In one way or another, most field recordings choose to focus on the sound of nature and the local environment. This release mixes it up a bit. On From A Nearby Bay, the first field recording you will hear is the voice of Terje Paulsen. The Norwegian sound artist adds his own voice to the moody proceedings, and it’s a technique that thoroughly deepens and enriches the musical experience. His voice is itself a carefully inserted field recording; a sound as natural as anything else. Don’t let the ‘field recording’ tag let you think that this is an easy listen, because it’s anything but. In order to get the most out of the experience, you need to concentrate. And when you start to go deeper, you’ll realize you’re suddenly living in this strange, watery environment. This bay is more like Algernon Blackwood’s creepy tale The Willows than it is a serene expedition.
Amid the rustling debris and the lazy trickle of the stream, an odd, piercing alarm and a sudden, scratched mark leaves behind a dark blotch on the record, stained by its own mystery. Guttural passages lurk unexpectedly around the corners. A cold stream of drone trickles through, sometimes rising in volume and intensity, sometimes reclining back and then eventually abating. From A Nearby Bay is twenty-one minutes long, but a lot happens in that relatively short space. Sounds that you can’t quite place float around the intense, back-lit drone. The drone wraps around the sound of scurrying, and even tries to envelop the fluid stream, but the slippery grasp of the water always escapes. It’s certainly a mysterious recording, and it’s only when the sounds begin to rumble heavily that you start to question your whereabouts. The sound of a small plane flies overhead, but where is the bay? Nearby is a pretty vague response. And by the sound of the ever-present rattling, it may be closer than you think. We’re never privy to its precise location.
The chilling water drips and drips. Something clangs against the side of the little boat. Over time, the record calms down and the water relaxes. The sound leaves behind nothing but the rustling of the reeds. A higher-pitched drone pierces the music, but then, thankfully, it fades away. Feet stomp over the hard ground, creating their own boot-heavy, inconsistent rhythm. This is not your average field recording. The trapped fish have nowhere to go; the canals lead to dead ends. (James Catchpole)