“It’s only recently that I have begun to recognize and appreciate the environment that I grew up (in) and its role in (my) development”, writes Tristan Louth-Robins, whose field recordings seek to preserve the memories of his youth. The statement is true for most of us. As children, we enjoy the outdoors, a source of discovery, entertainment and escape. Then we tend to find indoor employment and begin to idealize beaches, rivers, mountains and parks as places we would visit if we only had the time. Louth-Robins seems to be saying, these things are right next to you. Go.
This sad state of affairs is present in my own coastal town. A common comment is, “I haven’t been to the beach all year.” Such a statement has as much to say about time management as it does with nature, and either way, it’s sad. Those who grow estranged from the earth begin to view it as other: a political cause, a bothersome neighbor, and may even begin to prefer The Discovery Channel to discovery.
Louth-Robins is rediscovering sounds the sounds of his childhood: local crows, rising winds, crashing surf. These sounds are still there, relatively unchanged; but now he’s listening with new ears. One of the pleasures of youth is finding a hidden sound, such as that of pebbles withdrawing in a wave; one needs to be underwater to hear their crispness. This sound is beautifully captured in the sixth minute of “Fleurieu W. (Across Two Bays)”. As the centerpiece of the selection, the segment also demonstrates the beauty of waiting. The piece begins and ends with human intrusion – the sound of distant traffic. The further one ventures, the greater the chance to hear the sublime.
The similarly titled “Fleurieu E. (Across Two Islands)” further explores the sound of the sea, flipping the script from the preceding track. This time, the excitement lies at the beginning at end, while the center is placid. As the track begins, waves collide with Granite Island. As the artist moves into the bay, he encounters frogs and finches, finishing with a flourish of natural activity. In so doing, he echoes the wonder of a child stumbling upon creatures in crevasses and treasures in tide pools. “Alexandrina Flux” adds the sound of evening insects, displaying the trajectory of the day.
The Path Described is a sonic souvenir of a specific Australian peninsula, an evocative recreation of aural memory, and a universal invitation. The world beckons. An open window is not enough. (Richard Allen)