“89” is a thirty-two minute piece recorded in Fujaco, a mountain village in São Pedro do Sul, Portugal. Through all of its duration (“89” being the only track), listeners are effectively Fujaco’s most recent visitors, spending several days in the Portuguese village in the space of half an hour.
@c are Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais. All of the recordings on Re:Fujaco were taken in May 2011, during an artistic residency, and then later finished off in Porto and Nodar. A sweat soaked humidity circles the recording as lively bees and harmonious birdsong filters through alongside the native animals that abide in the mountains of Portugal. Insects chirp, along with the blares of sheep. Metallic silver wind chimes tinkle in the breeze and the village voices cut into the mix, artfully so, sending the climes of spring and the promise of a hot summer into the air. If the date of the recording had remained a mystery, the music would quickly speak the truth of the season.
@c differ from the field recording…uh, field…by inserting a palpable drone that drifts in and out of the music. Added to this are voices that seem to be everywhere and nowhere, cut ‘n’ pasted into the recording. And then there is that slightly disturbing voice, as if treading through a sludge of deep mud, that slowly enters; an incomprehensible, repellent undercurrent. Slowly but surely, the sounds gradually fixate upon anyone listening to the land.
An opening trek sends feet rustling over light stones that are almost close enough to touch, and a crisp gravel becomes splayed by a careless palm. Subtle grains in the recording start to filter through; a low, droning growl approaches, as if that barking woman’s voice is commanding her stray dog to return, and not to mind the new visitors. Good doggy. A sense of undisturbed peace feels its way inside the rural landscape, and then enters into @c’s aural soundscape. A whisper of breath would be audible within the first 5 minutes, until a swarm of bees descend and scatter the serenity. After this, the listener is quickly shuttered into a dank subterranean hideaway (maybe this?), or even deeper, that breathes claustrophobia despite the sound of what appears to be raindrops falling in a cavernous echo. Yet, Re:Fujaco is not what it appears to be.
Clangs of an old industry reverberate inside an inner shelter, out of the heat, but it may also be the muffled thud of clashing rocks heard in a black forest. It returns over and over, dripping in an isolated recess. Along with the return of that warped, croaking voice, the atmosphere has decidedly cooled. @c’s mixing is impressive. Everything is manipulated just enough so as to remove the recordings from their original setting; they are then segmented and projected inside another of Fujaco’s unique environments. For example, the villager’s voices are inserted suddenly, without any forewarning, out of the sun and into the midst of that industrial remnant, now abandoned and shining coolly with dull rust.
The male and female voices of the villagers differ wildly; an outburst of laughter, children playing, a pause for thought or a passionate conversation; this is their music. In the end, these voices cut up in seconds and never appear in the same place again, like captured snapshots of entering ghosts. It makes you wonder just what they’re discussing. Nearer the end, the voices rise to such an extent that their presence surrounds the recording, circled by a densely forested drone glimmering through the tree lines. In this sense, Re:Fujaco is an unusual listen, the emergence of a very real drone blurring the field recording lines and almost creating a triangular hybrid between the field recording, experimental music and electronic sequencing.
Re:Fujaco is a recording that can be listened to over and over and still discover vital new elements (and new terrain) on each listen. This is a shameful cliche, but it’s true in this instance. On return to Fujaco, it’s easy to find different contours that may have been missed, angles unexplored; hidden gems in the landscape that are only visible after spending a longer time searching the area. Fujaco seems to be a beautiful place, and Re:Fujaco ensures that it can now be entered through the music, and the imagination.
Fujaco has new visitors. (James Catchpole)