While the Mystery Sea label is about water, offshoot Unfathomless is about place. And while David Velez‘ recordings have also concentrated on water, Sonido Descompuesto (Decomposed Sound) takes place on Las Margaritas, his aunt and uncle’s Columbian farm. So while the recording begins with familiar sonic images – the lapping of the River Neusa and a gentle rain – it quickly branches out into a braver experience. It only takes three minutes for the first “Woah, what was that?” noise to appear, and when it does, the mind suddenly lurches from restful to vigilant.
At this point, the clarity of the recording also begins to emerge, with the sounds of drainage and dragged metal: a combination of the earthly and the human that imitates the colliding forces found on a farm. Construction continues while birds twitter; tractors plow amid the mud. While one would normally think, “a family farm, how quaint! Cows in the barn, pies cooling in the windowsill”, this recording reminds us that owning and operating a farm is hard work. One barely finishes the chores when dusk falls, and then it’s time to start over; little time to enjoy the “forest of phosphorescent moss” nearby. But as Velez is a visitor, he’s free to wander, recording insects, chimneys, and wind mobiles, like a Don Quixote whose dreams actually succeed.
Although the disc is presented as a single piece, different tracks can be discerned within. The first is the longest and strongest, blending the richness of nature with a surprisingly non-intrusive array of industrial noises. While this section may be a field recording, it sounds at times like experimental music. A fade at exactly 18:30 leads to a new section, which introduces a dark drone along with unidentifiable crackles and whirls. Low notes are offset by higher-pitched percussive frequencies, which clack like cards caught in spokes. After six more minutes have passed, a dual deluge of motor and monsoon presents the album with its most thrilling section; crickets and hammers provide sullen accompaniment. Unfortunately, these sounds fade after only two minutes, giving way to footsteps and a quiet river. When they return a bit later, they sound slightly unnatural, as one becomes keenly aware of the artist’s hand on the volume knob. As this happens nowhere else, it’s swiftly forgotten.
Section Three begins at 30:52 with brasslike timbres and some oddly unruffled birds. The transitions here are smoother; insect buzzes fade in and out, but that’s what insects do. Sometimes it’s a hive, other times a horde. A bit of actual music is buried in the 34th minute, but quickly retreats, only to return again as a drone a few minutes later. Sections repeat, chorus-like, while their surroundings mutate. The closing minutes revisit earlier themes: rain, dragged metal, and in the 43rd minute, that music, vanishing like a phantasm, leaving questions in its wake. Were secrets buried in the silo? Do generations wander like ghosts? Can benign memories sometimes turn to menace? As alluring as the general idea of a farm may be, decomposed sound is much more accurate. These scavenged sounds operate as deteriorating fragments clutching their last threads of existence. (Richard Allen)