One day not so long ago, Valiska (Krzysztof Sujata) took the bus to the train in downtown Calgary and thought, wow, this sounds pretty good. And so, field recorder in hand, he set out to record the sounds of the day: to bring the city to life for international sonic travelers. The result is the intriguing Record of 37, an album whose strength (lack of post-processing) is also its weakness; the tracks make wonderful postcards, but an overall soundscape might have been more effective. I’ve said this sort of thing before, and recently, but it’s worth repeating: flow (in this case, the elimination of stops and starts) is often preferable to accuracy (in this case, the presentation of unadorned tracks in their originally recorded order, save one). This being said, Record of 37 is a fine collection and an impressive first foray into the genre for the artist.
The opening and closing tracks (“Centre p.1″ and “Centre p.2″, the latter being the only track out of order, but wisely placed) are two of the strongest. The first part contains the train announcement and is followed a track later by the stretch and buckle of arrival. Perhaps not coincidentally, this second track (“Harsh noise busking”) finds its brother in the loud traffic of the second-to-last track (“Any street corner”), but the rest of the album is less parabolic. ”Centre p.2″ contains the same birds and tracks of the opener, but adds bells for a sense of closure. What goes around has come around, and will do so again.
“Idling” features an amusingly disgruntled female speaking to her companion as the sound of heels clicks from speaker to speaker. ”A moveable stair, unusable chair” contains a series of interesting squeaks, while “Pasteur rooftop” presents gravelly sounds similar to those of a sorting machine. The busier, more specific and less nature-oriented sounds are the most effective, as they convey more of a city feel; a soundscape would likely have clustered these tracks in the middle or end. Overall, Calgary comes across as a rather quiet city, a nice place to live or visit, with minimal traffic and even fewer pedestrians; or perhaps this was simply an introspective day. Representative or not, Record of 37 is loving in its approach and respectful of its sonic environment, a kind present to its Canadian subject. (Richard Allen)