Simon Whetham | UN AÑO TRANQUILO
"Throughout 2012 Simon Whetham embarked on a round the world tour, one man travelling across land, sea and air to gain new sensory-filled experiences.
"Un Año Tranquilo" is the result of Simon’s year-long journey; his adventure into, not only sonic landscapes, but also into an intensely personal experience, one that brings together emotion and empathy with place, though is not restricted to location.
A cavalcade of resonant objects, whirring portals, the squarks, clicks and rattles of birds and insects, the honks and snuffles of beasts, and the changeability and ultimate power of the weather, all punctuated by the hustle and bustle of Man and its technology—ancient (bells) and modern (phone rings)—sweep by, swirling the listener into a seemingly trance-like state, an out of body experience.
In this complex and diverse work, Simon has opened a window onto sound’s ability to link a listener to place (be that an earthly reality or an imagined place), as well as to separate us from the world, freeing the listener to explore a sensory imagination beyond sound.
Where possible, listen to this work in the dark—remove yourself from your own reality—and step into Simon’s care-worn shoes. Open yourself to a journey of the mind, your ears as compass…"
— Helen Frosi
Annea Lockwood | A SOUND MAP OF THE HOUSATONIC RIVER
"I am fascinated by the multi-layered complexity of the sounds created by fast flowing rivers and have been exploring them for many years. An aural scan is a different experience from a visual scan - more intimate, I find. The energy flow of a river can be sensed very directly through the sounds created by the friction between current and riverbanks, current and riverbed.
This is a sonic map tracing the course of the 224 km Housatonic River, from the sources in the Berkshire mountains of Western Massachusetts to the river’s mouth at Milford, Long Island Sound (Connecticut, USA), recorded both at the surface and underwater, not from boats but along the riverbank at many sites, thus mirroring the changing river-created environment. I recorded using a Sound Devices recorder, a Shure VP88 microphone and an Offshore Acoustics hydrophone very kindly lent to me by composer Maggi Payne. Processing is minimal: some equalization was applied in the quieter sites."
— Annea Lockwood
Scott Sherk | NEW YORK GLYPTIC
"I was walking through midtown Manhattan two days ago, listening to the great turbulence of the city with fresh ears, after listening to Scott Sherk’s ‘New York Glyptic’. Live, the foreground was sharp and full of variety, but fleeting, and this aspect of the city’s soundscape often dominates in audio portraits of New York. In Scott’s beautiful work street life arises, then dissolves into extended textures stretching the city, like bubble gum, then he snaps back into close focus and I once more hear the tremendous energy pouring from mouths and feet.
While walking, when my mind drifted and refocused on my schedule etc., the soundscape around me merged into a complex shifting hum, and I realized that for me, his portrait also oscillates between those two states, external openness and interiority. By the end, he has dissected and recaptured that multi-layered hum, which is like the air, omnipresent."
— Annea Lockwood
"Frédéric Nogray explores the world with the utmost care, he offers us here a sound diary of a trip in Honduras, oneiric yet so close to reality. In this skrinking environment, where someday the mangrove will be shattered by motorways, where the Garifunas people suffer and get rare, although they never endured slavery; indeed, we know it since Claude Lévy-Strauss hammered it into us: tropics are sad, and each time we come, we pare down their territory.
It is in a full awareness of this that Frédéric Nogray went there, as a heedful watcher of in situ species, he could roam before setting any microphone; therefore this disc is a condensate of this observation, a precious contemplation that graces our ears.
Rare moments are yielded, a fragile equilibrium between luxuriant life and transformation of life, where territory issues get solved by jaws. Frédéric Nogray works the soundscape as a gathering of many elements, birds and insects obviously, sometimes even mankind, as to recall us that there is hardly any place in this world free of sound pollution, but rather than ignore or reject it, he chooses to make it a true ingredient of his work, as to better sublime it's beauty, and fragility."
— Flavien Gillié
"With Buiti Binafin, I discovered a whole new dimension of the natural sounds that are part of my daily life in the village of Triunfo de la Cruz, home to the Garifuna people. It was a unique exploration of sounds and fine details that my bare ears cannot always capture empirically.
Frédéric Nogray's album zooms the melody of an intimate world that we both entered as silently as possible in search of these natural treasures. I must say, Buiti Binafin is a special opportunity to let the conquered sounds display their own form of art and uniqueness. Beauty and awareness go together as we visit a living universe captured in this original ensemble.
I'm grateful to Frédéric Nogray's wonderful idea to have come to the village where I'am conducting an anthropological research on the Garifuna spirituality. His project of eco acoustic recordings expanded my vision upon the place where I have been living, and gave me as well, a better understanding of the relationship between the Garifuna people and the natural world. A world, that is mainly feared for being not only the home of dangerous creatures, but also for being the cradle of threatening spiritual entities.
As an anthropologist, I undertake a great effort to be as close as possible to the indigenous exegesis. I shall say, this experience was a successful way of changing the perspective of my own vision of man and nature, allowing me to grasp clearly the existence of different ways to read the world around us.
Between mangroves and tropical forests, I have never felt so close to the heart of the earth."
— Marcella Perdomo
Michael Trommer | HTO
"The title 'HTO' is a reference to the chemical composition of water, as well as to Toronto's nickname of 'T.O.'.
The pieces on this album are composed of field recordings sourced from the city's urban waterfront, buried rivers and vanished shorelines.
The majority of urban Toronto rests on the bed of what was once Lake Iroquois - a large glacial lake that has become what is now Lake Ontario. Many rivers still run through the urban core, but have been buried in order to aid urban development; ventilation shafts, the remains of bridges and evidence of ancient portage trails still dot the city's landscape, serving as reminders of our geographical history.
Much of Toronto's present-day waterfront is landfill and extends almost 1km from the original shoreline; it is characterized by rapid urban development (at this time, the city has more high-rises under construction than any other city in North America, many of these being built along the lakefront), and the once extensive railway corridor - now shrinking to make room for large-scale condominium developments. Offshore from the downtown core, one finds Toronto Island, now mostly parkland, but dominated (both geographically and acoustically) on the western side by City Centre Airport. Further out is the Leslie Spit, an large (5km), man-made peninsular extension of the shoreline comprised of urban rubble and material excavated during the creation of the Toronto subway system. Though it is now a parkland, its shores are still being expanded and one can find all manner of urban detritus there, including the remains of demolished office towers and factories.
The pieces that comprise 'HTO' are meant as a sonic exploration of Toronto's water-related history. Many locations were revisited many times over the course of the last few years with a view to examining seasonal variations and the effects of urban expansion upon the soundscape. A particular focus has become the use of man-made resonant objects/spaces as well as the exploitation of the effect of the landscape - particularly open water and parkland - to emphasize their natural filtering effects upon the sound.
Audio was recorded using a variety of techniques and equipment, including contact, hydrophone, binaural, induction, and boundary microphones; extensive use of layering has been made in order to examine the sonic variations inherent in both the locations themselves as well as the contrasting recording techniques.
In some cases, the pieces were arranged 'live' in the locations where the field recordings were made - a direct response to the visual and acoustic environment."
— Michael Trommer
David Vélez | EL PÁJARO QUE ESCUCHA
"El Pájaro que Escucha is a beautifully crafted publication that brings together field recordings made in the Palomino region of Columbia in January 2012. The piece is alive with the sounds of wildlife, completely immersing the listener in a sonic landscape that has depth, variation and a subtle radiance that is a joy to experience.
At times we are also reminded of the invasive presence of human beings, with the drone of a light aircraft pervading the natural atmosphere. Velez demonstrates an acute awareness of the beauty found in the natural world, focusing primarily on the sounds of animals that call the rainforest home. El Pájaro que Escucha does not rush the listener, but rather encourages patience and an appreciation for the natural sounds of our planet. This is a stunning release of the highest calibre and comes highly recommended."
— Cheryl Tipp
"This work that David Vélez presents us …is a sense that David Vélez finds as exteriority, in the jungle of Palomino…what we listen are not birds singing, or the crickets squealing, or the leaves moving; it’s David who plays his tune through the birds and the crickets from the Palomino territory; he manages for the referred songbird to become an act of listen…
… David shares with us is a sensible experience, which consists in transform sound making into sound listening; and it is through the possibility of the recording that this experience is modulated to be accessible for us. Is through this mediation that the author makes audible something in the exterior, approaching the natural element to what is being heard by the human.
The act of listening is therefore, a transference of sense through the sonority of the environment, and in this case also a way to experience an environment by recording, ordering, modulating and presenting it in this way that David Vélez considered as the most appropriated.
“El pájaro que escucha” is a cultural approximation to the natural. There is no birdsongs without hearing and no acoustic experience without sensible language."
— Trixi Alina
Steve Roden | BERLIN FIELDS
"Berlin Fields is a sonic journey not limited by national boundaries, city limits, or material limitation. Roden perambulates, recording as he goes with the immediacy and quirks that come from using both portable recorder (a Sony PCM-D50) and phone. Exploring intuitively, Roden brings together 19 sonic vignettes via “finds”: things discovered; and “activation”: objects performed on site.
Using intuition as a guide, Roden's interactions and sonic interventions – “play” in every sense of the word – are both learning tool and platform for his creativity. Unearthing a vocabulary spoken by quotidian things, Roden coaxes tables, radiators, sardine tins and all manner of chanced upon paraphernalia into speaking their curious and complex language. Mindful of Rolf Julius' artistic philosophy, Roden introduces performances that sit congruently within, and do not disrupt, the sites he happens upon on during his travels through the capital cities of France, Germany and Finland.
The land- and cityscapes, formal architecture and informal spaces Roden explores act as host for his interventions. Instead of simply absorbing his bodily movements and thought process, such places create a consonant dialogue with his soundings, saturating their own particular sounds – indeed atmospheres – within Roden's wanderings.
Roden is both player and listener in a world sounding with music, and musical with sound. His actions are delicate insertions that proliferate: actions, soundings, reactions that spread into, echo, and synergise with the world. His performances activate the specific place, space and object with microscopic precision – the knowledge of a shaman. Ripples of tone singe the edges of a bird-filled landscape bestowing it a glowing aura; rhythmic motions on cavernous metal are “touched by hands”, jam jars are caressed across tables to intone chanting, a poetry of sorts. Such soundings act as a bridge, directly connecting body (and being) to location; a marker for experience.
What is evident in Berlin Fields, is that Roden respects the sonic world around him. He is playful, mischievous perhaps, but most of all he listens with the ears of the ancient, the sacred. His motivation, simply, is to work with situations and sounds that move him – that teach him something new or different – that in turn drive him on to explore new environments, situations, objects and the places they inhabit.
Ultimately, Roden brings one closer to an intimate world of reverie – an aural terrain that heaves, resonates, clips, scrapes, chimes and drips a mystical, ancient language."
— Helen Frosi
Craig Vear | ESK
"ESK is a sound poem tracing the flow of the River Esk from source to sea (North Yorkshire National Park to the North Sea). It was recorded in reverse order starting at the very end of the outer harbour wall in Whitby, taking backwards steps through winter, spring and summer towards the source of the Esk upstream of Westerdale; here a series of becks known as the Esklets merge to form the river. As far as possible this poem is told from the river's perspective, initially using hydrophones and then air mics. With the acquisition process finished the poem is then composed in order of flow, travelling back in time from Dale to coast, spring to winter, moorland ecology to busy harbour; beck to river to sea through 6 sites of special scientific interest."
— Craig Vear
Hiroki Sasajima & Takahisa Hirao | HIDDEN BIRD'S NEST
"With the aptly named "Hidden Bird's Nest" Hiroki Sasajima & Takahisa Hirao, all senses in alert, commit an uncommon dive into Nature's breathing Heart, the clamor of the world...
Purity is often usually a simple idealistic abstract notion - not here ; all sounds seem to have been captured in such a pristine way and in such full details that it seems to exceed the limitations of faithful reproduction...and one gets the feeling that suddenly the whole Cosmos is almost enclosed in a single resonance just in front of your ears...
Distance becomes abolished, and it's like if the listener is invited to become a vibrating & active part of the selected location...
Each sound has its own weight, color, placement and is the exact reflection of what it stands for...the restitution of an essence into all its components...
"Hidden Bird's Nest" should cross time easily, offering a veneer of permanence, while being an ultimate testimony of the magnificent Togakushi region..."
— Daniel Crokaert
David Michael | SHANGRI-LA
"David is a member of a new cadre of nature recordists springing from the mileu of "soundscape art" and "acoustic ecology." Informed by soundscape pioneers such as Murray Schafer (who coined the term soundscape) and strongly influenced by contemporary soundscape artists such as Francisco López (who emphasizes his own brand of profound listening), David approaches nature recording from many different perspectives.
Like a true sound artist, David carefully chooses recording locations and pays great attention to the placement of his microphone so that the resulting mix is easy on the ears. His binaural microphone setup attests to his attention to detail. Derived from Rob Danielson's PBB2N design (which is based on Mike Billingsley's Stereo Ambient Sampling System), the setup produces richly spatial recordings that sound superb over speakers and headphones alike.
All this attention to detail shines through in David's stunning new production, Shangri-La (an earthly paradise), presented both in short-form (a one hour "Twilight" excerpt) and long-form (a full ten hours from dusk through dawn). The setting is the edge of a northern marsh in Seney National Wildlife Refuge, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula."
— Lang Elliott