom Symphonies on the netlabel Linear Obsessional. Somehow I missed this 2014 release, but I have been listening to it relentlessly for the past few weeks.” See full review at http://www.actsofsilence.com/album-review/between-the-takes/

We’re swallowed in layers of stony rumblings, with snatches of reversed, warped voices bursting out of the ether before being superseded by echoing, metallic thuds, disorienting bursts of noise and wiry electronic glitches. Rather than being on holiday, it feels as if we have been abducted by aliens, interrogated and then dumped in a basement. It’s a fascinating dislocation, even more so on successive listens as the two competing sets of associations seem to chafe against each other and offer up further interpretations. Garrelfs describes Bedroom Symphonies as a ‘private set of pieces, performances entirely without an audience’. Yet by muddling the links between memory, creativity and place, Garrelfs has created a beguiling and engrossing work.” See full review at https://weneednoswords.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/iris-garrelfs-bedroom-symphonies/

The material Iris Garrelfs works with consists of her voice and electronic sound. With that she moves in an area where composition and improvisation merge together. She sings, sighs, screams, breathes and speaks – the sound she produces are of a broad pallet, which she colors and dissembles and multiplies, assisted by software on her laptop. In concert she records her performance, stacks layers and lets it change the character. Thus chords are created, pulsing and grinding soundstreams, that flow like a river of sand through space. ” Rene van Peer in Gonzo Circus (translated from Dutch)

Brixton Lullaby (with Viv Corringham) on “For Syria”, Linear Obsessional, 2014

My own personal favourite is Iris Garrelfs’ and Viv Corringham’s out-there vocal duet, Brixton Lullaby, spooky and atmospheric and joyful all at the same time.” Paul Margree / full review can be found at at  http://weneednoswords.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/751

Traces in/of/with Sound installation at GV Art, November 2013

Equally, there is a synaesthesic bond between the clumped harmonies and phantom delays of Iris Garrelfs and the playful squiggles that curl and writhe across the black – an illusion of elasticity and motion where there is none, co-authored by sound and image. ATTN Magazine

Live Performance at Open Provocation Festival, spring 2013

“Iris Garrelfs does this arresting thing with her own voice, making strange non-verbal utterances like monkey noises. She loops the vocalisations … and builds up layers of sound on sound. Somehow this emerges as something enormously trancelike and relaxing (read more here).

Alien Nebular Rider (Simon Whetham, Meditations on Light remix), 2011

Whetham is fortunate to have such sensitive remixers in his line-up. It’s an impressive line-up, too, including Scanner (who mastered the original), Lawrence English, Richard Lainhart, Iris Garrelfs, Mise-en-scene, Christopher McFall, Philippe Petit and Yann Novak. … Others, Garrelfs in particular, obey a more eccentric lunar gravitational ebb and flow. http://igloomag.com

Truly bizarre tracks like Iris Garrelfs’ “Alien Nebula Rider” utterly forsake the comforting consonance of Whetham’s music, and inspire me to look for the artist’s other work http://www.musiquemachine.com

K on Playing with Words, Gruenrekorder

While wordy plays can be a sort of selective brain perception, sound poetry could eventually expands this to a more complete hearing experience and perspective, listening a bit more to sounds than to the ideas expressed with words…. Iris Garrelfs makes a harmonious vocal only multi-track home-recording using the letter “K” only, used as a lyrical sound. http://www.psychemusic.org/poetry.html

Live Performance August 2007

“Garrelfs is a skilled manipulator of live vocal loops, drawing on an array of voice textures to create attractively quirky soundscapes …some of the best music of the evening.” The Wire, August 2007

Talking Space To Space, Lichtung, 2007

 “Compositions of manipulated radio frequencies are not new but rarely have the depth and ambiance of this release. From a post Cagien perspective these tracks are much more than the sum of their parts and as compositions they are fluid and dynamic. As the opening track hurls clusters of grainy sound at the stereo image, your carried into the cosmos on a wave of particle interference and lo fi crackles & glitches. Cold meteor like sine waves emerge in dissonant collages of abstract soundscapes sometimes dark and brooding others with a more contemplative feel.”  Furthernoise, August 07

Specified Encounters. BipHop Records, 2005 [listen or buy it here]

 “It’s still startling to hear how far the human voice can extend when digitalised and dissected as has been by Iris Garrelfs on Specified Encounters. …layering her regular voice into harmonised choirs or pulverising it into granules of electroacustic babble and glitch, generating animated dialogues between innate human expressiveness and the overt artifice of digital processing. Widely varying precursors for this kind of work can be identified. An obvious antecedent is Joan La Barbara’s intense investigations in New York, since the mid-1970s, of electronic extensions of voice. More distantly there is the trail blazed by sound poets and in particular Henri Chopin, composing witty microparticles of vocal sound. More obliquely I was even reminded at times of Grateful Dead associate Ned Lagin’s integration of the voices of David Crosby, David Freiberg and Grace Slick into his early 1970s electronic composition, Seastones. … In practice she has a distinctively personal agenda on Specified Encounters, as she intriguingly mutates and projects vocal identities across an interface of technological possibility and imagination.” The Wire / July 2005

“Collecting seven tracks, all built around Garrelfs’s voice as sole source, Specified Encounters is a magnificent and haunting debut album. The concept of using the human voice as only sound source and incorporating it within an electronic context, if not new, remains in the best cases truly fascinating. On Specified Encounters, Garrelfs develops her live improvs to create an extremely varied and contrasted record. Extremely versatile in her approach, as she uses anything from raw recordings to extremely processed and textured elements, Garrelfs assembles subtle sonic pieces evoking various atmospheric settings. Left at least partially untitled, simply sequenced from Encounter 1-7, the tracks presented here denote very complex soundscapes, ranging from hypnotic loops to ha (Encounter 1, 3, 7), and more organic and abrasive surfaces (Encounter 2, 5, 6) with equal virtuosity, casting a constant shadow over her compositions yet remaining somehow in the background.
Despite the human intervention and the use of human sounds, the electronic make up of this record remains proudly exposed in the foreground. Yet, it is kept totally versatile and fresh by Garrelfs’s fluid touch. Garrelfs uses this context to develop a series of subtle compositions to perfection. Specified Encounters more than fulfils the promises of Garrelfs’s part work.” Milkfactory / Austria, album of the month, July 05

“Though Iris Garrelfs may be less well known than other artists in the Bip-Hop roster, she’s actually a Renaissance figure of sorts. A published photographer, creator of site-specific sound-based installations, and co-organizer of the London club Sprawl, Garrelfs now takes on voice-generated music-making in Specified Encounters’ seven tracks. It’s not a new concept, of course, with Björk’s Medulla the most recent and well-known foray but Garrelfs imposes her own distinctive stamp on the genre.
When wordless voices hauntingly swell into ululating choirs in “encounter 1,” the effect is reminiscent of Meredith Monk, especially when the vocals swoop. But by electronically manipulating and warping her voice in radical manner, Garrelfs’ boldly experimental approach goes further than Monk’s. In the second piece, for example, her voice becomes a veritable percussion orchestra performing an alien drone. Haunted voices and ominous splinters foster a mood of dread in the fourth setting, while the fifth plunges the listener into an industrial netherworld of clanks, rattles, and possessed garble. The album’s obvious centerpiece is the eighteen-minute “encounter 6.” In the first of five sections, Garrelfs layers a supplicating, hymn-like vocal line (that wouldn’t sound out of place on a John Tavener or Arvo Pärt recording) over a loud, looping base of echoing voices. A more restrained and meditative section follows, with the now-dominant, ruminative vocal gradually building in force and density. A central, wholly ‘instrumental’ episode of rippling static and aggressive bass noise is eventually joined by voices that initially merge with the instrumental sounds but then separate and morph into improvised babble. Despite its length, at no time does the piece feel too long or in need of pruning, a detail that helps make “encounter 6” the most remarkable composition on this distinctive album.” Textura / June 2005

“I have been waiting a long time for this solo project by the very talented IG. She seems to embody or enronic sonic manipulators like si-cut, Burnt Friedman, To Rococo Rot. She also creates site-specific installations, co-organises the Sprawl audio happenings in London, hosts a radio show on Resonance FM, DJs, and her photos have appeared in the Wire, the Face, and other glossies. This is definitely worth checking out because if you like the interface of the most heavenly junction of the human voice with the most tenuous aspects of electronica then this is essential.” wReck thiS meSS / Holland, June 2005

“Specified Encounters consists only of sounds made by Iris Garrelfs, but she goes another step forward by computer-processing her voice as far as she gets them. So some of the tracks on here contain shining, beautiful voices, others hacked up and distorted voice-bits like listening to someone having a fit while on LSD, to electronica noise like cuts and glitches, to noise. Taking the human voice the full round from song to record in a musicological sense. But obviously for her not the progression of music or the production of a compact conservation of her music is in the foreground, but the experience of exploring the sounds she is able to make, laying them over each other, multiplying and manipulating them into something new and bigger. The tracks on “specified encounters” are named “encounter 1”, “encounter 2”, “encounter 3”, and so on, marking special occasions or moments of unhindered workflow. They range from close to three minutes to an (for our modern times epic) 18 minutes. By the way, that really long tack has the angelic singing over looped vocals that span the bridge between Bingen and Björk in a single stride. 18 minutes are not really long for taking in about a century of music.I can already see all the reviews either praising “specified encounters” for sounding like Björk or as writing it off as being “esoteric”, and both obvious photographic work next to her wide occupations in music (from collaborations e.g. with Kaffe Matthews, Scanner, Freeform), and a little quicktime movie packed onto the CD tells a little about it. …. ” Cracked / Austria, May 2005

“Iris Garrelfs builds stretched, avantgarde ambient pieces from complex voice manipulations which move between the elve like MUM and electroacoutic HAFLER TRIO. Sometimes extremely melodic, sometimes hyper demanding. Her pieces exhaust themselves in nuancesm small changes which demand you spending time with them in order to be enjoyable, Otherwise the album will move past you without excitement. But his would be a missed opportunity because the sometimes hypnotic chances are fascinating. Bell like singing is mixed with dark ambient dryness and new-music strictness. Interesting”  Black / Germany 07.05.2005

“With Specified Encounters (both:Bip-hop/Westberlin/Tegel) Benford’s label colleague Iris Garrelfs delivers a purely voice based album like Bjork, which moves between Gregorian chants, Niobe’s excentricity and the deep blue transendence of Christain Fennesz’ s Venice and thus really is the most unique, stimulating, best Bip-Hop album to date.”  SPEX  /  Germany 05.05.2005

One of the major features of a label such as Bip_Hop is to offer the public a 360-degree view on the contemporary digital sound. In the case of the new Iris Garrelfs hard it deviates very strongly from the usual electronic production standard, opening new possible paths to follow. Treat her to a sound that has little or nothing to do with cybernetics, a sound characterized by predominantly processed voices that alternate in dark atmosphere and rather sparse but always emotional at the highest rate. A succession of visions and dark environments, female voices for melancholy and sometimes sinister chants, modulated and variously processed samples, in an atmosphere of abandonment limbo, will open the door to gloomy but picturesque scenery, unexpected for the genre. The remarkable sensitivity also for the buildings mainly generative, who put this young artist among the most innovative and promising for the near future. The video track is the icing on the cake. http://www.kathodik.it

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