The global Covid pandemic has changed our listening, this is particularly true for those of us living in urban and industrialized areas. What do we hear when the trucks are not rumbling down our street? What do we pay attention to when people are tucked away in their homes and not out on the street in their vehicles? This might mean a heightened awareness of nature, particularly birds, it also might highlight the man-made sounds that were once so prevalent that we simply ignored them — when the trucks are less frequent suddenly we pay attention to them.
Originally from the Navajo Nation, Raven Chacon is a composer of chamber music, a performer of experimental noise music, and an installation artist. He performs regularly as a solo artist as well as with numerous ensembles in the Southwest and beyond. He is also a member of the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity, with who he recently premiered the two-mile-long land art/border intervention, Repellent Fence.
“Red Bird” (1977) is a 45-minute piece of musique concrète in four movements. Made for the most part of bird sounds, body sounds, and selected mouthed words, it weaves an intricate network of symbols. Completed in 1977, it was made with traditional electro-acoustic techniques.
Benjamin Gale is a freelance Sound Editor, Field Recordist and Sound Designer from Bristol, UK currently living in the south of France. He has been developing a series of immersive audio books for children using binaural recordings and SFX to accompany voice acting and illustrations.
An aural journey from the source of the river, in the high peak area of the Adirondacks, downstream to the Lower Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; Lockwood traces the course of the Hudson through on-site recordings of its flow at 15 separate locations. Annea Lockwood has recorded rivers in many countries to explore the special state of mind and body which the sounds of moving water create when one listens intently to the complex mesh of rhythms and pitches. The listener will find that each stretch of the Hudson has its own sonic texture, formed by the terrain, varying according to the weather, the season and downstream, the human environment whose sounds are intimately woven into the river’s sounds. 71 minutes 33 seconds
Heather Hart’s “The Oracle of Lacuna” creates spaces for communal exploration of little-known regional oral histories.
Her Long Black Hair is a 35-minute journey that begins at Central Park South and transforms an everyday stroll in the park into an absorbing psychological and physical experience. Cardiff takes each listener on a winding journey through Central Park’s 19th-century pathways, retracing the footsteps of an enigmatic dark-haired woman.
The conceit behind the 1989 edition of Luc Ferrrari’ “Presque Rien Avec Filles” is that a concealed composer/photographer records some girls having a picnic. If that sounds potentially passive and prurient, it ends up being neither. The opening nature sounds are soon elbowed aside by isolated words and exhalations, which are in turn blasted by bursts of a very late ’80s-sounding drum machine.
Using archive and field recordings, Chris Watson recreates a passenger ride across the country on a line that no longer exists. It’s been more than a decade since the last service operated by the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM). Watson spent a month on board one of the trains as a sound recordist working with a film crew documenting a BBC TV series on Great Railways Journeys. The atmospheres captured with sensitive microphones in the country reveal the environment at its most open, intimate and natural setting. An additional post-production of looping train samples, turns this mere field recording into a mesmerizing trip. This is more than just a sound portrait lifted off a television show. Watson composes a cinematic narrative bringing the listener (and the observer) into a setting unattainable alone.
I tried to stay absolutely still for as long as possible, to see if I could hear anything at all. I listened and listened. I held my breath and listened again. I had a queer feeling that the whole wood was listening with me, the trees and the bushes, the little animals hiding in the…
The Well is constructed from sounds recorded in Istanbul: voices, machines, footsteps, tunnels, but also bronze cymbals and electric guitars. But it is not purely phonographic, it’s a personal journey through layers of narrative, memory, sounds and music – an attempt to uncover the secret well that lies deep under the city.
Decades after the fact, French composer Luc Ferrari recalled that the first time he played “Presque Rien” for his colleagues at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, their faces turned to stone. Such dismay is often the fate of any art that takes its medium to a wholly logical yet previously unacceptable conclusion, let alone art that changes the game. This 21-minute piece, which was first heard in 1970, did both, and the work of contemporary artists as disparate as Chris Watson and Vanessa Rossetto owe it a hefty debt.
9.11.01 Scapes was composed to accompany a series of collaged images created by Jo-Anne Green the day New York’s World Trade Center was attacked. Green’s palette consisted of NASA images of earth and photographs of diatoms and ground Zero. Each Scape consists of multiple layers. Thorington used the layers’ titles, and the texts that accompanied the NASA images to weave her multilayered narrative for the Notes; and much as Green used found ‘pigments’, Thorington used found sounds to create the soundscore for the series. 9:11:01 Scapes was the winner of an Honorable Recognition, Prix Bohemia Radio Festival, Czechoslovakia, 2003; and the Winner, Aether Festival, KUNM-FM, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2003.