In fragmented, alien futuristic materials, FRKTL – aka Sarah Badr – has produced another spectacular release. This project fuses her evocative sound design with increasing virtuosity in digital visuals, as generated surfaces melt into synesthesia.
Sarah to me was already pushing the envelope of sound design in organic, flowing compositions, and now all the little tidbit etudes she’s been posting to social media come together in a single immersive audiovisual release.
There is a narrative here – the British-Egyptian artist is for now based in Riga, Latvia, and curator Leyya Tawil evokes a series exploring displacement and diaspora. It fits the experience, with interwoven fragments of clanging percussion or mournful-sounding tunes atop stretched-out granular textures that grown and ache, like deeply felt dreams. As the curatorial statement puts it:
Presented as part of the fourth installment of the Nomadic Signals series by Leyya Tawil, ISSUE Project Room’s 2020 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow. A vessel for performance operating in what Tawil refers to as the ‘diasporic imaginary’, this programme of sonic and visual illusory spaces explores how sounds change in the diaspora; how they tether to their environment, accumulate, synthesise, and adapt.
But the experience for eyes and ears is visceral and moving enough that honestly I imagine we would all even settle for “here is some alien molten goo making wild noises” as a statement and be equally pleased. Neither visual nor sound feels like an afterthought – the visuals playing on mute ooze sonic possibilities; close your eyes and lose yourself in the score and you’ll surely see these dancing fluids and shifting bodies colliding.
The score shifts between acoustic-sounding references, recognizable snippets of melody and instrument, and thick blankets of abstract sound and drone. But many of the sounds mirror the visuals – shapes between coalesced geometry and disintegration, materials that drift between liquid, cloth, metal, and digital de-resolution.
Watch the whole film (and then go buy the Bandcamp release, obviously):
The presentation was accompanied this week by a live-streamed performance, but please do book Sarah live as we gradually climb our way out of pandemic restrictions.
And lastly here are some excerpts from FRKTL’s Instagram feed. I think it’s a great model, in that – this doesn’t just read as advertisement, but a kind of public display of practice as she iterates on her work. (That is model as in, here is a better way to use Instagram, and practice as in – she put in a lot of work here, all I believe using the open-source Blender.)
Last year’s release was essential, too, in case you missed it, certainly for many of us a top release of 2020:
And, well, if that doesn’t sum up creating digital music and creating digital motion, I don’t know what does. I’ll call it for today, accordingly.
Oh PS one last note – in addition to working intensively on her solo work and making everything (visuals, sound, release, the lot), Sarah is also very active surfacing excellent work by other people. Follow her on Twitter and she’s constantly supporting other folks, and you’ll do well to find other futuristic sounds via sources like her regular residency on the excellent international hub that is Hong Kong Community Radio – latest episode: