Ross Manning is an installation artist exploring the kinetic interplay of light and sound. His sculptures are made of ordinary materials like plastic sheets and fluorescent bulbs that skitter and spiral, powered by mechanisms as simple as a belt attached to a ceiling fan. A musician as well, Manning is a former member of noise duo Faber Castell and Brisbane experimentalists Sky Needle, who make ‘primitive clunk’ on homemade or found ‘unstruments’. (His credits on Sky Needle records include ‘string panels’ and ‘electric dustpan’).
On 11 December, Manning will release a new solo work, Interlacing, via acclaimed experimental label Room40. Like the ambient compositions of label head Lawrence English, Manning’s music aims to reveal the strange flickers and frequencies usually buried at the peripheries of human attention. The songs on Interlacing shift unsteadily between the persistent thrum and squeal of electromagnetic-tape recordings and custom electronics, and the undulating, organic sounds of rope, driven by a slipstream, striking clock chimes and boards of nails.
‘Sinew & Cats’, the latest track to emerge from Interlacing, is piercing and dissonant. The sound moves from a needling electronic signal towards (as the title suggests) a kind of disembodied mewling. Though less tactile than previous single ‘Expand/Scatter’, with its random, percussive flourishes, ‘Sinew & Cats’ feels inherently spatial – like a sonar exploration of a dark, underwater cavern. See Manning’s visual interpretation below.