Yannick Dauby‘s latest soundscape is not a typical field recording; louder and more immediate than the average effort, this vinyl excursion amplifies the sounds of shore and sea beyond what the naked ear is used to hearing.
As a Frenchman relocated to Taiwan, Dauby is a man caught between worlds, and this recording serves as a metaphor for his dual background. Not only does he split time between beach and hydroponics, he also allows the sounds of humanity to seep into those of nature. Although the human element is minor, it provides perspective and offers welcome contrast.
The only unpleasant part of the record arrives in the opening minute: a sound similar to that heard when a disc is poorly burned. There’s no identifying what this specific sound is, but it interferes with the more natural sounds of prayer and electronically tweaked birds. A minute in, the sound disappears forever, and the twinned sounds of sea and sky emerge. Each bird sounds as if it is eating the speaker, and each wave is as close as the wind in one’s ear. The most exciting segment – and fortunately, a generous one – contains the contrast between crashing waves, electronic announcements, and a series of wooden and metal chimes. The waves sound as if they have been recorded on a reel-to-reel, with the sound between the waves erased. This allows for silence in some intervals and interjections in others. When the receding water is finally heard, it comes as a welcome surprise. Services in a nearby temple can be overheard, gracing the recording with an additional spiritual sheen.
In gathering these sounds, Dauby walked the shores of Peng-Hu, gathering objects and selecting locations in which to drop his microphones. On Side B, one hears what sounds like birds diving into the water to catch fish, but from the fish’s rattled perspective. These are some extremely aggressive birds, squawking like piping plovers warning predators away from their nests. It’s entirely possible that Dauby was seen as such a danger: an intrusive presence holding an unidentifiable device. The pebbles provide reminders of flow, reflecting the title, which means “cycles of tides”. A low hum offers the possibility of calm before a funeral march begins. Taken together, these two sources speak to the same subject: time and tide, life and death, all things tumbling over each other like debris in the waves, breaking, softening, and tumbling again. If this is the cycle of life, surrender may yield the greatest calm. (Richard Allen)