Dale Gorfinkel

Switches and Hose
Split Records splitrec 25.

By Ken Waxman

Bringing out the innate musicality of already existing objects or locations, Australian musician Dale Gorfinkel invents novel instruments or judiciously inserts standard ones within unexpected environments. This brief CD offers four specific examples of his particular skills. A Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist, Gorfinkel is sophisticated in his use of the microtonal properties of trumpet and especially vibraphone.

“I’m walking in a room, with two vibraphones” for instance, not only riffs on Alvin Lucier's best-known composition but also captures the shimmering colors that result from Gorfinkel’s blending of vibes’ tonal rubs and strokes. These precise cross-overs and intersections are notable, since the wobbly tones are never precisely parallel. “Gong cage” is another superior indication of instrumental skill, as he uses mallets to quiver and wobble a modified Indonesian kinetic sound sculpture in a bird cage so that a vague Oriental lilt is added to gentle vibraphone-like insinuations. “Enoggera” shows how bubbling grace notes and moist burrs from a modified trumpet can integrate almost perfectly within genuine aviary song-making, without the horn losing its brass identity. Finally “Switches & Hose”, the lengthiest track, converts a foot pump, balloons, garden irrigation, taps, plastic containers and reeds into an Outback orchestra. The alternately soothing and discordant narrative spawns genuine musical patterns without ever negating the implements’ humble origins.

The fascinating part of Gorfinkel’s (sound) art is wondering – but not being able to determine – which part of the satisfying creation result from his sound navigation and how much is naturally generated.

—For MusicWorks #122 Summer 2015