James Andean is a musician and sound artist. He is active as both a performer and a composer in a range of fields, including electroacoustic composition and performance, improvisation, sound installation, and sound recording. Primary research interests include acousmatic music, sound diffusion, free improvisation, cognitive narratology, and ecological psychology.
James is a founding member of improvisation and new music quartet Rank Ensemble and interdisciplinary improvisation ensemble The Tuesday Group, and one half of audiovisual performance art duo Plucié/DesAndes. He has performed throughout Europe and North America, and his works have been performed around the world. He is currently completing a doctorate in acousmatic composition at the Centre for Music & Technology of the Sibelius Academy/University of the Arts Helsinki.
The idea for this piece began with my work on a contemporary reimagining of Cherubini's opera Medea, which was presented at the Helsinki Design Museum in August 2011 as part of the Helsinki Night of the Arts. The sound material for Maledetta is built primarily from treatments of Callas' performance, and from my recording of the piano reduction, as well as additional sound material which had originally been prepared for the Design Museum performance.
Maledetta intends to present a portrait of the title character of Medea, primarily through a portrayal of her psychological state – shifting back and forth between calm and maternal, and vengeful, violent and disturbed. This is most clearly achieved through the processing and treatment of the sound material, but also through the dislocated formal structure: while certain sound materials act as both themes and structural markers, the work proceeds in a series of alternating states, with the sense of formal development regularly frustrated and ruptured, although the work regularly makes reference to the C minor chord of the opening and closing phrases.
Maledetta was presented at the 2012 International Computer Music Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Nuit Blanche, Futura Festival 2013, France; World Electroacoustic Listening Room Project/12th Annual CSUF New Music. Festival, California State University, Fullerton; Korvat Auki 35th anniversary concert, October 2012, Helsinki; and at the Lightworks 2012 new media festival, Grimsby, UK.
This piece began when an output error turned John Cage reciting a series of small stories into a dense tapestry of noise; a fitting tribute, perhaps, for a piece created in the centenary of Cage's birth. The work presents a foreground of clicking gestures – every one following the same trajectory, yet every one unique, with subtle differences in timbre, velocity, and so on – layered and sequenced to provide a balance between monotonous repetition and detailed counterpoint. Behind this foreground layer is a soundscape struggling to be heard, sometimes masked by the mechanical foreground, sometimes spilling forward with a burst, cry, or distant wail.
Ainnurruvar I, composed for four performers playing an array of toys and objects, was in some ways an attempt to write an acousmatic or musique concrète work for a live ensemble. However, I could not resist the siren call of my acousmatic roots and the temptation to recast the work as a tape piece. The result is Ainnurruvar II, which, ironically perhaps, brings the work full cycle: tape music which had been written for ensemble, is now a work for ensemble made into tape music.
To hold to the spirit of the original, there is very limited processing of the sound materials in Ainnurruvar II, with only a single brief exception.
Medusan Torso (2011) was inspired by work on the audiovisual installation Re:****Sitruuna ja meduusa, in collaboration with visual artist Merja Nieminen, which premiered at Galleria Aarni in Espoo, Finland in February 2011. Torso is composed entirely from the sound material from this installation; but where this material was deconstructed for the installation, then re-composed in real-time by the software governing the virtual projected environment, here it has been shaped and fixed to a timeline, allowing for a very different exploration of these same materials, and offering very different results.
Seeing Things. 2013. Music and sound design.
First Call - Child Poverty. 2011. Music.
Korkein Oikeus. 2008. Pianist.
Perintö. 2006. Soundtrack.
"Re:****Sitruuna ja meduusa" is an audiovisual installation, in collaboration with visual artist Merja Nieminen, which premiered at Galleria Aarni, in Espoo, Finland, in February 2011, and has since been exhibited in Berlin, London, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Athens GA. "Re:****Sitruuna ja meduusa" was exhibited in Germany as part of the NordArt 2012 exhibition, and received an honorable mention in the 2013 Destellos Competition.
The installation constructs a 'live' dynamic system, comprised of projected 3D graphics and projected sound, creating a virtual environment or ecosystem which changes and evolves in real-time. It explores the capacity of the spectator to create relationships - to build worlds - from multiple sensory information.
This work was made possible thanks to the support of the Sibelius Academy Development Centre.
Combining sculptural objects, 3d mapping, real-time projected visuals, and sound projection, "Cleome/Gliese 902" creates a landscape that exists somewhere between sleep and waking – images shift; shapes are strange but familiar; sounds scurry and resonate, disappearing before we can grab hold. Where previous work was relegated to the projected world of both sound and visuals, Cleome/Gliese 902 extends this imaginary universe forward from the projection into the gallery space; sculptural objects link the exhibition space with the objects of the projected space, while these sculptural objects themselves act as surfaces for projection. "Cleome/Gliese 902" was exhibited at Galleria Katariina, Helsinki, in January 2012.Vimeo | merjanieminen.com/cleomegliese902/
"Cleome/Gliese 581c" extends earlier work by further integrating sculptural, structural, and architectural elements into the works, which range from sounding sculptural boxes to room-sized installation works. In addition, this exhibition included a live performance, which used the exhibition itself as instrument, inserting a human presence into the alien landscapes of the works – an unpredictable intruder sowing confusion and chaos…
"Cleome/Gliese 581c" was exhibited at Titanik Gallery, Turku, Finland, in October/November 2012.
E100 (2010, with François Xavier Saint-Pierre) was a sound installation commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival, in celebration of the opening of their new Bell Lightbox theatre complex. In 2010, the Toronto International Film Festival, together with Cinematheque Ontario, prepared a list of the 'Essential 100 Films', which were then presented as a film series at the Bell Lightbox. The E100 installation was part of the Essential Cinema exhibition organised in conjunction with this film series. It ran from 9 September through 3 October, 2010, in Cinema 5 of the Bell Lightbox.
"E-100 re-contextualises cinematic sounds from the Essential 100 - fragments of dialogue, instrumental samples and environmental sounds - according to their musical properties, creating an encyclopaedic sonic collage. While the sounds are divorced from their narrative context, memories of their original contexts linger, and evocative juxtapositions ensue. The metrical perfection and monotone voice of Hal 9000 is coloured by a sample of Bernard Hermann's hypnotic score of Vertigo, for example, or two films that share a fixation on an image from the past meet, as the closing fanfare of Charles Foster Kane's life joins the spoken thoughts of La Jetée's unnamed time traveler. An aleatoric algorithm links the collaged phrases of cinema sounds creating an unending chain of musical scenes, and offering audiences a new, non-visual experience of cinema's most significant moments." - Laurel MacMillan
(Winner, Gold Statue: Best Pavilion Design.) In spring 2009, the group that was to become the Resonator Helsinki sound collective was asked to provide sound and music for the Finland Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Over the year that followed, this team worked closely with the architects and designers of the pavilion, as well as with the team responsible for the video projection that formed the audiovisual centrepiece of the pavilion's main exhibition space, to prepare a large-scale, multi-faceted sound installation. This included sound for many different spaces on all three floors of the pavilion, including music and soundscapes, as well as sound design for the large-scale video presentations. My role in this group centred on soundscape and sound design. I was entirely responsible for the soundscapes and sound installations for the entry and foyer of the pavilion, and for the VIP lounges on the pavilion's third floor; I also contributed soundscapes for the main exhibition spaces, and contributed to the sound design for the main video installations.
The excerpt compiles material taken from several of these spaces. Additional material by Libero Mureddu.
Juorujen Äärelle (2008) is an audio installation, commissioned by the Sibelius Weeks festival and presented in the city of Järvenpää, Finland, in November 2008. Juorujen Äärelle was entirely composed from press material surrounding the festival's previous commission - a work by Finnish composer and violist Max Savikangas, presented two years earlier. This includes quotes extracted from commentary and interviews with the composer and members of the public, as well as the electroacoustic treatment of radio broadcasts covering the opening of Savikangas' installation.
Mahtava is one of the longer sections of Juorujen Äärelle. It is built from a single phrase of Finnish text: "Mahtavaa - nyt se pulputtaa tuossa", which translates as "Wonderful - now it's pumping there". It is quoted from a newspaper interview with Savikangas, referring to the sound coming from a loudspeaker at his installation's opening. This short text is repeated and increasingly layered, creating rhythms and timbral artefacts in a manner reminiscent of Steve Reich's early tape pieces. The work is further developed through an additional process, whereby the results are filtered through the formants of the reader's voice: the strongest formant areas are increasingly reinforced, while the rest of the spectrum begins to drop away. Eventually, when all sense of words and speech has fallen away, leaving only pulsing drones, these processes reverse themselves, finally to return to the original phrase.
'Mahtavaa' was selected for exhibition as part of radioCona's Radio Arts Space exhibition, ŠKUC Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia, & Pixxelpoint festival, Nova Gorica, Slovenia, December 2011, and for the 2012 Runokuu/Poetry Moon Festival, Lavaklubi, Finnish National Theatre, Helsinki, August 2012.
Escalator pour l'échafaud (2008, created with Kate McHugh) is an installation for grand piano. A number of actuators and loudspeakers are fitted in and around a grand piano; each is assigned a sonic identity, culled from the surrounding urban environs, including escalators, trains, skateboards... . These are variously supported by the piano's soundboard and body, while the sound suddenly cuts at random intervals, leaving the piano strings to resonate freely, until these urban rhythms bubble up once again... More information.
Rank Ensemble is a Helsinki-based ensemble devoted to new music and free improvisation. More specifically, their activities focus on improvisation on the one hand, as well as works from the contemporary music repertoire which include elements of improvisation, or otherwise expanded roles for the performers.
Rank Ensemble is: Saara Rautio - Harp; Solmund Nystabakk - Guitar; Elena Kakaliagou - French horn; James Andean - Piano and electronics
Plucié/Des Andes are film artist Marek Pluciennik and sound artist James Andean. Together they have developed a unique audiovisual performance practice, drawing on the diverse background each has in their respective fields, seamlessly blending film, sound art, and performance art.Marek Pluciennik emphasises the tactile qualities of film, not just as a vessel for content, but as a material medium, by treating and transforming the film during the act of projection, most commonly by melting and burning the film as it is projected on the screen, as well as through the digital capture and transformation of both materials and process. The visual results are thus a combination of the film content, and the beautiful, strangely transfixing display of colour and texture as the film bubbles, melts, and dissolves. The results capture the transitory, ephemeral nature of experience, art, and performance, as images, scenes, narratives, and people melt away on the screen. Pluciennik's live treatment of the film extends into the digital - as these physical metamorphoses are recaptured, digitally treated and transformed, and projected anew - and also into the realm of performance art, as his methods are played out in front of, within, and around the audience, sometimes requiring the participation of audience members, and often extending into broader metaphors of performance action. James Andean creates live soundscapes to accompany and dialogue with the projected visuals. These soundscapes are often centred on live, site-specific sound, using the sound artifacts of the venue, the space, the audience, or the film projection as primary sound materials, to be further developed and extended live in the spontaneity of performance, creating a soundworld which once again stresses the fleeting impermanence of the experience of live art.
The Research Group in Interdisciplinary Improvisation began as a University of the Arts Helsinki pilot project in September 2012. The original mandate of the group was to bring together students and practitioners from the many fields of artistic practice represented at the Arts University, such as sound, theatre, music, studio art (drawing, painting, etc.), performance art, dance, film/video, and so on, and to explore improvisation as a cross-disciplinary practice.
Resonator Helsinki was a sound art production and interaction design company based in Helsinki and Berlin, specialising in interactive environments and sound for public and commercial spaces, including sound art and installations, soundscapes, and architectural sound design.
Email James at .
The Future of Electroacoustic Pedagogy. Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference Meaning and Meaningfulness in Electroacoustic Music.
An Embodied Approach to Acousmatic Music. Proceedings of the 16th Annual Symposium for Music Scholars in Finland.
Working Methods of the Sound & Motion. Improvisation Research Group, Helsinki. With M. Decoster-Taivalkoski. Reflections on Process in Sound, Issue 1.
The Musical and the Narrative in Acousmatic Music. Finnish music research 100 years: proceedings of the celebrational symposium.
Ecological Psychology and the Electroacoustic Concert Context. Organised Sound, Vol. 16 #2. August 2011. Cambridge Journals.
© Cambridge University Press 2011
The Musical/Narrative Dichotomy: Sweet Anticipation and some implications for acousmatic music. Organised Sound, Vol. 15 #2. August 2010. Cambridge Journals.
© Cambridge University Press 2010
Acoustic environments in change: a review. Agricola - Suomen historiaverkko. June 2010.
A Canadian Electroacoustician in Finland. eContact, Vol 11 #2. July 2009.
Space Within Space. Master's Thesis, Sibelius Academy. February 2009.
Ilmatar's inspirations: a review. Journal of Finnish Studies, Vol. 6 #1-2. Dec 2002.
Là-Bas Biennale. Shinji Kanki & Rank Ensemble: Postulde to Towards White. On Aureobel 3AB-0110/Là-Bas CD 2.
Chant Trio "...Ma io ch'in questa lingua" (Auand AU9022): recording, mixing
Ikihevonen (Silakka S001): recording, mixing, mastering
Anna Maria Castelli "(R)esistere" (M.P.3 International): mixing
Markku Heikinheimo "J.S. Bach: Orgelbüchlein" (SibaRecords SACD-1003): recording, mixing (stereo & surround)
Interviewed by Helsinki Meeting Point, Tanssiteatteri Hurjaruuth
Interviewed by Susan Wilander on "30 Minutes of Fame", KSL-radio 100,3 MHz, Helsinki Finland (2011 Spring #8)
Press release for 'Sitruuna ja meduusa' featured on Espoon Kuvataiteilijat. Finnish and English.
Audio © copyright 2011 James Andean, as well as the other performers and composers as mentioned.
Photography credits: first: Egle Oddo; second: Interchange42; third: Egle Oddo; fourth and fifth courtesy of Resonator Helsinki, © copyright.