Jeph Jerman and Tim Barnes – Versatile Ambience (2016, IDEA Intermedia)
“It’s not about emotion and telling stories, it’s about concentrating on sound.” — Jeph Jerman
As the epigram suggests, sound artist Jeph Jerman’s modus operandi is one which is less concerned with the affective qualities of sound and instead favors the very fundaments of hearing. Versatile Ambience is one hell of a hear. Risky and entrancing, the duo have crafted two solid slabs of sound on one long playing record with sound works comprised of field and nature recordings, found sounds, and tape hiss. While “traditional” instruments appear, the record is far from straightforward. Percussive, droning, abrasive, soothing, etc. — a wide range of textures and noise permeate this meditative study on sound, which again begs the question, what constitutes music? Regardless of the answer, both sides of the LP deliver.