We last encountered the Belgian sound artist Sabri Meddeb as one-third of the international Hokuro. Between dawn and dusk is Meddeb’s latest solo effort, recorded at night beneath a full moon. The set consists of three pieces: two field recording works that bracket an extended ambient soundscape. The opening and closing pieces are the most effective, so effective that they make the music seem like a distraction. Still, overall, the recording casts a spell of fragile calm.
The 21-minute title track is immensely appealing, thanks in large part to a wide variety of avian species. Every couple minutes a new voice seems to emerge. The resulting effect is slightly reminiscent of the Wendell Berry poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” ~
When despair for the world grows in me …
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
Would that everything were so easy. But while listening to “Between dawn and dusk – Cycle of night-twilight”, one begins to develop a sense of peace, a sense that despite all outer circumstances, this world is unfolding as it should. After all, what do the rivers care for our problems, or the birds for our disputes? Dogs bark in the final minutes, but fail to disturb even the crickets.
A pleasant lull continues through the opening minutes of “The place for hearing”, which is just the right length on Meddeb’s Bandcamp page at 4:20, but five times longer on the full recording. The piece eases in softly, delicate as a butterfly’s wings, with dogs still barking, footsteps echoing and insects buzzing. Cars pass on a distant street. In the second minute chimes begin to sound, as if nudged by the wind. Ironically, a fade at 4:20 would have been perfectly timed. Instead, Meddeb contributes ambient washes while allowing an electronic pop to repeatedly surface. The slowly revolving musical tones begin to drown the sound of the forest, retreating only in the final two minutes. The contrast increases the listener’s appreciation of natural sounds, which may not have been Meddeb’s intention. Fortunately, the album makes a strong recovery with the pure-again “Reflection Contemplation”, as the animal kingdom reclaims its territory. While Meddeb’s gentle musical incursion is laudable, the appeal of this recording is his listening ear. (Richard Allen)