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Dulin, Tucker / Ben Owen: Cat Guarding Geese (erstwhile)

An electroacoustic composition of environment & sound punctuated with subtle percussion and electronic interventions, developed from field recordings, performances on Roosevelt Island, and studio recordings in Brooklyn by the duo of Tucker Dulin on bells, bowl, can, cymbal, lentils, mallet & whistle and Ben Owen on paper mic, speaker boxes, op amps & cassette.

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Tucker Dulin-bells, bowl, can, cymbal, lentils, mallet, whistle

Ben Owen-paper mic, speaker boxes, op amps, cassette

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Label: erstwhile
Catalog ID: ErstAEU 008
Squidco Product Code: 30527

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded on Roosevelt Island, new York, in January, 2015, April, 2015, March, 2016, and in Brooklyn, New York, in February, 2015, by Billy Gomberg .

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"How easy it was when musical terms like "inside" and "outside" referred to running or avoiding changes! For more than two decades, Erstwhile has been in the business of fashioning environments, from the subtlest to the most overtly manipulated, but there's been nothing quite like this. The ErstAEU imprint's welcome return, from collaborators Tucker Dulin and Ben Owen, presents a subtle 67-minute negation, a quiet protest, not only concerning those frivolously narrow notions of what is internal and external but of the multilayered fabrics, often illusory, from which environments are constructed.

The album left me cold, and I mean this quite literally. As with many more recent Erstwhile releases, there's a large-scale formal element underlying the various sound vignettes expanding and contracting along the music's frozen trajectory. Listen on good speakers or headphones to be plunged, without the luxury of fade, into an icy perspective somehow both immediate and distant. The closest analogue might be Michael Pisaro's ever-fascinating "Transparent City" pieces, but their centers are proximate. They comprise infinite expanses, bolstered by sine tone complexes, which we hear from within. Dulin and Owen's traffic-laden continuo occupies a place of gentle but chilly support, and the first actor to take centerstage seems to be a thunderous wind, gusting at intervals and foregrounding itself against the midnight or afternoon of a city space in bustle captured but once removed. It all disappears at 42:38, returning again for the disc's final 10 minutes. Is it a porch view, or possibly a driveway perspective on the remote hurly-burly from the Turiya heights of a winter's layered somnolence? Are we outside or inside, or some combination? If in constant listener focus, that rush of traffic eventually takes on the electric swirl of white noise, though the illusion fades with a shake of the head. Beyond the whims of subjectivity, the underlying current comes off as the exact opposite of the Residents' Eskimo, a theatrical version of cold. Here, like Donovan's mountain, the cold simply is, isn't and then is.

Then, astride the frigidity, like the hallucinations that plague Schubert's winter's journey, there are the miniatures, those moments of allusion, disconnection and representation so vividly captured, skewed and reiterated. Dreamlike but not quite surreal, they begin infiltration 10 minutes in with something pitched, struck and resonant. Again, Pisaro's model looms large, but the mild percussives sidestep imitation to form a congruence, a momentarily superimposed reality. The process occurs and recurs at intervals, one including an astonishing takeoff that speaks to the disc's title, completely modifying perspective with one gesture of singular clarity. Courtesy of Owen's various technologies, electricity hums, grates and rushes, never abrasive but amplifying pitches inherent in the frozen surfaces below the shards and circulations of activity above. The eventual and gradually emergent rustling of something like a tree, or leaves, or the succinct susurration resemblant of windblown pods, begins to draw attention away from the background. Read the credits to see that Dulin brings diversities such as lentils, bowl and bells to the table, the latter piercing the veil at 23:36. Subsequent auditions reveal that even the distant rush and roar dips at times, curving and ever so gently changing profile. When the bottom falls out for the aforementioned quarter hour, the breathtaking fade of background support exposes a related but adjacent perceptual plane, the miniatures' embodiments supplanting the illusion of unity.

That moment is the disc's climax, its revelation. By 42:40, when the mechanized indicators of distant travel vanish, a near-absence prevails in which only environment, bristling faintly with minute scratch and faint hum, addresses anything approaching chronological time. That instant of disappearance and the ensuing element it would be incomplete to label silence signals the cessation of action that was never truly action at all. Then, each element, strategically placed on the soundstage, is illuminated by that underlying state of near-isolation where the outside used to be. The sounds that recur through the previous 40 minutes reassert a dry primacy, rustling, crackling, crystalizing and droning against the Turiya of ephemeral discovery. Like Wandelweiser contributions, this quarter hour centers around the stark pluralities of timbral counterpoint in the void.

The final segment, with its return to the external, throws into question the entire concept of environments and their origins. Again, they and their origination dates are credited but without the application specifics of, say, the Wovenland projects. The album's title, like the music, is half-elusive, one foot in the stark summations of combined reality, the other occupying a space just out of reach. In this sonically disparate multiverse, is it the cat that creeps, with the stealthy precision only they can muster, in that centrally frozen moment of almost silence?"-Marc Medwin, Dusted Magazine

Get additional information at Dusted Magazine

Artist Biographies

"Tucker Dulin is a trombonist, sound artist, and programmer finishing his dissertation on music and space for the doctorate from U.C., San Diego. He has performed at the Getty Museum, L.A., Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Santa Monica Museum of Art, was a guest of the NO IDEA (Austin/Houston), line space line (L.A.), and Darmstadt (Germany) festivals, and co-founded the Voltaire arts collective in Ocean Beach, San Diego. His current projects include a multimedia/dance duo blank with Amanda Waal, and web development for"

-Issue Project Room (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Ben Owen works with sound using various approaches including improvisation, recording, listening, and composition. His instruments are simple electronics - played, mixed, re-patched in their own trajectory of small sound, broken and accidental. Over the past few years he has been interested in presenting works, performing and recording in outdoor spaces. His focus is in the sustained, immersive, minimal soundscapes that interact within a defined space as well as an outside environment.

-Ben Owen 4/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Cat Guarding Geese 01:07:51

Related Categories of Interest:

Electroacoustic Composition
Organized Sound and Sample Based Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Improvised Music
Objects and Home-made Instruments
Duo Recordings
New in Experimental & Electronic Music
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