Paul Nataraj is a sound artist and music researcher from Blackburn, Lancashire. His work explores musical materiality, memory, the personal stories attached to music, and how our relationship with listening and the listened to, changes over time. His work thinks about the rhizomatic connectivity of music and how the dialogue between times, places and spaces open fractures through which to listen differently to the everyday.
This work is an exploration of the tansitory points of listening and how they change and change us over time. Acts of listening and creating memory are in constant flux, non-fixed, making memory and identity formation is a dynamic, non-generic and labile process especially through traumatic times. It is the merging of spaces, places and objcects, it is skewed repetition, its is voices unremembered, fragile and moving, timbres rather than words, one sided conversation, echoes and the liminal intersections of dreams, percpetion, reality and emotion, it is not just one song. These memories coalesce around words, move across worlds and drift as people, either absent or present, add to the layers we accrue over time. They become the threads in the fabric of who we are and the practice of our everyday lives. Movements, re-tellings, gestures, and their concomittent sounds both recorded and transient, rest in these liminal spaces, and maybe that's where this should be heard.
"'Cobblestones and Kitchari' was written over a number of years and is dedicated to my Dad, Dr Vasu Nataraj. I started writing a couple of things just after he died in Jan 2013 and I came to realise that many of the pieces I was making after that time all contained some sonic elements that were related to him, or started with me thinking about him in some in way. So all the tracks included here are produced from sounds connected to my Dad. For example there are field recordings from numerous places in Blackburn, particularly Larkhill and Ewood, where he had his surgeries, but the sound of Blackburn underpins this work throughout. 90% of the tracks have tempos which are derived from his birthday, 1.5.46. I produced a broken record for my brother made from "The Adventures of the Great King Raam' by The Floating Stones, and carved with our eulogies and the Shanti Mantra which was read at my Dad's funeral by my Uncle Raju, and this also forms the basis of a couple of the tracks too. Recordings of my family also feature, made both here and in India, storytelling uncles and singing cousins. I have also made work from experimental turntable practices using records that my Dad liked such as Simply Red and Barbara Dickinson, and 'Please Don't Go' by Them which is one of the last songs I heard on the radio in the hospital before my Dad died. I also used no-input mixing and hand made tape loops on some the tracks, alongside more traditional digital sampling techniques. As with all my work however, all the samples have been given to me in one way or another by family members, shared via whatsapp, instagram posts, or gifted CDs, but all are connected to my family in some way. Many of the work also feature recordings of household objects from my parents’ house. For example my dad always had toothpicks on him and many of the percussion sounds were made by manipulating recordings of toothpicks. I also did contact mic recordings of the carpet in my parents’ house because I always remember sitting on the floor watching telly, and running my fingers through the carpet pile."
"The work is also set against the backdrop of my dad's immigration, being a trans-national family, growing up as a mixed race person in Blackburn through the 80s and 90s. The context of my Dad having the openness, strength and love to lead this mixed heritage family is an important part of the story."
released May 1, 2020
Featuring: Uncle Swaminath (7), Doug Livsey (8), Aruna Narayanswamy (13), David Boon (15) and additional mixing by Pete Bentley (15).
Artwork by Matt Littler / Badgewearer.