2022 After Black Pond

“Allen Fisher’s Black Pond began as a response to a particular site: a rare raised peat bog at Waun Ddu in Wales. (Peat has a remarkable capacity for absorbing CO2, and the climate crisis is a thread within the poem.) I visited Waun Ddu in March 2020, just before Covid restrictions were imposed. I made various recordings there, using conventional mics, contact mics and a hydrophone. These sounds became the building blocks for the composition. In structure, the piece is organised around various repeating acoustic motifs in Fisher’s poem. These are placed within nine cells that mirror the shape of both the poem and the Feldman score. The result, After Black Pond, is not an audio translation or setting of the poem, but a work that is both after Fisher and – at a greater distance – after Feldman.”



2022 Inoculate Me (with Carol Watts)

Inoculate Me , the inaugural release on the Selvageflame Bandcamp label, brings together three collaborations between Will Montgomery and Carol Watts. Each was arrived at in a different way. With Mother Blake, voice recording and text – which draws on Blake, Eva Hesse and Pina Bausch – preceded Will’s audio. For T.R.E.E. (Total Rare Earth Elements), the text, generated by pencil drawings, followed the sounds. These were derived from woodland recordings made in and around London. With Pitch, which reacts to the work of Luigi Nono and Paolo Virno’s notion of an ‘accustomed place’, text and audio emerged in parallel. All three share an interest in immune response: what it means to take in a damaged world, ‘kicked in to harm/ & lightness’.



2020 Lubender (contribution to Amplify 2020 festival)

“While on holiday in the west of England in the last week of July 2020, I gained access to a pipe organ in a former Methodist chapel. The feeling of airiness in this high-ceilinged space after months of lockdown in a small London flat was uplifting. It was enhanced by the sound of air rushing through the pipes of the instrument. I set up mics close to the organ and high up at the back of the room, and made some recordings. Lubender is the result.”



2018 Trichromatic Moiré

Trichromatic Moiré, a double CD featuring interpretations of a graphic score by Thomas Martin Nutt is released by Sonic Arts Unit (Saru) at Oxford Brookes. Contributors include Tetuzi Akiyama, Harriet Butler,Sarah Hennies, Ryu Hankil, Ko Ishikawa, David Lacey, Sally Ann McIntyre, Will Montgomery, Joseph
Clayton Mills, Shirley Pegna, Rie Nakajima & Marie Roux, Samuel Rodgers, Lo Wie, and Keiko Yamamoto. Will’s contribution is built from recordings made over several months from a bench in a London park.



2017 Proposal 6



This score by Ryoko Akama was composed for Will in 2016. It features a writing-through of a text by Susan Howe, plus graphic elements. Will’s version of the piece uses electronics and piano and runs to 27 minutes. It is released on the US label Suppedaneum, along with Joseph Clayton Mills‘s version of Akama’s Proposal 7. The CDR is accompanied by the scores and notes, and it comes in a wooden veneer envelope.



 2017 Project for Heathrow SquattersIMG_3978

This piece was inspired by John Cage’s late work Project for Hanau Squatters, written in support of a group of anarchist squatters in the German town of Hanau. The score calls for field recordings to be made around the town on days and at times determined by chance. Will’s piece layers many recordings made at the protest site Grow Heathrow in January 2017. The work, which is designed for five-speaker playback, was presented at Queen Mary and Royal Holloway events in April and May 2017.



2015 The crystal at the lipst29

CD featuring two field-recording-based pieces. The first is a simultaneous realisation of two text scores by Manfred Werder, the second a treated location recording. Artwork by Sarah Hughes. Mastered by Robert Curgenven. Available from Organized Music from Thessaloniki.


Will Montgomery: The Crystal at the Lips

Will Montgomery is a London-based writer and sound artist, and his new album The Crystal at the Lips neatly scoops up ideas introduced earlier in this column. Two scores by the Wandelweiser composer Manfred Werder – text scores, words as provocations to make sounds – are overlaid, Werder’s instructions leading Montgomery to mix and juxtapose field recordings. Elsewhere, Montgomery filters out the ambient backdrop, leaving loops of feedback underneath.

Philip Thomas, ‘The playlist: experimental – Edgard Varèse, William Basinski, Will Montgomery and more’, the Guardian, 14 July 2015


Will Montgomery is a London-based maker of music, sound art, and field recordings, often using the latter to create compositions that explore aural texture and narrative. His first release for the label Organized Music From Thessaloniki consists of two tracks, the first of which is a realisation of two scores by Manfred Werder. Werder’s text-based scores frequently direct the performer to pay attention to and make use of the sounds of a particular place or places (see the series of realisations of ‘2005/1’ gathered by Another Timbre , for example), and Montgomery’s take on ‘2012(2)’ and ‘2012(4)’ makes a number of audibly different places palpable.

When trying to guess which sounds belong to which location, which ones were recorded ‘in situ’ and which were added later, things become less clear. As far as I can tell, there are two single-take field recordings, one seemingly rural and the other urban, one for each score. There are also other sounds that may belong to one of the recordings or may have been added later. Two features are particularly ambiguous: a patina of electrical fuzz, like the noise made by loose wiring in audio equipment, and a voice, presumably Montgomery’s, that repeats a nonsense word from the middle of the first score to the middle of the second. Both of these sounds connect the two Werder scores and announce the presence of the performer; the voice also marks the passing of time at a steady tempo, a function echoed by the high-heeled footsteps in the second score.

Second track ‘Filtrate’ takes a piece by label curator Kostis Kilymis incorporating field recordings and electronic tones and radically filters it so that only intermittent bursts of sound are heard. The original material is distilled and crystallised into something quite different: high ringing, low rumbles, and much silence. Something about the ‘roughness’ and complexity of the sounds hints at an origin in field recordings, but I found it very hard to discern this context prior to reading the album description on the label’s website. It is as if the initial work had been erased to leave only vague traces, like Robert Rauschenberg’s erasure of a Willem de Kooning drawing. (Interestingly enough, Vanessa Rossetto has contributed a piece along similar lines to the Experimental Music Yearbook, calling it after Rauschenberg’s work.)

Both tracks on “The crystal at the lips” evade and elude description in different ways, causing standard identifiers such as original and derivation, piece and score, and location and imposition to break down. Both are ways of getting pleasurably lost. Montgomery has produced an album that is both conceptually and aesthetically beguiling, encompassing the rigour and complexity of a contemporary sound practice in which field recording is only one movement in the sensuous unfurling of a place of thought.

Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio, August 2015


Over the years I didn’t review a lot of music by Will Montgomery, despite his releases on Entr’acte, Winds Measure, Every Contact Leaves A Tree, Cathnor and nonvisualobjects. In fact only a release from the latter I found in my database, and that’s from a long time ago, Vital Weekly 632. At one point, even much longer ago, he was a member of Cosmonauts Hail Satan [note: this is untrue, WM]. On his new CD he has two pieces, which are almost of the same length. In the first he performs two scores by Wandelweiser composer Manfred Werder at the same time. Wandelweiser composers include Antoine Beuger and Burkhard Schlothauer (both are also founders of the group) but also Michael Pisaro and Radu Malfatti, among many others. In general their pieces are very quiet, taking a cue from Cage’s ‘4’33’. In ‘2012(2) And 2012(4)’ by Manfred Werder, in which the score is a series of words, Montgomery selects field recordings and mumbling of words. It starts out quiet but slowly amasses more sounds and it becomes a multi-layered (super imposed is no doubt the word these composers use) play of outdoor sounds and poetic mumbling. It’s not so much a narrative as well as a stream of the unconsciousness and makes up a very refined piece of field recordings. In ‘Filtrate’, Montgomery processes a location recording made by Kostis Kilymis ‘that blended acoustic feedback tines with the ambient sounds at hand. Montgomery proceeds to strip away ambient elements in the recording and to emphasise the presence of human intervention in the arcs of the feedback that appear’. I must admit I have no clear picture of how that works exactly; I do however know it sounds very good. Here too we have certain refinement in the piece, even when it is of an entirely different nature than the other one; it’s not a work of shifting sine wave like sounds, even when it seems so from time to time; it seems to have much more tranquillity, with moments of quietness thrown in between . It is a highly sparse piece of music and as such it works really well.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, September 2015



2014 R-ARK38

A reinterpretation of the poet Ronald Johnson’s electroacoustic composition ARK 38. Will’s R-ARK38 formed part of Writing Sound 2, an exhibition curated by Daniela Cascella that ran from 20 November to 14 December 2014 at the Lydgalleriet in Bergen in Norway.





2014 Thames Water LiveReal-As-Any-Place-Youve-Been-Photographic-Paper-120x120-square-x-100

A live performance of Thames Water, recorded at a Bang the Bore gig in Southampton in 2012, is available as a CDR and download from Every Contact Leaves a Trace. The piece is paired with a solo bass performance by Dominic Lash.


Dominic Lash/Will Montgomery – Real As Any Place You’ve Been/Thames Water Live

A shared disc, one piece each by Lash and Montgomery.

Lash’s work is a strange construction, kind of awkward and compelling at once. It begins with a fairly thick blanket of interior chatter into which soon enters what sounds to me like a male chorus performing some pre-Baroque (British?) composition. This lasts for two minutes when the music abruptly shifts to solo acoustic bass (all bowed), though one can hear vague room sounds. It’s a complex performance, not always so easy on these ears (not a bad thing, of course), Lash making cloudy, grainy allusions to, perhaps, Irish string traditions (at least, I seem to hear as much, especially at about the five minute mark), but also veering well to the left of that. Most of the music is in the mid-range, with a few plumbings of the bass’ depth and the sound is constant, at a strong enough volume; no Wandelweiseriana here. Sometimes, I get a sense of lost focus, other times of an incisive zooming in on things. Like I said, complicated. Then, after some 19 minutes plus, we hear, more or less, an empty room during which sound cuts out completely, for a split second, a few times. Perhaps it’s the same room as before, after everyone’s gone home; you can just about make out sounds of kitchen clean up in the distance as a electronic hum waxes and then ceases in a flash. A bookend of sorts.

“Thames Water Live” also has a structure, though less apparent. To some degree, maybe entirely, the first section is made up of water sounds, though greatly processed (I think. I’m often at a loss as to the source of sounds like this). As in the Lash work, there’s a break at about two minutes, then a rush of multilayered burbles and gurgles. Scenes come and go, here overtly aqueous, there less so, all of the time a joy to the ears. Montgomery has a fine way of coaxing endlessly rich and fascinating activity from his sources. There’s a cessation of one stream about 14 minutes in and, when things resume, we’re in a very different space, harshly whistling and rumbling, still with the presence of heavy water beneath. Hollow taps and strong static-like elements begin to predominate, though again the sound filed is spacious. Static to raindrops, back again, somehow morphing into bass growls–confusing and beautiful.

Subtly challenging work from both, good stuff.

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside blog

Dominic Lash, after an initial blur of bar chatter, pushes his double bass dramatically to its sinewy and visceral limits. Wire contributor Will Montgomery takes a dip into the Thames river, retrieving a vivid mix of pebbly trickling, mudlark squelchiness, metallic flashes, sizzling currents and shadowy rumbling.

Julian Cowley, The Wire (full review of the ECLaT series here)



2013 Manfred Werder’s 2005 (1)  P1050412

Will’s version of Manfred Werder’s celebrated piece is available for download, along with many other interpretations of 2005 (1), on the Another Timbre website. The English version of the score reads:





Will actualised the piece on a calm day in June 2013 at Aarhus harbour in Denmark – an industrial container port.




2012 “Heygate”

“Heygate”, a composition that forms part of Will’s Elephant project (see below), is released on Winds Measure – a  white-vinyl 12″ with  a track, ‘Looking for narratives on small islands’, by Robert Curgenven on the other side. Will’s track is made from sounds sourced in and around the Heygate estate in the Elephant and Castle area of south London. The estate, finished in 1974, is a high-profile relic of Southwark Council’s vigorous housing construction programme in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now almost empty and facing demolition, it is to be replaced by a private development. The composition, which uses processed field recordings and material gathered with contact mics, a VLF receiver and telephone pick-up coil, seeks to present an encryption of the acoustic environment of the estate. In this way, it aims to recover the ethic of renewal buried deep in the contours of this very late example of local-authority modernism.

An excerpt from an article on this project published by the urban studies journal City is here.

The record can be bought from Winds Measure (US) or from Robert’s site, Recorded Fields (UK & EU).

An audiovisual version can be viewed here.


Several reviews of the release can be read at the Winds Measure reviews page here.

2010 Manfred Werder realised by Will Montgomery

This project is Will’s version of a score by Manfred Werder, 2009 (5). Will made two recordings of the M25 motorway, a year apart, and uses these as an interpretation of the single sentence by Francis Ponge that constitutes Werder’s score:

2009 (5)

Il existe, dans une maison que je connais bien, à Remoulins, une cour intérieure, et une autre, au Grau du Roi, chacune {habitée | , ornée} d’un ou deux figuiers.

There is, in a house I know well, at Remoulins, an interior courtyard, and another, at Le Grau du Roi, each one {inhabited | , adorned} by one or two fig trees.

Francis Ponge: Comme une figue de paroles et pourquoi
(Les Fleurys, nuit du 31 mars au 1er avril 1958), 1977.

The CDR is released by Cathnor as part of the label’s Vignettes series.

2007-2012 Elephant

This project explores the architecture and acoustics of the Elephant and Castle area of south London. An essay, initially published in Painted/ Spoken, is here. An online exhibit on hanging, utopia, pop and shopping is here. Will discussed the area with Owen Hatherley and presented an audio piece at the South Bank Centre as part of the 2010 Ether Festival. A vinyl release is forthcoming on Winds Measure.


2010 Viaducts

A piece composed of recordings made in and around the Victorian viaducts near Waterloo station. At Nanomajority.

2009 Thames Water

Made from hydrophone recordings on the south bank of the Thames. At Compost & Height.

2009 Legend [with Brian Marley]

CD containing 10 electronic treatments of a reading by Brian Marley. Marley’s text is a response to a photograph of an empty cabinet taken by Rhodri Davies. Released by Entr’acte.

Extracts from reviews:

Montgomery tackles the material with technical proficiency and utmost control, transforming rather anaemic sonic bodies into delicate fluorescence, sympathetic quivering and coordinated hovering: subtly or evidently, this is music that affects the person who stands and accepts its consequence. The album is closed by a filtered audio snapshot of the empty room in which Marley’s rendition firstly happened, the ominously hollow whisper of the container equally gratifying to appreciate in respectful immobility. Classy stuff, all the more appropriate given the unbearably grey, low-pressure afternoon in which the listening sessions are taking place.

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

Marley’s speech was obliterated by its own activation, in concept before the words hit the microphone. What we hear are digitally restructured sounds, some tamer in activity and attack than others, with each track containing the slightest fragments of the one before or after. The voice is manipulated through processing, treated, re-treated, and mastered. Ten times, 3’52” each. And there’s nothing careless about it. Montgomery could have abandoned form altogether, but he’s given us something suitably mellow, each track undergoing its own indiscriminate evolution.

Alan Jones, Bagatellen

Without clarification, one would be hard pressed to know upon listening to the material that Marley’s voice acts as source material, given Montgomery’s radical transformations. Some faint trace of the human voice emerges in the fourth and fifth [tracks] but the variations essentially come across as economical electrical drone pieces somewhat reminiscent of the work Stephan Mathieu has produced. Glassy tonal streams whistle and shimmer in a style that’s more placid than aggressive, and at times (e.g. the tenth track) the material evokes the peaceful micro-activity of a digital pond; overall, the release holds one’s attention, especially when each carefully-designed piece is so compact.

Ron Schepper, Textura

2008 Submarine

A composition made from filtered recordings of an underground boiler room in south London. At Touch Radio.

2008 Non-collaboration [with Heribert Friedl]

CD of compositions made from treatments of an improvisation recorded by Heribert Friedl. Released by nonvisualobjects.

Extracts from reviews:

An album no one only faintly interested in Sound Art should miss.

Tobias Fischer,

For all the fragility and intimacy, [Montgomery’s] sounds are as hard and glistening as diamonds, and are as precisely worked and carefully set in rings of silence.

Dan Warburton, The Wire

Full of fascinating small details and lively invention, avoiding grandiloquence and, at the opposite extreme, the soporifics that can occur when microsound meets Ambient, this complex but unfussy electroacoustic music demands much of the listener. Ah, but the rewards, the rewards…

Brian Marley, Signal to Noise

2008 Wash

Headphone installation at the SNO gallery, Sydney. This features hydrophone recordings made on the south bank of the Thames. Extract archived at SNO.



2007 Split Chance/ essay extract

Audio composition and essay contributed to the book and 2CD Extract: Portraits of Soundartists. Published by nonvisualobjects.



2005 Water Blinks

CD of electronic compositions. Released on Selvageflame. Buy Water Blinks via PayPal below.

Extracts from reviews:

An assured and enjoyable collection of low-key experiments with rhythm and texture […] this is careful music that reveals its detail with attentive listening, particularly in the higher frequency range, where delicate, softly piercing tones dance around the stereo spectrum.

Keith Moliné, The Wire

Most electronica albums these days reveal their source influences within seconds of hitting the play button, but the most impressive thing about Water Blinks is that it manages to reference its influences discreetly. […] There’s a lot of information packed into each piece, and the way it unfolds is original, unexpected and convincing.

Dan Warburton,

Water Blinks has gradually crept into my consciousness and set up permanent camp there.

Brian Marley

In Montgomery’s music, though there’s nothing as overt as intruding exterior sounds, there is an ineffable spatial sense imparted, definitely though elusively serving to place his pieces into an occupied space. […] There’s a […] juxtapositioning of tones with gently apposing grains, colors, degrees of brittleness or softness [and] each of the flowers has its own charming character. […] Without any elbowing at all, these pieces made themselves quite at home. Water Blinks is a fine release.

Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen

Buy Water Blinks via PayPal for £7 including postage and packing (flat rate worldwide) by clicking here: