Sonambient

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Sonambient is the name of a series of vinyl LP albums recorded, designed, produced and released by mid-century modern sculptor Harry Bertoia himself. Known for his architectural design as well as his sculptural-style art work.

In the later period of his career, he began to focus on sculpture that interacted with viewers and/or the elements, like the wind and weather, and as he built smaller pieces in his studio, he began to explore the ways in which the metal and other materials could be manipulated by hand to produce sound. By stretching, bending, striking, and in other ways moving the materials, he made them respond to wind and/or to touch to create different sounds or tones, which he then taught himself to "play", and recorded a series of pieces which he later released as this series of LPs. He also performed with the pieces in a number of concerts.[citation needed]

The LPs are very minimalist in design and very similar to (and perhaps even an influence on) the album design work of famous obscurantist musician Jandek. Each had a B&W cover of a photograph of one or more pieces of Bertoia's sculpture, often the one(s) used in the recording itself, or in one or two cases that of Bertoia "playing" one of the sculptures.

The backside of each LP was very simple and all followed exactly the same design, obviously influenced by mid-century modernism: a circle, positioned near the bottom left side, similar in style to a vinyl LP itself, including the spindle hole in the middle, with "SONAM" on the left and "BIENT" on the right (hence "SONAMBIENT") in a black background band, and "Side 1" above with the title of that side below, and "Side 2" below with the title of that side.

In the right-hand bottom was found a copy of Bertoia's signature, and lower near the corner the catalog number of each release, in the format "F/W 10xx" where xx started at 23 (F/W 1023) and ending the series at 32 (F/W 1032), for a total of 11 LPs issued. The 1970 LP "Bellissima, Bellissima, Bellissima / Nova" follows a slightly different cover scheme and employs a different catalog number (LPS 10570).

In the late 1990s his son, Val found a large collection of unopened original album sets[citation needed] stored away in one of the barns that he used for studio space on his property in Pennsylvania. These were sold as collector's items by Val, and fetched large sums. Four of the pieces, culled from three of the records, were reissued by a Japanese record label called "P.S.F. Records" entitled "Unfolding", after the names of one of the tracks on LP catalog #F/W 1024. The CD also has one track each from F/W #1025 and F/W #1032.

Info about the series, as well as the other LPs and the single CD release by P.S.F. Records in Japan can be found at the Discogs.com site. P.S.F. Records was supposed to release the entire series in CD format, but Bertoia's son has retained the rights to do so and has claimed he will be releasing the series on CD soon, although this claim has been made for close to ten years.[citation needed]

An 11-CD box set of all Harry Bertoia Sonambient recordings is set to be released in December, 2015 by Important Records [1]

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