Important Records has announced Sonambient – the complete collection of audio recordings by furniture designer and sound art sculptor Harry Bertoia.
In the late 1950’s, Bertoia (1915-1978), already a renowned American sculptor, began creating long-form, improvised pieces of music using pure acoustic tones evoked from his sound sculptures. Around this time Bertoia came up with the term “Sonambient” to describe the music and environment created by his tonal sculptures.
In a renovated barn on his property deep in the Pennsylvania woods, Bertoia recorded his sound experiments using 4 overhead microphones and a 1/4″ tape recorder. Bertoia dedicated the last twenty years of his life to his Sonambient work and in 1970 he released the first Sonambient LP. In 1978, in the final months of his life, he selected recordings from his archive and produced 10 more Sonambient records.
He would not live long enough to see or hear these records himself. Bertoia died in 1978, at age 63, and was buried beneath a giant gong behind his Sonabmient barn.
“I don’t hold onto terms like music and sculpture anymore. Those old distinctions have lost all their meaning,” noted Bertoia in 1976.
Harry Bertoia’s Complete Sonambient Collection features all 11 of Bertoia’s original records newly restored from their master tapes and housed in replica jackets. A heavy duty box, printed with metallic inks, holds the 11 discs as well as a 100 page book containing a lengthy historic essay, Smithsonian interview with Harry Bertoia, exclusive Sonambient era material from the Bertoia archive, modern and archival photos of the Bertoia barn as well as reflections on Bertoia from David Sefton, Tom Welsh, David Harrington (Kronos Quartet) and all three of Bertoia’s children.
Update: Via the comments, a reader notes that the Collection is available for about $20 less via Amazon.