A heavy rattle of machinery – a washing machine maybe, full of stones – and a nearby siren wail open Mites’ Passing Resemblance, the latest in a growing line of found-noise collage releases on the fascinating Copy For Your Records.
Mites is Grisha Shakhnes, a sound artist who has quietly issued an impressive collection of albums over the past year. Using his collection of field recordings - purposefully avoiding what he terms the ‘nice and ambient‘ - Shakhnes gently welds sounds together into long, patient interpretations of the everyday. The machinery that opens the album, on ‘You Can Come and Shake My Hand’ (he has a way with titles) ends up coming so close to the microphone at stages that it sounds as though you’ve been caught in a forest fire. ‘Comfort’ is a short primer for the mammoth ‘Why Elephants Are Not Allowed To Cross A Bridge’, combining street sounds with distant prayer in a way you will almost certainly have heard countless times before but which remains so effective as to make it worthwhile all the same. At some point here a car horn drones through the mix, bringing the track to a strangely eerie close. One imagines a vehicle on its side with its wheels still spinning and the engine hissing as the sound of prayer echoes in the stricken driver’s ear.
For almost twenty minutes ‘Why Elephants Are Not Allowed To Cross A Bridge’ rolls over, severely muffled as though drowned in concrete. This is where Shakhnes is at his most composed, allowing the track to develop so slowly as to be almost imperceptible. The sudden pause at the halfway point comes just as the creaks and cracks heard so quietly at the start rise to the top and into full clarity. The effect is like swimming upwards from a great depth and, unfortunately, not quite making it. When the sound returns it ebbs pathetically amongst wood and debris, like a body floating into harbour and snagging on the pier. Shakhnes breaks the track up into sections from here, chopping in part of a foreign language TV show and rain so heavy it reaches white noise levels, but it never quite reaches the same heights – or plumbs the same depths – as the opening twenty minutes.