Bio Reviews - Signal to Noise
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Review of Music for Found Objects

Jesse Stewart is an instrument builder and percussionist based in Guelph, Ontario who has performed with the likes of Martin Tetreault, Joe McPhee and Ladonna Smith. As the CD title denotes, Stewart employs found objects as percussion instruments, but this is not a random smash and bash exercise. Rather, in a very formal and compositional manner, the nine tracks are divided evenly around the primal elements of water, metal and stone. For Stewart, these items that came from thrift stores, garage sales or were given to him by friends are as much about the exploration of sonorities, overtones, pitches, timbres and tones of the objects as they are about tactile, physical quality.

Indeed, in some cases, these inquiries come off more like science projects than sonic inquiries. For example, in the “water” section, Stewart uses wooden salad bowls floating upside down in a bathtub for his source material for “Pockets”; a water filled Giant Tun shell on “Hiding Places” and canoe paddles for “Different Strokes”. For the metal he employs a stainless steel bowl and a 12-inch steel electrical conduit on “Composition for Steel Bowl and Cylinder”, a 50-inch galvanized steel electrical conduit on “Sliding Music” and 22-inch circular saw blade on “Hand To Blade”. For the stone, its a mallet-struck chunk of marble on “(71.5x15x2)+2”; on “Shell Gamne”, it is the rolling of two spherical iron/sandstone concretions within two upside down stone cups on two circular marble tables and for “Junctures” is the striking, rolling and scraping of 13 cylindrical stone drill core samples by two others, like stone version of a movable vibraphone. Musique concrete? How about concrete music?

Stewart hopes we discover a sense of wonder from these “(extra) ordinary” objects and the resulting sounds are at once familiar yet mysterious and marvelous, primal and sonically complex; linking the amateur acoustics sleuth with instrument building pioneers like Harry Partch, Hal Rammel or Moe! Staiano.

Reviewed by Richard Moule