'Unfolding'
Soundtrack for
Future Beauty : 30 Years of Japanese Fashion
Barbican Art Gallery, London, Oct 2010 > Feb 2011

"From the very first garment, you get the sense that you are in an almost holy place - calm, cool,
and perfectly landscaped to show the clothes almost as sculpture or a physical manifestation of Zen thought.
You leave this exhibition elated and wanting more"

I was invited by curator Catherine Ince to compose a soundtrack to accompany the exhibition
Future Beauty which looks at the history of Japanese avant-garde high fashion since 1981.
The clothes and fabrics and exhibition design inspired me to create what is
rather abstractly described by me below!

 

Unfolding - By Janek Schaefer
Audiofile - audiOh! Recordings [audiOh!33]


dress design - Koji Tatsuno - 1993

Unfolding was inspired by the ephemeral unfurling fabric of fashion,
viewed through the vertical veils of the Future Beauty exhibition design.

The composition is made from 4 x 44 minute shifting loops spread out across four pairs
of speakers in the space, subtley shifting the sound textures and tones all around the different
levels and zones of the show. It forms an underscore for the work on display, weaving
them together, and suspending them in a sense of unfolding wonder!

In the exhibition space the volumes are set to a restrained level across the 8 speakers.

 

'Future Beauty' exhibition location and information here

 

 

 

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A 6 minute sister track called 'Unfolding Honey' will be released by ::Room40:: [Australia]
for their 10th anniversary CD compliation, Christmas 2010


dress design detail - Junya Watanabe - 2000

with thanks to Danny Lavie and his 7 year old daughter Mielle for their 'piano white notes'
improvisation that forms the hidden core of this track, and was originally performed as a
christmas greetings attachment in Tel Aviv 2006.

 

 

'UNFOLDING' SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS

 

Colin McDowell - fashion historian

From the very first garment, you get the sense that you are in an almost holy place - calm, cool and perfectly landscaped to show the clothes almost as sculpture or a physical manifestation of Zen thought. You leave this exhibition elated and wanting more.

 

Ambient Blog - [Peter van Cooten]

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition Future Beauty : 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Barbican (London), Janek Schaefer offers a 33 minute version of "Unfolding" - as a free download!

My advise: do not hesitate, and download it before the sendspace link runs out!

"Unfolding" offers a fascinating piece of drone music that slowly evolves (unfolds) to different views and environments. The scene changes almost unnoticed, but if you would skip through it the sound would be dramatically different. Slowly building feedback, environmental sounds of wind and water, slow orchestral loops (Basinski-style), unexpected hiss-chords - all perfectly fitting the basic drone.

Most long-form 'drone music' is not very easy to stay awake to. But that is no problem with "Unfolding", just because enough is happening to keep you alert, while at the same time the gentle calmness is never disturbed. To me, this is one of the most surprising drone music pieces I have heard recently.

And that is only the stereo mix....it must be absolutely immersive gorgeousness to hear it in the full surround 8 speaker environment it was originally created for.

"The composition is made from 4 x 44 minute shifting loops spread out across four pairs of speakers in the space, subtley shifting the sound textures and tones all around the different levels and zones of the show."

If anyone in or near London has the chance to visit this exposition: please report back about your experience!

 


MonsieurDelire.com - [François Couture]

Janek Schaefer just released a 30-minute track as a free download (link above), a stereo reduction of an eight-channel piece backing the exhibition “Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion”. A fine ambient work like Schaefer knows how to make them, discreetly animating the background of your life, though fascinating in its slow meanders when put under the aural microscope.
It’s free, don’t pass it up!

 

Touching Extremes - [Massimo Ricci]

Unfolding is a 33-minute marvel downloadable for free from the composer’s website. The title tells everything in a way, the music disclosing its magnificence instant by instant, gradually revealing veiled colours and magically ringing shades in a combination of suspended grace and affecting poignancy. Rare tangible insertions – such as the crunching (vinyl?) noise heard just before the halfway mark – vainly attempt to divert the mind from a complete state of nirvana-like illusion, made easier by the practical immobility of the harmonic structure, which remains more or less anchored to a single tonal centre. Yet the concluding minutes introduce a meshing of diverse surfaces in that sense, the consequence being a degree of awesome uncertainty. The track is obviously ideal as a commentary for the kind of setting for which it was designed; however, Schaefer’s talent in choosing the right permutations of merging sounds warrants a superb result also for sheer home listening, gifting the piece with an aural superiority that projects it miles beyond the “ambient” status. In two words, great stuff – as we always anticipate from this never enough lauded artist.

 


 

Crafts Council - [Henrietta Thompso]

The lower galleries have been transformed with translucent white drapes by exhibition designer Sou Fujimoto, and Janek Schaefer’s ethereal soundscape. It’s very serene and floaty – not perhaps conducive to herding people through a fashion education, but more in philosophical keeping with what constitutes Japanese design. The exhibition also shows why Japanese clothing is so often favoured by professional aesthetes and intellectuals, and just how poetic, considered and beautiful it can be.

 


 

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