Artist: Michael Northam
Title: Automnal 2003
Catalog Number: and/23
Release Year: 2006
Format: CD
Status: Sold Out

Track List:
01.
Weave [Glacier Test]
02. Creek [At Nan's]
03. Ils Grosbois [Montréal]
Highly indicative of the nomadic life that international sound artist Michael
Northam
has come to know over the past 5 or so years, this release
represents a sonic recollection of his life dispersed across a vast
geography, pinpointing three specific locations and moments from his long
journey:

- Glacier du Trient, Switzerland / France
- Eagle Creek, Indianapolis
- Ils Grosbois, Montreal

At times, this hypnotic release presents meditative, invigorating, and eerie
translations of places and experiences in ways that only Northam can
poetically convey.

Originally dispersed among friends in 2003 as a limited edition
"spontaneous document" CDR, this work is now re-issued on CD so it can
finally be enjoyed by more people. And deservedly so.
Smallfish  (August 2006)
Automnal 2003 is an audio document capturing 3 moments / locations in
time. Glacier Du Trient in Switzerland, Eagle Creek in Indianapolis and Ils
Grosbois in Montreal. The artist travelled and moved studio 13 times in 3
years and these locations formed part of the journey. Initially released as a
limited edition of 50 copies, and/OAR has seem fit to give them a new life
with this beautifully packaged release. The three tracks are deep, incredibly
hypnotic soundscapes that bear comparisons with the works of Gas,
Kenneth Kirschner and, perhaps more pertinently, William Basinski. There's
a deep sense of melody throughout each piece coupled with background
sounds that add a little aural punctuation but essentially it's all about the
ambient tones that are conjured up. A magical selection of tracks that place
and/OAR and Mnortham firmly at the top of the tree as regard to this form of
minimalist music. Quite simply a wonderful release that's recommended
most highly.  (Mike Oliver)
Earlabs  (October 2006)
My first (and somehow positive) impression was, that I didn't hear the
expected field-recordings of the stated locations, instead there are clusters
of long lasting tones, gently sweeping in space. I would not call it a
drone-thing, because it is so airy and fragile. Northam carefully adds some
metallic sounds which could be derived from field-recordings but I cannot
say what kind of. Later I recognize the sound of ringing church bells in the
distance. The end of this 32 minutes lasting first track "weave (glacier test)"
is a fine highpass filtered part.

The second and shortest track "creek (at nan´s)" deals with deeper
frequencies than before and again it sounds like field-recordings which I
cannot associate. Under the thick wall of the deep frequencies there are
some short metallic crashes and sizzles. Again Northam blends out with a
highpass filtered version of the sound heard before.

"ils grosbois (montréal)" the last of the three tracks is a very subtle, gleaming
piece. It starts with a field-recording, which could derive from walking through
the woods. Then there are more and more layers of long lasting bell-like
tones, which are falling on me like breaking through sun rays. Somehow I
associate here a very sunny, overwhelming beautiful place in the woods.

All in all I cannot complain about anything in this release, which is for me one
of the best at and/OAR. It doesn't matter that this recording has been
re-issued after 3 years, as it is a so ageless sonic pleasure.
(Sascha Renner)
Remote Thoughts  (October 2006)
and/OAR continues to impress me as a label with its varied, original and
extremely high quality release and it’s clear that owner Dale Lloyd takes a
great deal of care over every single release.

As such it’s always a pleasure to hear a new CD from such a quality imprint
and this release from Mnortham is absolutely sublime.

The three tracks that make up the 55 minute CD are audio snapshots of
three different locations in time and reflect the ideas and feelings the artist
had whilst relocating around the globe thirteen times in the just two years,
culminating in his arrival back home in Autumn 2003.

Prepare to be soothed and engaged by the work on offer here as there’s a
tangible sense of difference between the pieces, even though the approach
is roughly the same each time with processing of location recordings and
found sounds forming the main structures.

‘Glacier Du Trient, Switzerland/France’ is a light, breezy, yet discordant piece
that lifts you up with its high end drone sounds and insistent clicks in the
background which force you to pay attention. It’s hard tune it out and you’ll
find yourself listening to it in depth and discovering more and more resonant
frequencies existing than you imagined at first.

‘Eagle Creek, Indianapolis’ has a heavier, more oppressive tone and bears
a similarity at times to some of the work of Wolfgang Voigt under his Gas
moniker. Combined with the sound of cicadas in the background the organic
tone that drives the track forward gives you a palpable sense of a wide open
space inhabited by creatures of the night.

The final piece ‘Ils Grosbois, Montreal’ is the most haunting of the works
here. A mid/high-frequency drone that works with discordant layers
resonates at just the right level to create a sense of dislocation, gradually
adding in subtle static sounds and scratchy, gritty tones into the background.
Again this give the track a real sense of movement, driving it ever forward.

And it’s this sense of moving and never settling in one place that permeates
the whole CD… a feeling of transience captured for eternity on a piece of
encoded plastic.

That’s the magic of music and it’s certainly where the magic of this CD
comes from.

A delightful, beautiful and very personal piece of work.
Touching Extremes  (December 2006)
Constantly working on the borders between nature and unconscious,
Michael Northam is one of those artists who is almost impossible not to
appreciate. "Automnal 2003" consists of three long haunting tracks that,
according to the composer, are "taken from three moments/locations" during
the "re-collection of my life dispersed across North America and Europe"
(Northam relocated 13 times between 2001 and 2003; and I thought that my
own four moves in five years were a sort of record...). The album is full of
magnificently sounding faint luminescences, carriers of barely defined
frequencies which contribute to a state of perturbed serenity. Pseudo-aquatic
emissions and environmental subtleties mesh with what sounds like
misshapen aural documentaries of life in a termitarium; ghostly undulations
and uncatchable harmonic constellations put your head into their huge, yet
impalpable hands to caress it until acceptance becomes mandatory. At the
end of the first movement I seemed to perceive joyously tolling bells, filtered
and processed to sound like they were underwater, but maybe it was just an
acoustic mirage. Yet, I felt such a warmth in my heart at that very moment that
I wished it would never stop.  (Massimo Ricci)
Aquarius Records  (April 2007)
As of spring 2007, the nomadic lifestyle of Michael Northam may land the
American born sound artist in New Delhi where he might manage a media
arts facility or he might take up the humble calling of a gardener in the south
of France, where he could find plenty of inspiration for his ecologically tinged
compositions. The excitement, fear, and instability of not really knowing
where housing might come from has been the existence for Mr. Northam for
many years now, and he's always managed to build an impressively
cohesive body of work through composition, performance, and exhibition.
The Automnal 2003 disc was originally a self-published CD-R which
Northam gave to his friends and colleagues as a testament to the benefits,
joys, trials, and failures to his chosen lifestyle. During the 24 months
between August 2001 and the autumn of 2003, Northam picked up and
moved his studio 13 times across Europe and North America; and the three
extended tracks on Automnal represent three particular places along that
journey. The first track opens with a glassy drone of sustained string
vibration which sound remarkably like the more pastoral tones of Phill
Niblock. Aquatic rumblings and fluttering patterns emerge as complementary
elements to the Northam's droning infinitude that aptly fits Northam's
geographical subject, a glacier on the Switzerland / France border. The
second track is my favorite piece that Northam has created to date. With a
gaping low-end drone beautifully stacked with what seem to be choral
harmonics built from the environmental recordings of crickets near a stream,
Northam offers a breathtaking, nocturnal piece of activated ambience much
like Zoviet France's Shadow Thief Of The Sun or Gas' Konigsforst minus the
motorik rhythm, of course. For the finale of Automnal 2003, Northam
presents a sinewy vibrational hypnosis that's quite similar in frequency to the
first track, yet he manages to dislocate the bleary ambience with a
subcutaneous stream of crackle and static. A wonderful record!
E / I  (September 2007)
Automnal 2003 is a testimony of Michael Northam’s nomadic life, which has
seen to it that he relocate thirteen times between the moments book ending
2001 and 2003. The three extended tracks that surface here represent three
distinct junctures along that journey, a glacier along the Switzerland/ France
border, crickets captured from Eagle Creek in IIndianapolis, and an
assortment of sounds taken from what sounds like a walk in the woods of Ils
Grosbois, Montreal, respectively. With the first selection, plangent notes and
long string resonance evoke both a peaceful meditation and an underlying
restlessness that is indicative of the work on a whole. Successive pieces,
though marked by long stretches of slowly evolving sounds, are thereby of a
more questing rather than simply soothing disposition. From the beginning,
compositions are texturally sophisticated and diverse in mood, but as the
album ages, it continuously moves away from lengthier passages of slow-
moving, more or less constant sounds, towards pieces that are stringent
and rigid. Along the way, the switching of angles and perspectives are
significant yet ingenuous, dynamic yet immediately involving. Accordingly,
pleasure is had in witnessing so many percolating details get swamped in
the low swelling of the pieces, a certain pleasure in being taken over and
giving into absence. Indeed, the relentlessness of Northam’s approach all
but ensures that one will give in, be it immediately or over a certain period of
time. The final work, for instance, being characterized by intense internal
arguments and clashing directions, encourages quick submission, and the
varying degrees to which this is the case in other works only adds to the
album’s appeal. It’s a venture that the mind enjoys, then, but of which the
body eventually grows tired. A challenge, certainly, yet this document exhibits
an impressive variety of states—both of the garden-variety and those of a
more specific nature—which no doubt colored Northam’s time over the
course of his travels.  (Max Schaefer)