Kris Keogh is an Australian musician, producer, artist and designer and is the sixth artist to feature on New Weird Australia’s ‘New Editions’ release series with ‘Processed Harp Works, Volume One’.
Several years in the making, the genesis can be traced to leaving behind the tropics and moving to Osaka in 2008. Coming from his base in Arnhem Land and never having lived in a city before, Kris soon realised he could do whatever he wanted. Learning to play the harp was top of his list. Spending a year studying harp by day and mixing it with the Osaka underground by night was the perfect double life. After writing his dream audio software, he moved back home to Arnhem Land, locked himself away for three months with the girl of his dreams and made this album.
With a long history of music making, from his renowned Blastcorp project to the recent work as the duo Red Plum and Snow, ‘Processed Harp Works, Volume One’ represents a sonic departure on an epic scale – one that required an organisation the size of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra to realise. Kris discovered their harp in storage, allowing him to continue the learning curve initiated in Japan – recording by day, splicing and mutating by night.
With influences as diverse as Debussy, Merzbow, Prince, Kris explains his rationale thus: “I made this record to make girls swoon, scare animals and bewilder my family. Imply everything. Bury melody. Obscure rhythm. Respect tradition. Fuck presets.”
1. As we said goodbye to everything we ever knew 00:56
2. You sat, looking out, but couldn’t begin to explain 02:22
3. Above Paris, with stars in our eyes 03:45
4. With our own atmosphere 00:45
5. Secretly knowing we’d never be the same 03:29
6. It felt like my future, inside a black & white movie 02:44
7. As meteor showers melted your heart 02:16
8. Frozen, danger ringing in my ears 02:49
9. Your eyes said we were never coming back 03:55
10. I held on so tight as our whole world disintegrated 05:52
11. We were gone, further than forever 02:45
Written, played, recorded, processed, mixed and mastered by Kris Keogh.
This album is entirely made from harp recordings processed using self-made Reaktor ensembles.
Harp recorded at CDU Theatre, Darwin (Mar-Sept 2010)
Processed and mixed at home in Nhulunbuy, Arnhem Land (Oct 2010 – Jan 2011)
Reaktor ensembles built by trial and error (2003-2010)
Sleeve design by Heath Killen.
“What do you get when you lock musician and producer Kris Keogh up in his native Arnhem Land with a harp and his self-written audio software? This: 11 harp songs that have been cut up, twisted, stretched and transformed into something that would probably be best pigeonholed as ambient experimental electronica. Over the record’s half-hour you’re transported into yawning sonic caverns, cool underground rivers of glissando flowing swiftly as icy tinkles and glitches spark in and out of existence like fireflies. There are also lush forests, layer upon layer of thick noise rustling and swaying in distorted breezes, shrill birdcall and lazy insect buzz for punctuation. In using an instrument as pure as the harp for the source material, Keogh has ensured that despite the digital wizardry, beauty and tenderness survive – humanising what would otherwise be quite confronting sound.”
Rave Magazine, May 2011
MUSIC NT feature an extensive Q&A with Kris titled ‘The Future Sound Of Darwin’ with rare photography of Kris at Aoyama Harp Studio in Osaka: “His new album – entitled ‘Processed Harp Works: Volume One‘ – is a luscious, dreamlike conglomerate of ‘click music’ and sampled harp sweeps, processed through software which he wrote himself. It might sound like an odd mix but the glitches marry organically to the harps strings, to produce work reminiscent of Japanese electronica pioneer Susumu Yokota, known for making equally haunting, beautiful electronic symphonies.”
Kris supplies the cover art and is interviewed by Alexandra Savvides in Issue 28 of CYCLIC DEFROST. “Processed Harp Works, Volume 1 is the sort of soundtrack that could easily accompany a Shigeru Miyamoto video game – imagine a Legend of Zelda-esque aural aesthetic married to beautiful imagery on screen.” You can read it online at cyclicdefrost.com, but we recommend downloading the PDF version for full effect.
The Australian blog EAST TO WEST is always unearthing amazing new local music. On Kris’ album, they say: “The crackling of the synths engulfs you as you come in and out of consciousness. It’s a cold, Eastern European winter and you wake up shivering throughout the night. Roll out of bed, crack open a bottle of vodka, warm your insides as you drown out the heavy rain beating down on the windows. Eventually, you’ll drift back to sleep…”
COME INTO LAND: “Though it’s every bit meditative as you might imagine an ambient composer’s approach to harp music would be, every moment is compelling. Keogh’s sampling gives every moment of disconnectedness a heavy emotional charge, with each periodic interjection of harp tones punctuating a complex and sympathetic textural layer.”
GRASS HOUSES: “As the name implies, the record is purely made up of recorded harp, processed and chopped, to an effect like a CD expertly scratched to skip choreographically. Moment of heavenly epiphany cut short by the subdued tones that should have built up to them. This, along with linear song titles, creates a narrative; or at least, it creates the sense of a narrative, obfuscated by constant jumps between chapters. Not so much a record of ‘catchy tunes’, treat this more as a piece of sound-art to be analysed, or else, on the contrary, as an ambient record to chill to.”
FLASHLIGHTTAG: “It sounds absolutely wild. Strange. Beautiful.”
REVIEWS NT: “Under a new label and a new name Kris Keogh has pushed himself again to create sounds that the intelligent listener can understand. Not restricted to the mainstream structure of chorus, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, smash instruments. Kris has beautifully created his own world of noise that is visually enhanced by his own art work behind him on the stage and his laptop next to him.”
GRIND ONLINE “Like holding your breath so long you hear the tinkling of the angels wings”
Thanks too to all the radio shows that have supported the record, including Sound Lab (Triple J), Sound Quality (ABC Radio National), Utility Fog (FBi), Difficult Listening (RTR FM), Delivery (3RRR), War Is Peace (4ZZZ) and more.