Tagged: field recordings

Blowing Hot and Cold

Here is CD04 in the Alessandro Bosetti box set Stille Post (BÔ?T RECORDS BR R010 / MONOTYPE RECORDS mono100). It contains two related pieces under the combined title Campanas & Whistling Republic. On The Whistling Republic, a piece for WDR from 2003, we hear another mosaic assemblage made of fragments of recording, mostly spoken word and a strange whistling language. These elements are underpinned with an electro-acoustic droning sound which grows gradually darker over the course of some 25 minutes, leaving the listener with a highly ambiguous snapshot of something. The theme of The Whistling Republic is to do with communication, a characteristic it arguably shares with all the records in this box. La Gomera is one of the Canary islands, where people sometimes communicate in whistles. This “silbo gomero” as it’s known is described as “a whistled register of Spanish”, and has been included by UNESCO on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Bosetti may or may not be interested in protecting or preserving that heritage, but he’s certainly interested in it as a language. When he stayed on Gomera, he wrote down some texts – some of them diary records of his sojourn, a couple of them complete works of fiction – and then passed these texts to the locals, asking them to express his words using the “silbo”. He was apparently standing over a mile away at the time with his microphones, yet he still captured these amazing whistles on his tape deck, because one of the features of the “silbo” is its ability to carry a message over long distances. The spoken texts on the record are the attempts made by the Gomerans to decipher and translate these whistles back into the spoken word. As ever, I expect the lively cross-communication dynamic is what appeals to Bosetti in this situation which he has set up. I would interpret it as a metaphor for all human communication; we’re all acting as transmitters and receivers, sending out messages in one language and decoding them into another.

On Campanas, Bosetti revisits Gomera some six years after he did the Whistling Republic piece. This time he took with him some of the unprocessed recordings from the earlier piece, and replayed them back into the air as he wandered around the island, looking for “acoustically interesting spots.” Sounds layered on top of other sounds. He re-recorded these sound events, and edited them into the suite we now hear on this 2009 piece. His own voice appears on the set; he speaks of returning to the island and giving something back, after he previously took something away. He writes, in his printed text, of “putting something inside a space in order to hear it”, making an observation perhaps about the nature of acoustics, but more likely an observation about the importance of context. He also draws, in yet another attempt to make himself understood, and the tentative doodles on the cover here illustrate some of the fantastic things he saw on Gomera; some of them are re-asserted by his vocal descriptions of them on the recording, and he states with some conviction that he “wasn’t dreaming” when he saw a man with two donkeys disappear into the clouds. Other magical-realist fragments emerge through the richness and wizardy of these recordings, and it’s a record that casts a compelling spell over the listener with its imaginative recasting of field recordings, forming uncanny broken narratives and rich atmospheres. Excellent.

Stille Post: Lid of box and front cover of booklet

Previous reviews:

CD01
CD02
CD03

Curriculum Vitae

The last tape in the envelope, which is a shame as I’ve enjoyed hearing these oddities – every one giving new and unexpected surprises, which is more than many labels can say these days. I Placca are the duo of Iritur’aràrcamu and Ben Presto, and their La La Vitea (TUTORE BURLATO #11) is a wonderful tape-jumble collage using everyday sound effects, field recordings, music, noise and what have you, creating a kaleidoscopic vision of modern life across six separate tracks. As ever with this label, the emphasis is on energy and humour combined with a decidedly skewed view of everything. Where some of the performers on this imprint shade that skewed view in darkness and grotesquerie, I Placca are more life-affirming and upbeat, and what is conveyed is that while life may be a little chaotic and hard to understand, it is not completely absurd and futile. Only once do our witty duo permit themselves to editorialise, and that’s on the final track ‘ochiesi’ which takes the sounds of the interior of a church (murmuring, whispering voices), and a choir singing a holy tune, then juxtaposes them with the bleats of a flock of sheep. A fairly obvious bit of collaging, in some ways, almost making a visual pun in sound. The chap who calls himself Iritur’aràrcamu is in fact Francesco Calandrino, whom we have heard in these pages on the Idi Di Marzo record he made with the French guitarist Jean-Marc Montera. Ben Presto is another luminary known to the world in the groups Cement Teddies, Larsen Lombriki, and Tofubibles; the duo’s common ground is that both have had works released by the Italian avant-garde label Setola Di Maiale. Matter of fact, I see they released Decidere A Te… for that label working under this same project name. It’d be nice to know who does what on this tape, given that both are clearly all-rounders when it comes to instrument performances, use of tapes, samplers, field recordings and live electronics, but on the other hand it’s also nice not to know. This is another highly enjoyable collaged vision of life that takes a lot of simple delight in finding, hearing, playing and editing sounds, without the need for processing or filtering or any of the other over-familiar digital tricks. Nice cover sketch of a strong man in red trunks and boots, too. Great!

One of nine cassettes received 4th July 2016 from Ezio Piermattei.

Amateur Chromatics

Another slice from the Stille Post (BÔŁT RECORDS BR R010 / MONOTYPE RECORDS mono100) box set by Alessandro Bosetti. CD02 is Gesualdo Translations, Bosetti’s take on the amazing music of Carlo Gesualdo. This Italian renaissance composer was famed for his bold harmonies and use of chromatics in his madrigals, and although neglected for a long time in the history of serious music, was reclaimed by Robert Craft and others and came to be regarded as a kind of forerunner of modernism; indeed I’ve even read a fascinating book called The Gesualdo Hex (by Glenn Watkins) which makes a convincing case for seeing Gesualdo as a precursor to serial and 12-tone composition.

Gesualdo also continues to fascinate a modern audience because of certain sensational details in his private life, for details of which I refer you to your own research. I’m fairly sure Bosetti knows about all this, but here he’s chosen to push the music through a daring experiment involving non-professional singers, in a sort of serendipitous crowd-sourcing action…he passed through the streets of Napoli, a place where Gesualdo is known to have lived and composed, and asked random people he met on the streets (and in cafes, churches, and markets) to participate. They would sing along as best they could to a recording of a single voice played back to them on headphones. Since the madrigals – taken in this instance from the famed fifth and sixth books of Gesualdo, regarded as his best and most experimental works – are multi-voice compositions, this clearly involved a lot of hard work by Bosetti in disaggregating the individual voice parts, and then re-assembling the parts from the taped results gathered in from his street singers.

The rich and complicated results on this record, some 45 minutes of heavily-edited suites, expand the “original chromaticism” of Gesualdo… “microtonal shadings are brought into the mix”, is Bosetti’s enthused claim, because the untrained singers, though often spirited and giving it a real go, are not really managing to hit the right notes at all. “Approximate renderings” is how he politely describes it. Additionally, further contextual field recordings from the streets are thrown in – people simply talking, chatting, bartering…along with cars, car horns, and other bits of guitar and keyboard music sourced from I know not where. All of this produces a delirious mix of sounds, assembled to a logic only Bosetti understands, and creates something new which is both familiar and strange at the same time.

A Gesualdo purist would probably be dismayed at the “bad” singing and take exception to the utterly fragmented mosaic-like approach of Bosetti’s assemblage, but taken as a whole lump of stew it’s a totally compelling experience. He calls it “a meditation on the practice of screziatura”, and screziatura is an Italian word which approximates to “mottling” or “speckling”…he may be thinking of a particular painterly effect, because I think one of the other pursuits of this genius polymath is the study of certain renaissance painting techniques, and composing or discovering musical parallels for them…how ambitious can you get? He also of course enjoys the random essence to the work, saying something about “the erratic nature of musical pitch”; and like everyone’s favourite mentor, John Cage, he is to some degree is allowing chance to guide his odyssey around the pathways of Naples and the people he met to produce these musical statements. Highly original and striking sonic coup here…

Dream Caused By A Fly

Excellent 10-inch slice of absurdist noise and composition in the form of Oeil Céleste (DOUBTFUL SOUNDS)…it’s in clear vinyl, limited and numbered, and packaged in a clear sleeve with a thick piece of cardboard backing it up…printed on said cardboard is the name of the project “Astagrob” using old-fashioned block printing methods…there are postcard inserts, and some fabulous Dadaist poems printed on the labels, making plain their allegiance to the cut-up style and “Words in Freedom”…plus there’s an image of a fly hovering over a punched hole in the card. Said fly loses his wings on the flipside of this card. Be warned…a similar tragic fate awaits the unwary listener who will lose brain cells and tenuous hold on reality…

Astagrob is a team-up between Ogrob and Astatine. Ogrob (Sebastien Borgo) has been inflicting mental pain on this house with his diabolical, powerful aural spells for many years to the memory, while Astatine is an alias for Stéphane Recrosio, another French composer who has been unleashing his own strain of freakish ambient noise on his own Orgasm label in that country for at least five years, often in the form of eight-inch lathe-cuts. The A-side of Oeil Céleste may have the most immediate appeal to noise-addicts, and it’s a highly assured arrangement (some might call it a pile-up) of uncanny elements, fitted together with intent to maim and hurt. I’m very impressed at the confidence with which this violent agglomeration has been cemented together…would like to see more of this instead of the usual tentative “experiments” from other corners, which blight the world of music today.

The B-side is less of a slammeroo in the mush, but it’s an intoxicating mix of field recordings stirred together with lo-fi ambient junk, which includes shrieking birds which may be from Australia, and an overall ambience which can’t decide whether to be countryside or industrial factory, and settles in some mid-way no-man’s-land where the skies are purple and the atmosphere is at risk of pollution. Vivid, alien landscapes…that’s the way to arrange your field recordings if you want to make an impression these days. Apparently there are six separate compositions on this mind-blender of a record, though it all solidifies into a continuous collapsing ruin as you play it. A remarkable little gem of sound-art with surrealist undertones. From 19 April 2016.

A Beacon From Venus

Last noted Klara Lewis with her Ett LP for Editions Mego, a memorable black pulser of rigid electronica abstraction in an all-black cover. Her newie Too (EDITIONS MEGO EMEGO 210) is on the same label, and again arrives in a black cover this time adorned with a line drawing by Klara herself. A woman’s head is superimposed with another head (perhaps two heads, even) until the layers of drawing multiply the intense eyes glaring in deathly fashion at nothing much at all. Klara has been continuing to perform her audio-visual show (music and projections) for the last two years apparently, and has now formed an association with Simon Fisher Turner, who contributed to two of the tracks here.

In this work, I’m continuing to enjoy what I read as a slightly aloof stance, and there’s a vague sense of detachment that exudes itself through this immaculately-polished set of layered electronic music with processed field recordings. Klara Lewis seems to keep “meaning” at bay, through her one-word titles that refuse simple associations, and her music that somehow remains disguised and ambiguous as to its true intent, even if it risks turning into wallpaper. Occasionally, as one the title track and ‘View’, rhythmic pulsations drive the track along, or rather seem to propel it like an unseen underground river; she’s never a one to over-state anything, and disinclined to mix her “beats” to the forefront of this very abstract art music.

Then there’s the even more abstracted episodes, like the dream-like ‘Beaming’, a charming and mysterious piece with its incredibly subdued tones punctuated with a mix of radio signals, distorted voices, and mixed field recordings. On paper that sounds like an uninspiring technical exercise, but ‘Beaming’ is a charming view through the fourth-dimensional mirror into another world, surreal, occluded, amazing details barely glimpsed. From 25 May 2016.

Digital Memories

American-born sound artist Pierce Warneke mostly lives and works in Europe, and has surfaced here before mainly in the context of Emitter Micro, that interesting label that has been home to a few small-run releases in bizarre packaging which contains anonymous, perplexing and alienatingly severe electronic sound art. I often associate him with Berliner Christoph Limbach, and both of them appeared on Four Corners Of The Night, a cassette tape released by Staaltape around 2012. Warneke has now made a superb album called Memory Fragments (ROOM 40 RM479), where he performs electronic music using assorted devices and methods such as the electromagnetic coil, contact microphones, feedback, and a process called “FM and additive synthesis”. And some conventional instruments, including piano and guitar. He’s joined by the bass player Yair Elzara Glotman, Kris Limbach (see above) on percussion, and the saxophonist Pierre Borel. In addition to this, there are field recordings gathered from America, Portugal, France and Germany folded into the equation.

The set is thus far from minimal or severe, and instead offers a rich set of complex and intriguing tones for the listener to explore and move around inside. With a descriptive paragraph explaining something of the origins of this work, Warnecke uses an entire thesaurus of terms which mean more or less the same thing – the message that comes across is constant change and reworking, suggesting he manipulates his sizeable gobbets of sound like so much plasticine, remoulding them into toy farms, cities, office workers and Noah’s Ark configurations like a grown-up child ought to do. A large number of contemporary sound artists are into the “reworking” thing these days; I suppose it’s much easier to tinker with sound files in the computer than ever before, and while some of them may hope to align themselves with the early geniuses of musique concrète, quite often they simply produced reams of over-cooked murk and spew, which has been baked in the innards of a laptop for far too long.

We can’t level that accusation at a single track, or a single moment, on Memory Fragments; every musical utterance has a certain weight, and there’s a solidity and crispness to the sounds that is impressive. Although events do tend to coagulate into a continuum of some sort, it’s never a mindless or boring process drone; and the strange weightless journey into space is mapped with a series of very distinct and separated sound events, acting like milestones. It’s a very exciting and inexplicable noise.

There’s also a certain solemnity to the music, as if every utterance were delivered by an undertaker wearing a large top hat and a grave countenance. This may have something to with the ponderous track titles; each one nearly a sentence, or title of a book chapter (a book one never hopes to read), and to boot they’re arranged under two headings, suggesting the book is a two-volume monster of epic sweep. The trend of these titles reads like an attempt to describe the phenomenon of memory itself, clasping at concrete images that might capture it in some way. In that context, the phrase “built on folds and braids” seems especially resonant. The puzzling cover image (uncredited) may also be an attempt to pin down the elusive idea of memory into a visual form; curlicue twisted rags of cloth or paper spin in space, or are arranged in something resembling a grid.

Warneke is attempting to say something about the human mind as a recording medium. The brain can replay memories, but it might do so in a faulty manner, so that the memory never matches the actual experience. This volatility interests him, and the record Memory Fragments expresses this idea by “taking samples (sound, images, objects) of a physical space and then placing them in an imaginary process of transformation and transience that slowly erodes these digital memories until disappearance”. From 25 May 2016.

Natural Incapacity: single-minded industrial ambient noise drone with no beginning and no end

Relay for Death, Natural Incapacity, The Helens Scarsdale Agency, 2xCD HMS039 (2016)

Jim Haynes who sold me this set was right when he warned that this double CD work was not party music … though I’m sure it’ll come in handy late in the night or during the early hours of the morning when dawn is about to break and party guests need a reminder that they have to catch the train to go home. Disc 1 certainly sounds like an eternal train rumbling and travelling at brisk speed on lines that carry it all over the globe, encircling the planet continuously, in the manner of the snowpiercer in the joint Korean / Hollywood sci-fi flick of the same name. Now and then extra puffy white smoke hisses from the release of high-pressure valves and in the distant background human voices call out to one another to warn that another valve must be opened, temperature gauges must be monitored and maybe more coal must be shovelled into the mechanical beast’s ravenous hot maw. This soundtrack to one’s Industrial Revolution steampunk fantasies is constant all the way through the disc yet for all its essential sameness its details in their continuous variation ensure that Yours Truly’s attention level stays at a high level: a remarkable achievement given that this cat has a low tolerance level for anything that seems even a weeny bit monotonous.

It’s such a long piece that it even extends across a second disc longer than the first with the same po-faced attitude and intense single-minded focus. You can hardly find much more relentless and implacable industrial ambient noise drone than this massive monster. As on Disc 1, the details within this droning piece change continuously: the same occasional hissing puffs, the rhythmic churning, that sense of surging motion charging along a single path into an unknown future, above all the indifferent attitude to the humans being swept up unwillingly and helpless in this unyielding machine tsunami … it’s all there, wearing down the listener’s resistance and driving all hope for a better future away. Towards the end of Disc 2, the music begins to pause, go quiet and start up again, only to repeat the process, as if the machine powering it is running down and falling apart.

You’d be right in guessing that urban and post-industrial decay and breakdown, and accompanying environmental and chemical pollution and blight might be major themes here. The place of humans in this world is as individual cogs, all of them of equal (minuscule) value to the functioning of the gigantic machine monster that swallows them up. Despair and resignation are paramount as there is no hope of escape or remedy. The funny thing though is that the more I listen to these recordings, the more I actually find their unbending linear tenacity predictable and thereby comforting.

Relay for Death are twin sisters Rachal and Roxann Spikula who call Richmond in California home and “Natural Incapacity” is their second album as Relay for Death. Familiar eminence grise James Plotkin has mastering credit – one day I will have to review something that actually has his name on it as artist, not just way down in the fine print – and Jim Haynes designed the artwork which includes a hand-rusted metal cover that’s sure to be the talk of most parties, even parties where this album probably won’t be brought out until quite late in the night.

Dislocation Recordings

Various
Landscapes Of Fear
GERMANY GRUENREKORDER GRUEN 153 2 x CD (2015)

One to disrupt the harmony of your CD shelf is this oversized card wallet containing an obliquely labeled, monochrome OS map of the area surrounding Cologne and 2 CDs of discomfiting sound art pertaining to the themes of 1) Landscapes and 2) Fear. A simplistic summary perhaps, but given the density of the accompanying text – which will assuredly sort the men from the boys among us – some distillation is required. We might ponder the dichotomy posed by these two situational extremes: the tangible and idyllic terra firma juxtaposed with the most chaotic and disembodying of emotions; security and exile – two extremes of human existence. Framing this juxtaposition is an image of a metal fence, on one side of which is a crowd of displaced refugees concealed from view by strategically placed bushes and palm trees. On the other, two golfers conducting their game, unmolested by the nearby tragedy.

While the reference to Europe’s current refugee crisis is explicit, the universality of the title’s constituents is such that we could extend the analogy to many situations in which the ‘radically diverging perceptions and adoptions of spaces’ occur in the present day. Take for example the legally sanctioned compartmentalisation of UK homes into multiple ‘apartments’ as a means of revenue generation for landlords and private investors, added to which is the humiliation of full council tax for each (while mansion owners pay proportionately lower rates), regardless of the size of the dwelling, purely on the grounds that there is a lock on the front door. Inhabiting these overpriced shoeboxes are the many who are locked out of the ever costly housing market and who face a future of financial disempowerment.

Needless to say, we needn’t look to the contents of this collection for comfort, but we might take heart that some are watching and addressing the flagrant injustices that visit so many walks of life today. The majority of the music is drone-based; tension-fuelled dark/power ambient minefields paired with location recordings for dislocation effect; splattered with rhythmic and vocal shrapnel in reference to political assassinations and other human rights abuses, as well as – of course – the kind of drones used by Western governments to police and terrorise the Middle East. Lawrence English has produced work similar in sound and agenda, but not with the bleakness of such events as Tim Gorinski’s ‘Amuse 2’ – a controlled explosion of ricocheting beats, sirens and shouting (William Burroughs might have approved of this), or Alex Pulgar’s ‘Lujk/Flame’ – where electroacoustic flames are funnelled through a tunnel of low-fi scum noise.

Hardly content with the alienating effects of such ‘music’, the compilers have seen fit to include Lena Ditte Nissen’s dispassionate German-language narration in ‘Imaginary Orb’ – which many a non-German speaker will instinctively skip – and the uneasy listening of a pair of North American accented sat-nav devices speaking over one another in Stephanie Glauber’s and Miriam Gossing’s ‘Mercure/Mondial’. Even English speakers will find this nauseating. Indeed, our agitation appears to be the overriding raison d’etre. Where so much in the realm of high-concept music can comfortably detach itself from conceptual baggage to exist as listening material per se, works such as this promote a sense of responsibility by insisting upon a level of listener interrogation.

More akin to an art gallery experience, Landscapes of Fear attains a kind of surrealism as a home-listening product. The simultaneous in/coherence of the selection, defined largely by the wilful austerity and disparity of the artists’ methods, would effect a collapsing of borders between internal and external phenomena; occasioning a discomfort that would remind us of the atrocities that take place daily beyond our psychological blinkers, in a world in which even the horror of events like Donald Trump’s inexplicable popularity achieve a circus sensationalism at which most of us can but shrug our shoulders in resignation. At the same time, the experience should also remind us that far from getting downhearted and downhearted at such horror, a constructive response is always possible.

I Forget

nov16327

New York composer Howard Stelzer is mostly known round these parts for his fab label Intransitive Recordings, whereon he released many smouldering gems of mysterious electroacoustic composition, field recordings, tape music and noise. While a few snippets from his career have come our way, I don’t have much of his solo work to hand, so this collection The Case Against (MONOTYPE mono073) is most welcome. Title tracks indicate it’s a suite in five parts, so one might read it as a lengthy meditation on various heavy matters – the overall tone is sombre, and the music is extremely abstract for the most part, excepting some segments where recognisable fragments of real-life everyday noise seep into the mix.

Most notably this happens on ‘Rip It Up’, a brief montage where the sounds of a crowd of people take on a very puzzling hue in the context of so much droning soarage. Did I mention he does it all using cassette tapes…he calls it “cassette music” and his approach to composing with these cronky oxide lengths of magnetic hue is very maximal, using intensive processing and editing to create incredibly rich and dense fields of solid grind. What evocative track titles too…’Accumulated Background Radiation’ might almost be preparing us for a post-nuclear devastation landscape, always a popular trope with industrial musicians, while ‘The Last Scattering Surface’ contains a poignant air of finality, and serves up over 17 minutes of single-minded metal-enriched airy droning tones. When the noise ceases to make way for clouds, birdsong and the noise of the artiste fumbling with his microphones, it’s almost a shocking shift from the abstract to the real, emerging into daylight from the end of a deep pit. This moment, and other parts of the album, show how sensitive Seltzer is when it comes to contrasting timbres and deploying them for maximal effect.

The cover art is by comic strip artist Tony Millionaire and depicts a wrecked hulk on the beach, a forlorn image which is highly suitable for the somewhat lonely and desolate air of this release. From 21 June 2016.

All Or Nothing

hein-schoer-the-sounding-museum

Hein Schoer
The Sounding Museum: Box of Treasures
GERMANY GRUENREKORDER GRUEN 137 BOOK / 2 x DVD / CD (2014)

Talk about getting what you wish for. The Sounding Museum: Box of Treasures could have been assembled and (re)issued in direct response to Jennifer Hor’s review of ‘soundscaper’ Hein Schoer’s original in 2012, CD-only edition of The Sounding Museum: Two Weeks in Alert Bay in the Sound Projector in 2012. The CD contained field recordings of the mountainous ‘Namgis region of Western Canada along with documentation of the aboriginal inhabitants’ oral tradition of songs and stories; the two being contextually inseparable. Yet the disc proved unsatisfying and incomplete to some listeners, owing to a lack of background detail, though whether or not this effect was by design is unclear. However, Jennifer’s dissatisfaction with this under-represented subject matter – and potentially extending to other ethnographic documents – was qualified by a recommendation for accompanying DVD and map of the area in question.

It appears that the walls sometimes have ears, as the Gruenrekorder label have gone even further in their appeasement gesture than hoped for, packaging an extended CD, audio and visual DVDs with a 400-page book detailing Schoer’s motives for and experiences during his two weeks spent among the small Namgis community, a name doubtless quite new to most readers of these words. To leave no stone unturned is one reason for this disambiguation, and to ensure no remaining uncertainty as to the fact that it represents an outsider’s superficial overview, another. The explicit honesty behind this disclaimer offers more than the safety of academic distance: the music is intended to stir interest and imagination and to spur the curious listener to invest time in personal research via the book and discs, including an audio DVD designed for nothing less than quadraphonic playback of the full contents of the original CD, which further underlines the book’s similarly immersive role in this set.

One problem highlighted by the above review is the lack of background information about the life and culture of the people of Alert Bay, though this deficit may in fact have been by design: Schoer provides an account of the project’s development, which early on included preparing a permanent exhibition in a museum in Zurich; one of sound without visuals. ‘We believed that the experience of the sounds of a culture brings an immediacy and intimacy, an immersive quality, that the usual object-focussed approach of the classical exhibition was lacking’ he explains.

Such an approach illustrates the evident challenge when translating to a saturated CD marketplace though: who wants to buy a blank package? The problem is more than adequately handled by the second DVD though, which contains an unexpurgated ‘directors cut’ cornucopia of photos, videos, original recordings, an interactive map and related documentation should anyone have the time and commitment to plumbing the depths of this comprehensive effort. The feast of photography is particularly fascinating, illuminating pastimes, wildlife and local landscapes less than half-defined by the recordings. Schoer recommends sifting through all this only after listening to the main recording.

Musically, both much and little has changed to the contents of the initial release, that is, the title piece ‘Two Weeks…’. This 42-minute audio montage weaves environmental sounds into recordings of the culture and customs of the ‘Namgis: traditional songs, percussion performances, carving workshops and what could be story-telling (or merely gossip) in the indigenous language, though there are snatches of explanatory English. Weaving together uneventfully quotidian events to rather rousing musical passages, Schoer’s intention for this exposition seems to be would appear to be a blend of authenticity with the sensational, resulting in a kind of magical realism; a wallpaper that repeatedly draws you in from the cold with its bamboozling intricacy. While I personally find many of the supplementary recordings interesting, their appeal certainly owes a great deal to this piece. My one regret is that I haven’t the facilities to enjoy the more immersive DVD audio version.

Appended to this are some original songs and a verbal account of a local myth in which U’melth – a promethean raven – connives to steal the sun; a fable that held parallel for Jennifer to the work of the soundscaper/field recorder. The telling is richly descriptive, but requires careful attention, unlike the title piece. However, all of this is framed by what is explicitly Schoer’s perspective: the ‘journey’ begins and ends with recordings of the ferry trip to and from the Alert Bay, the first an echoing and relatively lunar experience, the latter a rich, dream-like accumulation of audio memories that follow the recordist home.

The thoroughness with which this package has been compiled soundly addresses any possible charge of paucity, yet it also highlights the difficulties implicit in purveying ethnographic recordings. Many labels recognise this reality, and present their recordings with a necessary minimum of supplementary material. By offering this remarkable and heavily annotated second edition to Schoer’s original soundscape, Gruenrekorder make the point that such endeavours are by necessity an all or nothing affair, and – moreover – that the listener has a responsibility to take an active role in the process.