Originally released in 1986 on Rik Rue’s Pedestrian Tapes imprint, Murmurs is a pearl of Australian experimental composition begging to be salvaged once more.
Murmurs comprises a series of collaged vignettes hewn from field recordings of aquatic environments spread along various locales of the New South Wales coast. The ‘Two Short Adventures in Water’ pieces that open proceedings are Rue solo, and were also released the year previous via Pedestrian under his own name. They offer a great segue into the collaborative experiments with Fahey, resulting in the relatively brief ‘Sea’ and the side-spanning suite, Landside/Murmurs.
The hour-long cassette is stunning, even when considered from a spoiled-for-choice, modern listening perspective. The complex stereo environments woven by Rue and Shane Fahey demand repeated listens, the depth of sound offering one of the most accurate sensory experiences of immersion I have personally encountered. The attention to flowing, compositional detail rewarding the further you dive.
Although Fahey & Rue would unite in the same period under the Social Interiors banner (later to be joined also by Julian Knowles), this release is attributed to their own names. According to Fahey, these works can very much be considered as the origination point of the ensuing SI approach, as environmental field recordings would form the primary mode for the group going forward from this point.
Prior to Murmurs, Shane Fahey was a member of the singular Sydney experimental art-punk troupe, The Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast. He is a current member of long-running agitators, Scattered Order and his substantial studio engineering credits includes in its number the great early recordings by Kev Carmody.
Rik Rue’s own past as an important Australian experimental musician is much storied across his many releases, a great chunk of which appeared on his excellent Pedestrian Tapes imprint. His work, either solo or in collaboration, is somewhat under-appreciated for its radical inventiveness with tape manipulation and still sounds wildly modern now. - Altered States Tapes