Sent from my Telephone



Liam Murphy

November 4, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

A behemoth consisting of spoken word messages, poetry and surreal mumblings laid out carefully over disjointed and divergent instrumentals

Crafting an album or an EP is a mammoth task, regardless of its length. Creating unique tracks that also have a sense of confluence; a collection of music that is more than the sum of its parts.

With this being the case, one can only imagine how a project like Sent from my Telephone comes together. Released by VOICE ACTOR – a partnership composed of Noa Kurzweil and Levi Lanser – the release is a dizzying 109 tracks long. Though some of these tracks dip below or around the one-minute mark, any compromises like this wither away when comprehending that number of tracks. 109.

The premise of Sent from my Telephone certainly helps. Filled with spoken diary entries, surreal poetry, recognisable samples and loose melodic ideas, the release takes the form of a frayed digital notebook, the contents of which range from banal to bizarre. 

Battling Dust provides a good example of the more musical excursions housed on the album, with producer Val Clipp providing a jazzy instrumental with a hip hop vocal reloaded repeatedly. There is a feeling of foreboding from the cool bells, combined with Noa Kurzweil’s sultry vocal performance. One can get a good indication of the slight sense of mystery that exudes from Sent from my Telephone in general. Everything is place just a little bit further away than one would expect, adding to the rough diary style, but also making for a slightly uncomfortable atmosphere

VOICE ACTOR also delight in the surreal. Tracks like Beautiful Burglar and Camden expertly weave an abstract energy, allowing for altogether eerie stories to be told in an engaging voice with qualities admittedly not too far away from ASMR. The latter track describes a particularly strange experience that – for all intents and purposes – the listener is led to believe is anecdotal. The narrator is slapped hard across the face by a random individual while waiting on a crowded, stalled bus in Camden, UK. This story is told with the backdrop of truly sinister bass mumblings and disjointed percussive moments. From here, the instrumentation veers off into a collection of disembodied vocal samples as the image of a helicopter placed in the middle of a London street is described, the narrator reassuring the listener that she and her friend continued their journey through Camden to Notting Hill Carnival, closing with the line: “That was a fun day”, with an empty tone with all the ambiguous strangeness a Blue Jam sketch. 

The runtime of the project allows VOICE ACTOR to indulge in some meta music-making too. Peppered throughout Sent from my Telephone are voice notes wondering if the receiver had “heard the track” that was sent. There are even cuts in which our narrator questions the validity of an unnamed project that the listener can only assume is Sent from my Telephone itself, or a previous project. Buying the Block finds our narrator mulling over making a cassette, wondering whether to use all the songs that have been made. The background starts with earnest string chords with a random comical voice interjecting but switches up suddenly to muddy euphoric pads, our narrator’s voice delving into the rigmarole of cassette making. 

Kaart 4 welcomes the listener into a track that attempts to dive right into the heart of the song-making process. The narrator thrashes about in an existential purgatory, wanting the track they are making to be affected by their journey home and vice versa. “The music sets the mood and the mood sets the music. I am facing backwards, rewinding myself back home.” From incredible passages like this, the listener can sense that they walk along with the artists on the album, exploring a creative space that can be desolate, contradictory and frustrating. The instrumental is an incessant broken loop of foreboding shrouded notes and juddering words. 

The diary entry songs and surreal excursions are combined on tracks like HNY2. “It’s been a bad year for a lot of people,” the narrator says, recording a striking voice note at the passing of 2021. Echoed chanting voices push past a lifeless dial tone, though our narrator speaks in a candid and even animated manner. Something doesn’t add up. 

There are even dramatic monologues included. Like in the short-lived Love, where the listener hears a one-sided conversation involving the offering of something to someone else, the gifting person insisting that whatever is changing hands is replaceable. All the while, the four-letter title is glossed over the top of the scene in a clearly enunciating tone.

Though the subject matter is often broken, fractured and remote, the frantic spirit of the narrator is engaging and ultimately likeable throughout. There’s a certain comedy in the quick movements from austere to quaint. For every moment that the listener feels distant, out-of-the-loop or even intimidated, there is a moment where they feel held close and perceived. From the spewing stream of consciousness of THE GREET to the pondering on whether one can have croissants for dinner on Calculated Reactive Space. There’s a real humanity enshrined in it that many will relate to as they themselves move through a surreal world.

Throughout the release, the phone – as a concept and as an object – is held closely. It is the integral vessel that the narrator spews thoughts, messages and poetry into. It is the instrument they use to capture moments from the outside world as well and it is, of course, featured in the name of the project as a whole.

A loose ambient collage with a bewildering length similar to that of an ancient tapestry, Sent from my Telephone is truly a striking achievement. With an avant-garde approach to the instrumentation, a fluid vibe is maintained throughout the runtime, allowing for diary-esque vocal excursions that go from personal to prosaic and everywhere in between.