Wóma is the moniker of UK sound-artist and composer, Arran Poole, who creates improvised drone music using a sound-sculpture-come-musical instrument called a bow chime – essentially a large, bowed sheet of stainless steel. This collection of improvisations were recorded over the space of about a week in March 2016, aiming to explore the acoustic qualities of steel in harmony; hence the title, Drán & Ongalnes, which are Old English words meaning drone and voice.
The improvisations variously combine primitive, voice-like sounds, almost reminiscent of chant or even whale-song, with deep, resonating waves of sound. What results is a sometimes harmonic, sometimes dissonant tangle of microtonal layers of sound; although the bow chime is tuned to play particular pitches, its tuning is never precise or exact and, as though it’s fighting against being controlled, its tones almost always favour the resonant frequencies of the steel. There exists, then, a kind of precarious mastery, on the part of the performer, over the acoustic properties of the steel; one in which nature and physics threaten to overthrow order and plunge the instrument’s sound back into a sort of raw, unordered and uncontrolled state. This is music that sits on the very edge of order, music that teeters on the brink of collapse, or, in extremis, threatens an anarchic return to cacophony and noise.
Accompanying the cassette is a tri-fold insert designed by visual artist Áine Belton, which was inspired by the improvisations.
SAC #031: Wóma – Drán & Ongalnes