Estonia’s Taavi Tulev describes himself as a soundscape designer, concerned with the interplay between natural and urban noises. Tulev is also an electronic artist, whose last release, T400, was released in a plastic case that had to be cracked to be opened. The packaging of his latest release is the opposite, inspiring a work of creation rather than destruction. Those who purchase the disc are invited to attach their choice of stickers to the digipak. Okeiko’s childlike images conjure a swift smile; even the translucent disc contains the artist’s happy doodles.
As to the sound of the disc: “It’s early morning, June 8, 2013. We’re at Lake Muike in Lahemaa National Park, Estonia. It’s a windless, warm and sunny day. Birds sing, and bugs are about.” The main character is a bird who chants the title of the album throughout the 22-minute recording, echoing effectively toward the end. Consider this character the lead singer, and the backing birds the band. From time to time, a guest vocalist – typically a bee – is given a line or two. The musicians are typically choral, but are occasionally percussive, using trees and water as their drum set. Together, they create a wall of natural sound. The longer one listens, the more nuance one gleans; one eventually begins to anticipate the entrance of the baby birds in the nineteenth minute.
The artist advises listeners to play the piece at “natural” volume so that it is interchangeable with the source environment. One of Tulev’s concerns is the seeming eradication of such sounds by those of industry. This humble disc is an invitation to bring the sounds of the outdoors indoors, as a reminder of what we’re missing, or have lost. A deeper invitation is for those in urban environments to find a sonic space of their own, whether it be a pocket or a preserve. The underlying hope is that such a discovery might bring the listener joy, restoring a sense of childlike wonder. Perhaps then one might return to one’s desk, reaching not for the keyboard, but for the crayons that one had set aside for younger visitors. One suspects that Tulev would be happy to learn he had inspired such a choice. (Richard Allen)