TO:71 - Robert Hampson "Vectors"

Touch # TO:71
CD in Digipak - 3 tracks

Artwork & design by Jon Wozencroft

Track Listing:
1. Umbra
2. Ahead – Only The Stars
3. Dans le Lointain

Umbra (2006) - is the second commission for GRM. This 16 channel piece had it’s debut performance on the Acousmonium - GRM’s speaker orchestra - at Salle Olivier Messiaen, Maison de Radio France, Paris “The umbra (Latin: shadow) is the darkest part of a shadow. From within the umbra, the source of light is completely concealed by the occulting body. In astronomy, an observer in the umbra is said to be in the shadows experiencing total eclipse.” This phenomenon is a direct influence on the work in the sense of the way that sounds are cast in the shadow of others, slowly becoming more distinct and featured as the piece progresses, materialising and then casting a shadow of their own.

Ahead – Only The Stars (2007) - commissioned by Vibrö for a performance at the Planetarium de Poitiers in 7.1 Surround ratio. Inspired and dedicated to the Astronauts of the NASA Mercury Missions space program and possibly the greatest pilot ever, Chuck Yeager. After the introduction of jets blasting across the soundstage, the piece is then interspersed with radio transmissions (Com. bleeps and static, with dialogue removed) that form the framework.

Dans le Lointain (2008) - the third commission for GRM. A 2 channel Stereo piece, it’s debut performance on the Acousmonium - GRM’s speaker orchestra - at Salle Olivier Messiaen, Maison de Radio France, Paris. Sounds of Shortwave radios, recorded by Hampson in the very early 80’s and recently rediscovered on a cassette, are manipulated through very traditional techniques utilised by early tape experimental works of the GRM and collected with more modern forms of digital manipulation. The title (In The Distance) refers to the distance radio signals can travel, but also the distance of time that elapsed since the shortwave recordings were made on a four track recorder and dubbed onto cassette by Hampson around 1981/82.

Buy Vectors in the TouchShop


Robert Hampson (UK b.1965) is the founding member of the bands Loop (1985-90) and Main (1990-6)

After the demise of Loop, Hampson formed Main with fellow guitarist Scott Dowson, who had become a member of Loop around the time of their final album – A Gilded Eternity.

The intrinsic soundscapes of Main began with taking the iconic status of the guitar and then trying to reconstruct it, stripping away at the normal methods of it’s sound reproduction or style of playing. Others such as Keith Rowe (AMM) had done this before, and Main followed their cues, but they mixed this with improvised, abstract and concrete sounds using close mic and contact microphones techniques, all grown and curated onto analogue tapes without the use of the more recognisable digital glitch cultures of Max MSP plug-ins that are often heard today in guitar deconstructions. These created dense textural slow moving eddies that could also rapidly switch direction in an edit with the blink of an eye. The more Main progressed, the more the guitar dissolved, eventually becoming mere skeletal frames to hang more composed forms around by the time. Dowson decided to leave in 1996.

What had always seemed to be the background in the sound, became the foreground, and Hampson continued to leave the guitars in their cases and concentrate more on the practice of Acousmatic music. Hampson then abandoned the alias of Main, namely because of listeners’ stubborn refusal to understand that the guitar was well and truly forgotten and had no place in his music anymore. Even now, the ugly spectre of the instrument’s status still is the most talked about, even though it has not featured on anything Hampson has done for almost 10 years.
He now composes and performs under his own name.

The music on his debut recording for Touch features 2 channel stereo versions of three Acousmatic compositions that have been commissioned – two by Le Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) and one by the audio arts label Vibrö, both based in Paris, where Robert now lives.

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