Andrew Yencken (1963) was born in Sydney and grew up in Hobart and Melbourne. Aside from his work in music and sound recording, art, design and photography remain strong creative interests. He is best known for his experimental works for radio and soundtracks for dance theatre.
After studying Film & TV at Swinburne he trained as a Landscape Architect, working briefly with Kevin Taylor and Greg Burgess Architects. In the late 1980s he helped publicise and promote multicultural music events in Melbourne, working with The Boite. In the meantime, his earliest sound art works (made on 4 track cassette and reel to reel recorders) were broadcast by Warren Burt at 3MBS in Melbourne. He also made pieces for student films and independent video documentary productions.
Early 1992 marked the beginning of an 10 year relationship with The Listening Room (ABC Radio’s Acoustic Art program) where, as a freelancer, he contributed a number of works which spanned across radiophonic, sound art, experimental and contemporary music forms. He also worked with a number of production units attached to the Audio Arts Unit, ABC Radio.
During the 1990s he also collaborated with artists working in dance and movement theatre namely; Anastasi Siotis, Sue Healey, Pierre Thibadeau, That Was Fast and Tasdance. For Tasdance he created soundtracks for Blue Cities (1994) Sam In A Pram (1995) and the original production of the award winning Thursday’s Fictions (1995). In this period he composed the soundtrack for the independent feature film Seeing Red (1991). All these projects feature the use of sampler technology and multitrack recording.
In 1993 he created his first major work for radio, Metamorphosis I. The work was the result of a winning submission to the The Listening Room’s Acoustic Art Competition (1992). Produced by Andrew McLennan the work was later included in the EBU’s Acoustic Art selection in 1994. A delicate array of location recordings, found sound, electronic atmospheres and musical textures take the listener through a series of natural and urban spaces and settings.
This was followed by Rust (independently produced) which was premiered by ORF’s Kunstradio in Vienna. Carousel Of Light – a darker and nightmarish sequel to Metamorphosis 1 – was completed in 1995. A collaboration with vocalist Carolyn Connors resulted in a work using voice and samples, Naked (1995).
In 1996 he created Digitations – an exploration of language sounds from Sydney’s multicultural communities – for WDR’s Studio Akustiche Kunst (Colonge).
Kephisos (1997), made with assistance from the Australia Council, is a collaboration with percussionist David Hewitt and artist / translator Karine Médecin. The work features edited improvisations using extended families of percussion instruments woven with voice (in French) and found sound; musical fragments from ancient Greek and Egyptian sources providing the initial inspiration.
He also produced a number of short works of musique concrète such as Balanço which first appeared on the Electroclips compilation from Emprientes Digitales (1997). Magnetic South (1998) is a tribute to the radio work of Glenn Gould and uses a “composed” documentary format. It features the voices of a Canadian family recounting Glenn Gould’s performances on TV. The work was part of the first Earshot project commissioned by TLR.
Moon-Lagoon-Light (1999) moves closer to experimental ambient music using manipulated percussion sounds and extensive electronic processing. Like many of his works for radio in the 90s it was produced on the Australian designed Fairlight MFX 2 / 3 , for it’s time a remarkably fast and powerful digital multitrack recorder and editor.
After travels in regional Brazil between 1999 -2000 he made Boats of Paper (2000) which uses Portuguese language sounds in a kind of radiophonic cabaret. This was followed by Before The Rain (2002) inspired by a sourjoun in Brasília in 2001. Ambiances captured in this tropical modernist city were mixed with music for classical guitar and prepared piano. This was his last work for The Listening Room. (The program was axed in 2003 after 15 remarkable years of broadcasting.)
Since 2003 he has composed a body of work for classical guitar as well as continuing with a number of experimental electronic music projects. Between 2004-2006 he collaborated with producer and bass player Jeremy Alsop, classical guitarist Leonard Grigoryan and Russian violinist Igor Oskolkov.
In 2009 he qualified as an Audiovisual Archivist (CSU) while consulting on IT and multimedia communications for design-based business. In 2010 he was on the organising committee for the ASRA Conference “Outside The Circle”, held at the State Library of Victoria.
His current work draws on a broad palette of acoustic and electronic sound sources that are shaped using a variety of digital and analogue processing and software editing techniques.
Since 2012 projects have included research into urban noise in industrial, commercial and residential areas as well as podcast production (internet radio). He is currently developing custom libraries using sounds collected along the edges of Port Phillip Bay.
Updated: February 2016