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edu comelles

Sínia / Noria / Azenha


Guitar Amp, Bass Amp, Cables and ropes.
Variable dimensions.

This work has been commissioned by Lisboa Soa Festival 2018. Curated by Raquel Castro and featured at the Mae d'Agua (Amoreiras, Lisboa) between the 20th and 23rd of September 2018.

Sínia in catalan, is the given name for a noria, a wheel-like machine used for lifting water into a small aqueduct or for the purpose of irrigation. This installation inserts the rusted sound of this abandoned and derelict rural hydraulic engine into the Casa de Registo. 

The idea is to bring into the hall the resulting soundscape of a long-gone technology that has lost its usage: bring water up from a well. The iron, metallic sweeps and intricate rusted sounds are the voice of antique water culture long forgotten. All sounds have been recorded in various sessions since 2012, through the years, the sound of the noria is always changing and evolving, depending on humidity, climate and anual seasons. 

The outcome is a generative and ever-changing soundscape composition that resonates into the Casa de Registo as a litany or a requiem. Sound is placed in the space through two big speakers suspended in mid-air hanging from a metal structure drawing in the space a complicity through materials, sounds and media.


How it sounds like:

The recordings were made from three different spots in the room. One from the above where the speakers stand and another one from below, from the tunnel that goes along the exhibition space (check pictures on the website for more details). Finally the third recording features an excerpt of the Lukas Kunhe soundwalk that happen to pass by through the installation space and into the Galeria do Loreto that strives under the city for 1 km.




Sínia. (2013 original piece).
Site-Specific Sound Improvisation / Composition.

Finalist at the European Acoustic Heritage Contest 2013.


Sínia or Sènia, in catalan, is the given name for a noria, a wheel-like machine used for lifting water into a small aqueduct or for the purpose of irrigation. It consist on a vertical iron wheel with a chain of buckets attached to it. Norias used to be driven by animals, turning another wheel to make the vertical one to spin, and therefore lifting the water. On the outskirts of Torredembarra (Tarragona) there is a substantial concentration of those water machines, probably due to a underground aquifer that supplied water for the agriculture fields around. Those machines that were used on the past, now a days are out of order and even abandoned, allowing the iron to rust as time goes by.

The local government has put some effort on keeping it or even restoring it, still those water constructions are just a witness of local agriculture now gone. A sound that used to shape countryside water soundscape in the Tarragona region is now gone after years of implementing big and ambitious hydraulic plans bringing water from hundreds of miles away. This piece is based on the idea of making the rusted iron wheel to work again. The piece is a recording of a sound improvisation performed spinning the wheel. The outcome is a sound piece that evokes the long gone sound of the noria by using it again, without water and without animal traction, anything but an aesthetic exercise as purpose.

This site specific sound composition has been presented as a live perfomance three times. First time was presented at Plutó in Valencia and performed live with cellist Sara Galán. Second time the piece was presented at Matadero Madrid in January 2013 and finally a third time at Caleidoscopi in Barcelona. This works is going to be a part of Cello + laptop upcoming album and will be performed live in the future by Comelles as a solo piece or with cellist Sara Galán. The work has also been broadcasted in various acousmatic events organised by EAH in Helsinki, Finland.

Another version of the composition appears on "A Country Falling Apart" album by Edu Comelles published in 2013 at Audiotalaia. Also the "Segments" release by Cello + Laptop on Audiotalaia features the following video documenting a site-specific live improvisation with cello played by Sara Galán.

Live concert review (in catalan):

l’Edu Comelles, qui normalment treballa a partir d’enregistraments de camp, aquesta vegada va utilitzar àudios presos d’una “noria”, segons el mateix va descriure abans de començar. Barrejava diferents materials per crear textures contrastants a vegades harmòniques i a vegades més rítmiques.
Jo personalment no podia parar d’imaginar engranatges i friccions de metalls que produïen aquests grinyols tan melòdics, i alhora no podia parar de preguntar-me si la peça tindria sentit si no sabés d’on venien aquests sons.

Però això no és alguna cosa que se m’hagi acudit a mi per primera vegada; ja ho pensava Pierre Schaeffer quan gravava sons i els repetia infinites vegades fins que perdien la seva connexió amb l’objecte que els produïa. Crec que en aquesta època (50s) gravar i transformar sons prenia una altra dimensió en aconseguir sonoritats úniques sortides de context, però crec que amb tants avanços tecnològics és possible produir (o reproduir) gairebé qualsevol so imaginable, llavors he arribat a la conclusió que l’Edu en el seu concert no tenia més opció que lligar novament el so a l’objecte, perquè fóssim nosaltres els qui féssim aquesta unió o separació entre so-objecte.

By: Lina Bautista,