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.


Reviews

bleep.com (UK):

One of the most prestigious names on the electronic/alternative underground, Robert Hampson has garnered credits from his work with shoegazers Loop then dark ambient overlords Main. Here with a serious and achingly wondrous solo project, Vectors is that rare creature when conceptual academic sound art actually becomes very listenable. Crackling shortwave static breathes and murmurs, spatial bleeps ping pong, and deeply textured drones resonate on and on and on and on...

Norman Records (UK):

I was never really exposed to Loop in the 80' sand early 90's but I did get into Main later on. Both these acts featured Robert Hampson and now he has a solo album out on the ever interesting and boundary pushing Touch label. 'Vectors' is really quite a provoking listen. 'Umbra' consists of 3 fairly lengthy tracks which are not easy to describe. The synthetic sounds are fairly obvious computer/ synth noises but what puzzles me are the "other sounds" which I simply cannot identify. For example I imagine a balloon being stretched and scrapped and fiddled with and then processed with effects but it's just not a sound I've heard before or can accurately place. Truly acousmatic stuff that just fits in really snugly with the clicks and hisses that surround it. There's some clever use of stereo on here too that really bring these colourful compositions to life. I'm floating in an artificial reality in a world that feels truly binary but I am occasionally given glimpses of the real world through occasional peeps of sound that somehow feel organic. It's kind of like being shrunk to the size of an atom and absorbing the sounds that would possibly occur in that space where you're hanging out with protons and neutrons. It's a place I enjoy and you cannot help but marvel at the imagination that's gone into this work. It pulls together elements of drone, ambient and musique concrète but cannot accurately be described as being either. 'Ahead Only The Stars' begins with some awesome jet/ rocket sounds shooting across both channels and reminds me of the magic when my dad first played me stereo recordings as a child. Then we get some adventures in crystal clear microscopic sound-worlds and digital synthesis that recall the detail and precision of artists like Carsten Nicolai and Coil with the surrealism of Nurse With Wound. Jon Wozencroft has captured the spirit of the sound wonderfully with the mathematical image that adorns the digipak's front panel. By the time we arrive at 'Danse Le Lointain' we're into minimal bleep/ drone/ metallic/ hum/ creepy/ crackle/ pulse/ wave/ crunch/ liquid zone and (I think) field recording/ found sound mode as my sense of "real" and synthetic sound is really put to the test. There are some frequencies on this one that really mess with my head as they disorientate me somewhat.

A rich and diverse palate of sounds are used and the track is kind of broken up into little stages and you really cannot anticipate where you're going next. This is the first solo work I've heard from Robert Hampson but it seems a logical progression for the artist whose sounds have become increasingly alien over the years. Great stuff that gets a thumbs up from me for sure.

Aquarius (USA):

Back in the early '90s, Robert Hampson made a very conscious transition in how he made music, willfully deconstructing the hypnotic psychedelia he pioneered in his defunct, but still awesome band Loop (whose last two records have just been reissued and are 2 of this week's Records Of The Week!). Initially, these deconstructed songs recorded under the new guise of Main spatialized texturally looped guitars, tricked out electronic effects, and heavy-lidded drones against an architecture of Spartan drums and downtuned bass lines. The first two albums - Hydra-Calm and Motion Pool - offered a competing strategy for what might be defined as 'post-rock,' nestling with the contemporary sounds in Disco Inferno, Seefeel, and the last Slowdive record as a confluence of avant-garde electronics, dark shoegazing ephemera, and British post-punk experimentation. There were hints of Loop's cyclical song-structure flickering within Main's barren albums, and Hampson seemed inclined to make a slow retreat from those rhythmic structures, leaving behind swarms of amorphous tones and vast expanses, razor cut into an homage to the musique concrete masters. Even though Hampson ended the Main project back in 2006, the same strategies are at work in Robert Hampson's "solo" venture. On Vectors, Hampson teases with repetitions of astronaut bleeps, electrical warblings, digitally vaporous static, and wisps of sound design that could build into something off of Hydra-Calm or Motion Pool, but don't. Many folks (including some here) have been frustrated by Hampson's work after Motion Pool, and that sentiment probably won't be changed with Vectors. The three lengthy pieces on Vectors are all commissions with lofty goals of avant electronics; and two of the commissions came by way of the legendary GRM studio in France. In this context as opposed to the Loop / Main axis, Vectors turns out to be a smoldering musique concrete album with acousmatic allusions to the work of Michel Chion and Luc Ferrari.

Delusions of Adequacy (USA):

Robert Hampson was the singer/guitarist for droning space-rockers Loop and a member of dark ambient duo Main. While I was and still am a huge fan of Loop’s work (you definitely want to check out albums like A Gilded Eternity and the recently reissued Fade Out and Heaven’s End if you’re a fan of Spacemen 3 and CAN) I am not all that familiar with his work in Main. I’ve heard enough to know that if you need a reference point that some of it kind of sounds like Fennesz and some of it sounds more like Deathprod. Familiarity with Main’s work would help in deciphering Vectors, his latest album for Touch. Hampson shows a side of himself that is both strategic and adept at electro-acoustic composition. The album is a beautiful piece of work that will require more than a little bit of patience and effort to enjoy but is worth it for the overall reward.

The album is comprised of three distinct movements: “Umbra,” “Ahead - Only The Stars,” and “Dans Le Lointain” all recorded a year apart from one another. Each track stretches easily past the ten minute mark in order to achieve stasis. Sounds that may be the creaking of floorboards and humming of machines mix readily with guitar and keyboard drones. It has a starlit incandescence that renders it perfect for late night absorption and works incredibly well on headphones, where the listener can discern the detail of every note and ponder the source material for themselves. In short it’s an EAI enthusiasts’ wet dream.

Speaking critically though, at times the pieces take a little too long to get where they’re going. On top of that it would be a hard sell to someone not already enamored of Hampson’s work or the particular style within which Vectors falls. Regardless, it’s a fantastic release for those who’ve already dipped their toes in the water with albums such as Jim O’Rourke’s I’m Happy and I’m Singing or Phil Niblock’s G2 44 +/X 2. With the aforementioned Loop albums finally getting proper reissues with Peel Sessions and bonus tracks, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with Hampson’s unforgiving riffage and see how he’s developed his craft.

The Wire (UK):

Brainwashed (US):

While he first made a name for himself with the balls-out psych-rock of Loop, Robert Hampson always had an inclination towards the esoteric and avant garde. The slide away from rock into musique concrèt for him is pretty obvious to anyone familiar with his Main project, which began as a krautrock-inspired industrial band and ended with the pure sonic abstraction that has segued into this new solo work. Rather than working with guitar (as Loop and Main were based upon), these works, two of which were commissioned by GRM, instead allow for a wider sonic palate to be used, and the results are captivating.

"Umbra" originates from a 16 track piece from 2006, and is not a drastic departure in sound for any who followed Hampson’s trek as Main; it retains his fondness for vast soundscapes of alien insectoid chattering, here met with a low frequency bass rumble and occasional fragments of pure tones. While it stays consistent with mood and feel, the dynamics of the track change frequently; once a set of textures have been allowed to develop, they’ll be abruptly cut-off and then replaced with a new set to rebuild from scratch. The source of the sounds is anything but clear, but found sound percussion, objects and metal objects vibrating, and the occasional loud crash or sharp crack are recurrent motifs throughout.

Hampson’s work here is both figuratively and literally linked to astronomy, which has been one of his passions since the early days in Main (I know as a teenager listening to those releases, I had to do some searching to figure out what those track titles were all about). Rather than merely conjuring images of the universe by the titles, the tracks on Vectors actually use this as a source of the sound. The middle piece, "Ahead-Only the Stars," is dedicated to the astronauts of the Mercury space program, as well as pilot Chuck Yeager. The opening clearly showcases the flight of jets across the sky, which later becomes the underlying sonic element buried under layers of effects and processing, becoming a looped, almost rhythmic passage of noise. On top of this are bits of static and radio transmission beeps, all with any actual voices removed. The departure of the human element from this technology gives a much different sensation than if it had been left in, and the fragments around the communications make for interesting sounds all their own.

The final piece, "Dans Le Lointain," takes the space concepts in a different direction, and is constructed from cassettes recorded of shortwave radio transmissions from the early 1980s. These tapes were then treated with traditional tape manipulation, as well as digital effects, and the result is a sprawling, 20 minute track of high pitched chimes and static loops. The mix as a whole emphasizes the treble and melds metallic rattles and percussive shaking with found noises and static loops, with the occasional soft melodic pulse, giving some sense of traditional "music" within the space. The closing textural static is some of the best I’ve heard on record, with a crunch that is almost tactile.

This first "true" solo album by Robert Hampson does not really stray far from what anyone would expect who is familiar with the later works of Main, but does show Hampson pushing his sonic vehicle even farther into the dark regions of space. The combination of early tape music, modern digital experimentation, and even a subtle smattering of his "rock" background makes for a sonic excursion that is among the most engaging works of electro-acoustic music I have heard this year. [Creaig Dunton]

Boomkat (UK):

Perhaps best known for his work as Main (with releases across esteemed labels like Sub Rosa, Fat Cat, (K-RAA-K)³ and Tigerbeat6), Robert Hampson arrives at Touch with three longform acousmatic compositions, two of which were commissioned by the prestigious and historic GRM (Groupe De Recherches Musicales), whose studio Hampson used for the mixing and mastering processes. So many of electronic music's earliest, most important works were devised and constructed at this venue, with artists like Pierre Schaefer, Bernard Parmagianni, Luc Ferrari and Iannis Xenakis all having played their part in the GRM's rich heritage. The tone and range of Hampson's music is very much in acknowledgement of these founding fathers of musique concrète, revelling in the sheer joy of sound as it's methodically and beautifully pulled apart and reassembled. Taking as his starting point a mixture of incredibly rich, tuned sonorities and more tactile, texture-based timbres, Hampson's music sounds and feels more like a biopsy of sound than a treatment of it: it's this approach that places his work in the same sort of lineage as his GRM forebears, seemingly never adding any external synthetic elements or instrumentation, instead navigating and revealing the inner workings of his sound recordings using a delicate electronic scalpel. 'Umbra' is an especially remarkable thing, packing vast amounts of auditory information into its seventeen minutes, working its way through a continuous flow of complex dissections. The end result is an immaculately well-produced virtual voyage for the ears. The next composition, 'Ahead - Only The Stars' was commissioned by Vibrö for a 7.1 Surround performance at the Planetarium de Poitiers. Inspired by Chuck Yeager and the astronauts of NASA's Mercury Missions the piece introduces itself with the sound of jet engines, going on to embrace a wordless trickle of radio transmissions, shattered into isolated bleeps, a rainbow of static and various other sounds tweezed from the stratosphere. It's another great piece of work, beautifully conveying a sense of emptiness, while skillfully intermingling unearthly noises with telecommunicaitons by-products - you get a real sense of encroaching on the frontiers of sound. Finally, 'Dans Le Lointain' finds Hampson returning to GRM for a rediscovery of his early '80s shortwave recordings, all manipulated within the traditional spirit of early tape music birthed within the hallowed halls of the Maison De Radio France. This is an album that sets itself apart from a great many contemporary electroacoustic albums both in terms of its sublime audio quality and its rigorous and loving adherence to the more academic strands of electronic music pioneered in the 20th century....

Norman Records (UK):

I was never really exposed to Loop in the 80' sand early 90's but I did get into Main later on. Both these acts featured Robert Hampson and now he has a solo album out on the ever interesting and boundary pushing Touch label. 'Vectors' is really quite a provoking listen. 'Umbra' consists of 3 fairly lengthy tracks which are not easy to describe. The synthetic sounds are fairly obvious computer/ synth noises but what puzzles me are the "other sounds" which I simply cannot identify. For example I imagine a balloon being stretched and scrapped and fiddled with and then processed with effects but it's just not a sound I've heard before or can accurately place. Truly acousmatic stuff that just fits in really snugly with the clicks and hisses that surround it. There's some clever use of stereo on here too that really bring these colourful compositions to life. I'm floating in an artificial reality in a world that feels truly binary but I am occasionally given glimpses of the real world through occasional peeps of sound that somehow feel organic. It's kind of like being shrunk to the size of an atom and absorbing the sounds that would possibly occur in that space where you're hanging out with protons and neutrons. It's a place I enjoy and you cannot help but marvel at the imagination that's gone into this work. It pulls together elements of drone, ambient and musique concrète but cannot accurately be described as being either. 'Ahead Only The Stars' begins with some awesome jet/ rocket sounds shooting across both channels and reminds me of the magic when my dad first played me stereo recordings as a child. Then we get some adventures in crystal clear microscopic sound-worlds and digital synthesis that recall the detail and precision of artists like Carsten Nicolai and Coil with the surrealism of Nurse With Wound. Jon Wozencroft has captured the spirit of the sound wonderfully with the mathematical image that adorns the digipak's front panel. By the time we arrive at 'Danse Le Lointain' we're into minimal bleep/ drone/ metallic/ hum/ creepy/ crackle/ pulse/ wave/ crunch/ liquid zone and (I think) field recording/ found sound mode as my sense of "real" and synthetic sound is really put to the test. There are some frequencies on this one that really mess with my head as they disorientate me somewhat. A rich and diverse palate of sounds are used and the track is kind of broken up into little stages and you really cannot anticipate where you're going next. This is the first solo work I've heard from Robert Hampson but it seems a logical progression for the artist whose sounds have become increasingly alien over the years. Great stuff that gets a thumbs up from me for sure.

Allmusic.com (USA):

Better known as a member of Loop, Main , and Godflesh, Robert Hampson here reveals himself as a composer of tape music. Vectors, his first release for the English experimental ambient label Touch, consists of three long electro-acoustic pieces, two of which have been commissioned by the famous electronic music laboratory Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) and premiered on their "Acousmonium" (a multi-channel sound spatialization device), while the other was commissioned by Vibrö for a performance inside a planetarium. Take all these elements into account -- the commissioners, the contexts of the premieres, the title of the album -- and you will grasp that this music is about space and movement within space, all the music consisting of sparse, near-silent sound fields populated by fleeting sonic bodies. The best of the three works is "Umbra," a dark and shimmering piece in which isolated sounds play hide and seek. "Ahead -- Only the Stars" features bleeps of astronaut radio transmissions (dialogues excised), which gives the music a retro-futuristic feel, but some artistic choices, like abrupt cuts and odd non sequiturs, are debatable and mar the listening experience. "Dans le Lointain" (In the Distance), despite using the "traditional" techniques of early tape music, is the track sounding the most contemporary, or at least the closest to the digital ambient electronica scene. It is a fine piece of work, reminiscent of Biosphere's starker works, but in terms of beauty and refined aesthetics, "Umbra" is the track that stands out.

VITAL (Netherlands):

A long time I met Robert Hampson and talked with him about the movie '24 Hour Party People'. What I didn't knew is that Hampson and his band Loop toured with the Happy Mondays, so he shed some extra light on those scenes involving the Mondays. I was thinking of the curious career of Hampson when listening to 'Vectors'. The rock days of Loop merging into the ambience of Main to the electro acoustic of Hampson, who no longer uses the name Main anymore. I liked Loop, I truly loved Main and sometimes I found myself thinking 'what is Robert Hampson doing these days?'. Its been some years since his last Main release, but apparently his into France these days. All three pieces here were recorded for things in France, festivals, commissions of INA GRM. Indeed a curious career. Robert Hampson - serious composer. Who would have guessed? One could see it coming I guess, as the last Main releases forecasted the music on 'Vectors': computer manipulated electro-acoustic music, brought to you in the form of an audio collage. If you need to compare it with something, then the whole microsound posse comes to mind, but Roel Meelkop in particular. Hampson shares the same sensibility of creating intense audio compositions, with slow curves, occasional rapid change and a keen ear for atmospherics. Crackling, ambient, computer treatments of acoustic objects. Well crafted compositions, that never seem to leap into the doodling that some of the 'real' (what is real anyway?) acousmatic composers in this scene seem to be doing. Challenging music of the highest order. Its only a pity that there is not so much of that from Hampson. Let's hope the next one is not three years away. [FdW]

kindamusic (Netherlands):

Robert Hampson was in een vorig leven bandlid van Loop en Main, en voegde zich ook een tijdje bij de rangen van het industrialcombo Godflesh. Nadien hing Hampson zijn gitaar aan de haak om andere muzikale wegen te verkennen. Daarvan is Vectors, na onder meer een samenwerking met Jim O'Rourke, de meest recente demonstratie.

Vectors is een typisch product van het Britse label Touch dat zich in de regel richt op experimenten die de grenzen van geluid aftasten en daar ook vaak een bepaald concept aan verbinden. Met zijn drie episodes doet dit album dat ook. Opener 'Umbra' verbindt op een organische manier verschillende muzikale structuren. Hampson beschouwt de umbra als de schaduw waarin nieuwe geluiden zich ontwikkelen die vervolgens uit de duisternis komen en zich zichtbaar maken.

'Ahead - Only the Stars' draagt Hampson op aan de astronauten van de NASA Mercury Missions, hiervan zijn de vliegtuiggeluiden en flarden van radiouitzendingen getuige. Aan het laatste stuk ligt eveneens een inhoudelijk uitgangspunt ten grondslag. Hampson herwerkt oude cassettes en gebruikt de resultaten in de creatie 'Dans le Lointain', duidend op de afstand die radiosignalen door de tijd heen afgelegd hebben.
Ook al is het uitgangspunt interessant, het conceptuele overweegt op de auditieve originaliteit van het eindresultaat. Maar dit is natuurlijk wel vaker het geval met dergelijke experimenten. [Hans van der Linden]

Musicreaction (France):

A la manière de Christian Fennesz, l'Anglais Robert Hampson, guitariste de formation rock c'est lancé dans la production électronique au milieu des années 1990 suite à la mise en sommeil de son projet "heavy psychedelic", Loop. Sous le nom de Main, il produit de nombreux albums indispensables utilisant toujours son instrument de prédilection, même s'il emmène celui-ci dans des territoires jusqu'alors inexplorés. Hypnotique, magnétique, électrique, souvent aride et pourtant organique à sa curieuse manière, la musique de Main voit progressivement Robert Hampson abandonner la guitare pour élaborer une pure "computer music". Le temps d'une poignée de disques exploratoires, il s'essaie donc de plus en plus à la composition sur logiciels.

C'est dans cette optique abstraite qu'il faut aborder Vectors, un disque compilant trois pièces importantes que le compositeur dédie à Hector Zazou et dont deux furent initialement interprétées live sur l'acousmonium du GRM salle Olivier Messiaen à la Maison de Radio France. Jouée au festival Présences Electroniques, Umbra (2006) est la deuxième commande de l'INA-GRM à l'Anglais, Dans le lointain (2006 également) la troisième, tandis que Ahead - Only The Stars (un hommage aux astronautes de la mission Mercury) fut commissionnée par le collectif Vibrö afin d'illustrer une performance au Planétarium de Poitiers en 7.1 surround audio. Derrière l'ascétisme et l'abstraction affichés sur ce nouvel album, le projet au long cours de d'Hampson apparaît en filigrane : créer une musique électroacoustique environnementale quels que soient les outils de composition utilisés, au sein de laquelle prolifèrent un rhizome de textures, un ensemble multiforme de sons évoquant des fréquences radio venus d'outre-espace ou les stridulations d'insectes inconnus. Toujours aussi fascinant. [Maxence]

Dark Entries (Belgium):

Deze CD bevat slechts drie tracks, maar gezien hun lengte en verscheidenheid zijn ze zeker de moeite waard. Voorwaarde is wel dat u bezeten ben door geluid en klanklandschappen, dus er de meoite en tijd voor neemt om de rit volledig uit te zitten. Trots verwijzen naar de schijfjes Raison D'Être of Hybryds die u in huis heeft helpt niet. Dat is muzak of verkrachting vergeleken met de subtiliteit waarmee Hampson (of eender wie uit de Touch catalogus) met geluid omgaat.

Zo laat hij in het eerste werk 'Umbra' gedurende langer dan een kwartier geluiden langzaam in elkaar overvloeien en van elkaar overnemen tot het ene geluid nog slechts een schaduw (umbra) is van zichzelf, afgetekend tegenover de scherpte van elk nieuw geluid.

'Ahead - Only The Stars' is dan weer een geluidshommage aan testpiloot Chuck Yeager, die in 1947 in zijn Bell X-1 als eerste -horizontaal- doorde geluidsmuur ging. En 'muzikale' opening door een straaljagermotor gevolgd door een collage van cockpitgeluiden en radiogeluiden. Niet boeiend? Eerst luisteren, dan beoordelen.

Het beste stuk, 'Dans le Lointain', komt op het einde. Het bestaat uit een geluidsconcert dat de man vorig jaar gaf te Parijs en waarvoor hij zich baseerde op oude opnames van kortegolfradio's die hij live manipuleerde op door ze af te spelen en te mixen op een 2 kanalen stereodeck. Minimalisme met een grote M, en niet alleen omdat het vooraan in de zin staat.

Voor wie wilt weten waar o.a. Peter Christopherson en Steven Stapleton van zouden beginnen kwijlen.

Rumore (Italy):

Bad Alchemy (Germany):

Sonic Seducer (Germany):

de:bug (Germany):

Blow Up (Italy):

D-Side (France):

Le son du Grisli (France):

Vectors est une compilation qui rassemble trois commandes passées au musicien anglais Robert Hampson par le Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) et le festival Vibrö entre 2006 et 2008.

Dans l'ordre chronologique de leur création, les compositions se succèdent et donnent naissances à trois sortes d'art sonore : musique de gamelan à l'intérieur de laquelle des effets de masse jouent des coudes avec des parasites électroniques (Umbra) ; drones et boucles triturées aux sources d'un numérique que l'auditeur peut s'amuser à inspecter dans le détail (Ahead) ; et pour finir, collage difforme remodelé par un larsen chirurgical (Dans le lointain).

Sous prétexte d'éclairer son rapport à l'univers, Robert Hampson fabriqua donc trois pièces d'envergure - deux et demie, plutôt, si l'on prend en compte les longueurs d'Ahead - qui font figures de tout sauf de travaux de commande.

Rockerilla (Italy):

RNE3 (Spain):

Robert Hampson, uno de los mejores exploradores sonoros actuales y ex líder de Loop y Main acaba de entregar este verano "Vectors" un E.p que incluye tres piezas.
Comenzamos hoy Atmósfera con el segundo tema de este E.p. "Ahead - Only The Stars que Hampson realizó en 2007 para el Planetario de Poitiers en 7.1 Surround. La pieza está inspirada y dedicada a los astronautas de la NASA de las "Mercury Missions space program" y al piloto Chuck Yeager. Aquí podemos percibir cómo Hampson utiliza los sonidos-ruidos de las transmisiones de radio de las misiones quitando los dialogos.

Como habéis percibido en el comienzo de esta Atmósfera, el tema empieza con los sonidos de aviones o cohetes, surcando el cielo que posteriormente se transforman en elementos sónicos embebidos en capas, efectos y procesos complicados que dan como resultado un efecto loop con fuerte carga rítmica y pasajes ruidistas.

Como comentaba al principio, los diálogos han sido eliminados y precisamente es esta supresión posterior del elemento humano de la tecnología la que da una sensación muy diferente y extraña a la que hubiese sido si de forma natural los comentarios no existiesen

Popmatters (USA):

Robert Hampson began his career loud, repetitive, and filthy. The rusted snarls and feedback of his depraved guitar in Loop inverted the blissed-out sound of My Blood Valentine into pure repulsion, swampy yet netted into rhythmic cycles, a mantra from hell. When Hampson moved on to Main, his work grew even murkier, but his dub propulsions were soon scaled back as his guitar began to sound more and more abstract. By the time he unearthed Hz, he had gone so minimalist many stopped noticing he was even there, despite the fact that these hypnagogic dronescapes were some of the best of his career.

Vectors is the first we’ve heard from Hampson in a few years, and its sounds indicate that the title is appropriate. The flesh has been consistently gutted from Hampson’s work since his early Main days. What’s left are directionals, rudimentary shapes and spaces that function as couriers of disparate sound. There’s a moment 18 minutes and 11 seconds into “Dans le Lointain” where it sounds like a tiny chunk of the piece is carved off. Is this just the CD skipping, or is it an intentional glitch? Is it an unintentional one left in to bewilder listeners? The thing about works of indeterminacy like this one is that each set of ears will hear strategically contradistinctive combinations of sound differently.

Whether Vectors alternately bores or captivates depends on what listeners can pick up on, what context listeners hear them in, and whether listeners can position themselves along the vector. Though it can likely be said of most albums, these three commissioned pieces probably do work best on headphones. Astronomically themed as all of them are, only do headphones (and here’s guessing the original polyphonic contexts) correctly showcase the negative space emphasized in these pieces and the mobility of many of Hampson’s sounds throughout this hypothetical physical blank zone.

Rockdeluxe (Spain):

tinymixtapes (USA):

Robert Hampson’s impressive resume includes work with Jim O’Rourke and Organum in addition to some time as a member of Godflesh, but Vectors is compelling evidence of his skill as an independent solo experimenter. Nestled perfectly within the Touch aesthetic, the three recordings on this disc document installations Hampson created in Paris and Poitiers between 2006 and 2008.

The first piece, “Umbra,” is an exploration of shadows and eclipses in which Hampson gradually allows granular, occulted sounds to emerge and capture the full range of the stereo spectrum. Waves of insectile energy blend into one another amid roomier, bell-like tones, as if the listener were caught beneath swarms of mosquitoes commingling in the shadow of a cathedral. The juxtaposition of timbres is stark: the matte, tinny clattering sounds sickeningly cheap as it is gradually cloaked in luxuriant reverb of unknown origin.

Despite its 17-minute running time and constrained sonic palette, "Umbra" is restless and unpredictable, abruptly leaping from theme to theme. Hampson’s tools could easily be used to fashion a drone or ambient piece, but he seems more keen on focusing the listener’s attention on a whirling core of sounds by approaching it from multiple angles, like a movie director who edits together footage of the same scene from several different cameras.

“Ahead - Only the Stars” is a tribute to the astronauts from the NASA Mercury Missions, beginning with the sound of a jet slicing across the channels. The rest of the work consists of manipulated radio transmissions that buzz, blister, and flow, evoking murky tropical nightscapes as much as outer space. Hampson is a canny producer who can take stubbornly neutral sonic material and tease associations — a space shuttle door opening; breathing within an astronaut’s helmet; the titration of outer-space elixirs — from it.

Hampson continues to tangle the tinny ligaments of this music in the final piece “Dans le lointain,” in which he threads together his shortwave radio recordings dating from the early 1980s. It’s a fitting final third of what turns out to be a remarkably coherent album, despite the disparate occasions for which the pieces were originally performed.

Feardrop (France):

Au cœur même de son océan – the Main – Robert Hampson avait peu à peu décidé son attention sur les plus petits éléments (Kaon), jusqu’à en faire le plus important de son travail musical et finalement réaliser ses nouvelles œuvres sous son propre nom. Cette démarche, plus qu’anecdotique, marque sa sortie à la fois du rock, mais aussi de la musique ambiante et scelle la bascule dans un monde d’expérimentation savante (Francis Dhomont) dont Vectors est un témoin officiel. Les trois pièces de ce disque ne constituent pas les parties organiques d’un tout pensé comme tel, mais sont trois œuvres en apparence isolées, toutes résultant de commandes pour la France, deux du GRM (Paris) et une du festival Vibrö (Poitiers). Isolées en apparence seulement car au-delà de leur différence que nous allons rapidement balayer, elles montrent un artisanat commun, un travail de plus en plus patient qui rend les travaux de Robert Hampson tout aussi rares. Umbra, la première pièce, est en soi un monde nocturne. Tout d’abord parce qu’elle est pensée dans le concept suivant : chaque bloc de son apparaissant occulte les suivants dans son ombre. Les petits sons grandissent, s’émancipent pour à leur tour charger d’éclipse la suite de la création musicale. Mais son appartenance à la nuit s’illustre aussi bien sur un deuxième niveau métaphorique, où l’on considérera tous ces sons, claquements de mandibules, souffles contenus, harmoniques linéaires, dans leur conversation qui tient de la symphonie entomologique, celle que l’on entend mais que l’on ne voit pas, qui donne chaleur à la nuit. Cette poésie organiciste du micro-son est la grande qualité que Robert Hampson a appris à développer et qui n’est pas sans rappeler Toy Bizarre. Deuxième pièce, Ahead – Only the stars, dont le thème est tout à fait différent (hommage à des missions de la NASA), oblige l’utilisation de sons d’autre nature, mais pas d’autre format. C’est-à-dire que leur volume, leur granulométrie, et même leur longueur d’ondes, répondent à l’identité musicale de Robert Hampson, stimulant, au cœur même de l’impondérable, du fugitif, une organicité certaine, un tissage. Et si pourtant, cette deuxième pièce est, sur le disque, celle qui connaît le plus d’accrocs, ceux-ci sont souvent préposés à l’ouverture d’un nouveau déroulement. Le dernier morceau, Dans le lointain, utilise des sons enregistrés par Robert Hampson au début des années 80, auxquels il a appliqué un traitement plus récemment. Est-ce l’origine ancienne des sources ?, Dans le lointain est la pièce qui montre le plus certainement cet attachement à la texture, à la solidarité des matériaux entre eux. Vrombissement, tintements, miroitements, micro-souffles et drones, tous fluctuent, malgré leur différence de mouvement, de langue, dans une même et longue ondulation vasculaire, humide et mélancolique qui, il faut le reconnaître, est aussi celle qui rappelle le plus le geste final de Main. [Denis Boyer]

Neural (Italy):

Three dense and acousmatic tracks, in which Robert Hampson displays unconventional attitudes in very imaginative ways, are devoted to the construction of complex soundscapes. The plots are constructed with great care for the pauses; the ones in 'Umbra' - quote from Latin referring to the darker area projected by a body on a surface - vibrate a nearly alien sensibility, eclipsing traditional music forms in low and granular frequencies. The track, derived from a 16-track composition of 2006, is the second commissioned by the GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales) - an ensemble founded by Pierre Schaeffer in 1958, which now also devotes its time to the sociological and aesthetic analysis of experimental musical. Also 'Ahead', commissioned by Vibrö (a collective of artists, designers and journalists, with a specific interest in sound art), sports - since its original performance at the Planetarium of Poitiers - rarefied textures, here more spatially inclined, while in 'Dans Le Lointain' (always for the GRM), the reconstructions are made from old recordings, manipulating and skilfully "interpreting" short-wave radio signals.
 [Aurelio Cianciotta]

Paris Transatlantic (Web):

The days of Main are long gone, that project having introduced receptive listeners to the delights of drone-informed guitar modification with several spellbinding milestones, Hz being perhaps the most praiseworthy. But Robert Hampson's music keeps radiating an enigmatic aura which is all the more perplexing - yet always most welcome - given his recent work's increasing use of concrete sounds. Vectors, arriving after a long silence, gathers three fine electroacoustic episodes from 2006-2008, two commissioned by Radio France, the third created for a festival in Poitiers. "Umbra" recalls the composer's past glories, a splendid piece that makes the room quiver with sympathetic frequencies, as unintelligible pseudo-biotic interferences induce a feeling of helplessness in the listener amidst miasmic damp and nocturnal doubt. "Ahead - Only the Stars" opens the lungs a little, luminous electronic wakes introducing elements of hypermodernity systematically intercut with sporadic intermissions of digital energy and subsonic threat. "Dans le lointain" is a succession of snapshots in which polychromatic figures are filtered by computer-generated settings, transforming everything into a black-white-and-grey nerve-racking unease. Impressive stuff, and the worthy conclusion to a tremendous record that testifies to Hampson's status as a master of the genre. [MR]

Etherreal (France):

Faut-il encore présenter Robert Hampson ? On va la faire courte : ancien membre de Loop, actuellement et sur ces pages principalement connu pour être l'homme derrière le projet Main, plusieurs fois invité à ce titre au festival Présences Électronique. Abandonnant les boucles de guitare au profit de field recordings et collages mais jouant aussi parfois le rôle de l'arrangeur/producteur, le travail de Robert Hampson se rapproche actuellement de la musique concrète, trouvant logiquement sa place chez Touch après avoir passé des années chez Sub Rosa.

L'album est composé de trois pièces de 15-20 minutes, bien distinctes puisque composées entre 2006 et 2008. Il s'agit en fait de trois commandes ce qui pourrait donner à l'objet une impression de compilation heureusement évitée grâce à la durée des morceaux et leur unité de ton.

On trouvera la première pièce sombre, inquiétante. Une ambiance tout à fait normale en fait pour Umbra ("Ombre" en latin), commissionnée par le GRM pour l'édition 2006 du festival Présences Électronique, et faisant référence ici en astronomie à la zone à partir de laquelle un observateur verra une éclipse totale d'un astre. Crépitements, bruitages d'insectes, drones, tintements métalliques, crépitements, bruitages granuleux, machines et moteurs, le tout faisant preuve d'une impressionnante fluidité. Les sons s'enchaînent, s'effacent pour laisser la place aux suivants, joliment posés sur de longues nappes concrètes, créant parfois des ambiances aquatiques et sous-marines.

Avec Ahead - Only the Stars, on garde la tête dans les étoiles puisque cette pièce a été commissionnée par le label Vibrö pour un festival se déroulant au planétarium Mendès France de Poitiers. Après un décollage au son d'avions de chasse, ce sont des ondes radio, bleeps de machines (radars ?) qui ponctuent la pièce d'une grande douceur. Sonorités froides, métalliques ou minérales, là aussi toutes en longueurs pour un résultat plus proche de l'ambient que de ce que l'on entend généralement par musique concrète.

Le dernier morceau est également une commande du GRM, mais cette fois pour Akousma. On ne change pas vraiment de domaine puisque la base du travail de l'Anglais est ici des ondes radios enregistrées au début des années 80. Dans le lointain fait donc référence à ce matériau sonore qui voyage dans l'espace et ici le temps, réapparaissant plus de 25 ans après avoir été captées. Peu de changement sur la forme, mêlant drones motorisés et crépitements granuleux, perturbations sonores et chuintements bruitistes, ajoutant ça et là quelques sonorités acoustiques (coups métalliques, horloge), mais cherchant globalement plus à évoquer qu'à illustrer.

Ceux qui ont déjà pu voir Main/Robert Hampson en concert, peuvent se jeter sur cet album, parfait représentant de la finesse du travail de l'artiste. Les autres, amateurs d'ambient organique et poétique devraient y trouver leur compte. 7/8 [Fabrice Allard]

Liability (France)

Robert Hampson a un lourd cv. Très lourd même. Membre fondateur de Loop et tête pensante du cultissime Main, Robert Hampson a aussi, pendant un temps, fait partie du Godflesh de Justin Broadrick. On compte aussi des collaborations avec Bruce Gilbert (Wire), Paul Kendall, David Shea, Robin Rimbaud ou Steven Hess. Si il a participé a bien d'autres chose, ce qui vous été montré ici, donne une idée de l'importance du personnage qu'il tient dans le monde des musiques parallèles. Vectors est son premier véritable album en solitaire, si on ne tient pas compte de Maps qui n'était disponible qu'en téléchargement via son myspace, et il est composé de trois longues pièces réalisées à des moments très différents et qui sont des oeuvres de commandes. Umbra, morceau enregistré en 2006, a été commissioné par le GRM et a été joué dans la salle Olivier Messiaen à la Maison de Radio France, tout comme Dans Le Lointain mais qui, lui, dâte de 2008. Ahead - Only The Stars (2007), quant à lui a été commandé par Vibrö pour une performance au Planétarium de Poitiers. Trois pièces expérimentales, ancrées dans la musique concète et positivement riches en sonorités diverses tels sont les ingrédients pour appréhender de la meilleure des manières ce Vectors.
Finalement peu importe que ces trois morceaux aient été enregistrés à des instants et pour des occasions différentes. La musique, telle que le conçoit ici Robert Hampson, a un aspect assez monilitique dont les mouvements sont lents et imposants. Une musique qui occupe l'espace ne laissant aucune place au vide. On y croise tous les aspects de ce qui fait que la musique concrète est intemporelle, sans âge, asexuée et répondant, plus que tout autre chose, à un fort sentiment existentiel. Ce que réalise Robert Hampson avec Vectors est une performance aussi classique que belle. Classique car, techniquement parlant, il répond aux normes imposées par le genre et qu'il ne sort pas vraiment du sentier balisé par de glorieux ainés. Belle, parce que, artistiquement parlant, le champs d'exploitation de la musique concrète a toujours été vaste permettant à l'imagination de répondre à toutes sortes d'exigences. Robert Hampson a parfaitement intégré tout cela et Vectors en est la parfaite illustration. [Fabien]

Fear Drop (France):

Au c¦ur même de son océan - the Main - Robert Hampson avait peu à peu décidé son attention sur les plus petits éléments (Kaon), jusqu'à en faire le plus important de son travail musical et finalement réaliser ses nouvelles ¦uvres sous son propre nom. Cette démarche, plus qu'anecdotique, marque sa sortie à la fois du rock, mais aussi de la musique ambiante et scelle la bascule dans un monde d'expérimentation savante (Francis Dhomont) dont Vectors est un témoin officiel. Les trois pièces de ce disque ne constituent pas les parties organiques d'un tout pensé comme tel, mais sont trois ¦uvres en apparence isolées, toutes résultant de commandes pour la France, deux du GRM (Paris) et une du festival Vibrö (Poitiers). Isolées en apparence seulement car au-delà de leur différence que nous allons rapidement balayer, elles montrent un artisanat commun, un travail de plus en plus patient qui rend les travaux de Robert Hampson tout aussi rares. Umbra, la première pièce, est en soi un monde nocturne. Tout d'abord parce qu'elle est pensée dans le concept suivant : chaque bloc de son apparaissant occulte les suivants dans son ombre. Les petits sons grandissent, s'émancipent pour à leur tour charger d'éclipse la suite de la création musicale. Mais son appartenance à la nuit s'illustre aussi bien sur un deuxième niveau métaphorique, où l'on considérera tous ces sons, claquements de mandibules, souffles contenus, harmoniques linéaires, dans leur conversation qui tient de la symphonie entomologique, celle que l'on entend mais que l'on ne voit pas, qui donne chaleur à la nuit. Cette poésie organiciste du micro-son est la grande qualité que Robert Hampson a appris à développer et qui n'est pas sans rappeler Toy Bizarre. Deuxième pièce, Ahead - Only the stars, dont le thème est tout à fait différent (hommage à des missions de la NASA), oblige l'utilisation de sons d'autre nature, mais pas d'autre format. C'est-à-dire que leur volume, leur granulométrie, et même leur longueur d'ondes, répondent à l'identité musicale de Robert Hampson, stimulant, au c¦ur même de l'impondérable, du fugitif, une organicité certaine, un tissage. Et si pourtant, cette deuxième pièce est, sur le disque, celle qui connaît le plus d'accrocs, ceux-ci sont souvent préposés à l'ouverture d'un nouveau déroulement. Le dernier morceau, Dans le lointain, utilise des sons enregistrés par Robert Hampson au début des années 80, auxquels il a appliqué un traitement plus récemment. Est-ce l'origine ancienne des sources ?, Dans le lointain est la pièce qui montre le plus certainement cet attachement à la texture, à la solidarité des matériaux entre eux. Vrombissement, tintements, miroitements, micro-souffles et drones, tous fluctuent, malgré leur différence de mouvement, de langue, dans une même et longue ondulation vasculaire, humide et mélancolique qui, il faut le reconnaître, est aussi celle qui rappelle le plus le geste final de Main. [Denis Boyer]

Machina (Poland):





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