Pétra is a collaboration between dancer, musician and former NYC gallery owner Chantal Chadwick and LA electronic musician Brian Allen Simon, better known by his alias Anenon. The vast majority of Aunis was created on the Greek island of Nisyros after Chadwick and Simon were invited to participate in an artist residency, its thirteen beatific moments acting as a response to the unspolit rocky environs they found themselves among juxtaposed with the curious built environment photography of Daniel Boudinet.
The album operates at a significant distance from Simon’s long-standing Anenon project. While both Petrol (2016) and Tongue (2018) – like Aunis – found Simon creating musical responses to a specific place (LA and Tuscany respectively), both of those albums found Simon complementing field recordings with expressive soprano sax and a consummate modern classical compositional dexterity. Placed in Nisyros with Chadwick, the music they have created together is structured principally around a more pronounced electronic palette of sounds, each piece taking the form of a soundscape evoking, in some way, the landscape of the island. Simon’s saxophone appears briefly on the meditative ‘Aire’ and as the coda on ‘Tavel’, but for the most part his horn rarely comes out of its case.
Like Boudinet’s pictures, these pieces are presented with a directness and a flat, almost emotionless observational quality. A piece like ‘Lave’ has an inner warmth, its soft pads, bassy undercurrent and occasional flutters of synth arpeggios as gently evocative as a Boudinet Polaroid of the sun rising over a crumbling Parisian palace balustrade. Other tracks feature the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, creating a serenity and mournfulness thanks to the unresolved textures that surround the field recording, while pieces like ‘Tavel’ or ‘Hydra’ are more consciously melodic, their chiming synths carrying a roughened, imperfect quality bordered by atmospheric white noise.
On these pieces, it is as if Chadwick and Simon are drawing attention to the essential chaos and unpredictability that characterises all of nature, despite our best endeavours to apply a sense of order to that which we cannot control. That their collaboration can be so expressly in tune with nature while never once sounding like ambient new age meandering is a wonder to behold.
Aunis by Pétra was released September 20 2019 by Injazero.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further