Dante and Virgil pass through the Vestibule of Hell, hearing the screams of the Uncommitted, and reach the ferry across the river Acheron that will finally take them into Hell itself – today’s pieces from the Inferno project cover the Vestibule and Acheron, so let’s take a listen.
First up, Sherman and Field take us into the Vestibule:
“The work is a single-take room recording, improvised by candlelight after a storm featuring effects-drenched guitar, drone devices, beats and local-area field recordings. The intention was to capture the ominous feel of approaching the gates of hell and the abandonment of hope that commences the descent towards Lucifer… ”
Dinah Mullen took on the same area of Hell, and describes her approach like this:
Moving onto Acheron, one of the four rivers of Hell, Simon Woods gives us his piece, “Through the door”:
“The piece is made up of water sounds (courtesy of my bath and sink) along with synthesised bees / wasps / insects buzzing and voices of the ‘couldn’t care less’.
“The final earthquake is the sound of fireworks outside my house on Nov 5th 2020.”
Our second piece from Acheron is by Martha Riva Palacio Obón:
” As Teodolinda Barolini mentions in Commento Baroliniano, Inferno 3 occurs in a liminal space. A no-place for neutral angels and all those people who, paraphrasing Dante, never were really alive. The Acheron is the threshold. In this sound work I explore the boundaries between human – no human, silence, noise, order and chaos. A circular piece in which repetition allows me to reflect also about monotony and eternity.
The flow of time, a river. Stream of consciousness, history, myth, evolution…
“Tracing back Acheron’s source, I got to Sappho’s fragment 95:
but a kind of yearning has hold of me – to die
and look upon the dewy lotus banks of Acheron
“In this fragment, there’s also longing but no fear. I draw a line from Sappho to Dante, a braided river; but the concept of flow returns me also to the nature of sound itself. Another branch leads me to Salomé Voegelin. Sound is a fluid body that fills us with our own shape. Noise pins us down and leaves no space for imagining other posible worlds. We get lost in ourselves just as Dante does at the end of Inferno 3.
“In this sound work, I mix the recordings of my fridge, a rotary hammer in the street, and the wind blowing through a cable bridge with Tibetan tingshas and the chirping of crickets in different frequencies. The line between hellish and sublime harmonies is very thin. That’s how I evoke the choir of angels, the wailing, the buzz of the insects, the whirlwind and the river of sorrow. I start with Sappho’s lotus banks and finish with Dante’s Inferno.”