The Most Dangerous Animal

French contemporary electro-acoustic composer Frédéric Nogray last surfaced here with his Ondureñas record for Unfathomless. Like today’s record Wild Noise Hall (FRÉQUENCES CRITIQUES #3), that was composed entirely from field recordings fetched back form his travels to Honduras, in this instance when he was near the Caribbean sea on the north coast. Jennifer Hor could feel herself sweating in sympathy with these humid sounds, enjoying the chatter of “monkeys joining the choir of insects and birds.” Wild Noise Hall may use similar sounds – there’s a lot of birdsong, insects, wild animals, and a tremendous amount of water, which may be a waterfall or a rainstorm, or both. At all times Nogray is intending to evoke a raw, exciting experience – possibly even slightly dangerous, and certainly surreal, bordering on the disturbing.

His mini-essay (I received a copy enclosed as a single sheet) reminds us that even if we know these sounds are created by animals, weather, and other forces of nature, it is possible to forget this while listening, and thus the mind is able to experience these unsettling emotions and sensations. It helps, of course, that he is deliberately editing and sequencing the sounds to help foster this particular impression in the brain. It also helps that he likens his music, on this occasion, to that of harsh noise wall – a genre noted for its competing frequencies, loud volumes, and terrifying shocks which it administers to the listener in a rather ruthless manner. Here, Nogray muses gently on the way in which HNW “brings the focus on the listening experience…[it] seems at first inscrutable like the white wall in front of the eyes of the Zen Buddhist student”. By contrast, instead of a wall, he wants to create a “lively [and] open” space with these Honduras recordings, and invites us to explore that space. Very coincidentally, his title forms the acronym WNH, and he plays on this when making the comparison to HNW.

Some of these above observations may indeed be common to many other field recording / phonographer / environmentalist types, but Nogray does convey a tremendous amount of passion and energy in his work here. He comes close to capturing the true rawness, the wildness, of nature. Nogray also did the colourful cover paintings for this release. Arrived 23rd January 2019 from Antoine Rigaux.

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