Mikhail Karikis + Uriel Orlow – Sounds From Beneath

Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa, Book+DVD, ISBN: 978095 5736117, SR314, 2011
Treating sound as memory and involving a number of different professionals can achieve the most interesting results. “Sounds From Beneath” is the result of the collaboration between composer Mikhail Karikis and visual artist Uriel Orlow on a project exploring the sounds of coal mines and their memory in the British community. This release includes the video the two produced together and a pamphlet with four essays and some remarkable photographs. The video is absolutely central and its realization started with Karikis working for six months on a choral piece. The piece was created with an ex-miners’ choir (Snowdown Colliery Welfare Male Voice Choir) whom he asked to “remember and sing the subterranean sounds they used to hear inside the coal mines.” Instead of depicting a usual post-industrial scenario, the authors placed the choir open air, near an abandoned coal mine with the surrounding buildings. The chanted sounds (explosions, cuttings, scratchings) are performed by these now old men, engaging with the resonances of their lost subterranean world. There’s no historical footage – everything is left to the viewer’s imagination – but the real people, the sudden changes of perspectives, and especially the sounds evocatively depict the scene, with no further elements needed. Here the voice shapes actions and politics from the past and the community represents itself in a landscape which is going to lose its memory, as they will, in the end.