To some, Rand/Beach may seem out of season, released in the heart of winter. But when the blinds are closed to the white, and a fire dispels the cold (currently 1F/-17C), the sounds of the shore are evocative, enticing and hopeful. Would one want to play the sounds of the beach after a day at the beach? Perhaps not, because one has had one’s fill. But after a day of shoveling and scraping? Listening is like seeing a flower in the snow.
A perfect companion piece to Kuku!, which provided the soundtrack to a summer park, Rand/Beach is one of the most pristine recordings of its type. Not a single human intrusion is perceptible. The waves push forward and fall back. They bubble and swirl. Sand grains retreat, then pile up again. Tide pools twirl as water wraps around rocks. No wind is apparent, nor are any waves violent. There’s just enough action to feel the movement, but not enough to surf. (We’ll leave that for another recording.) One can imagine sitting, or walking, or even lying in the soft waves, allowing them to create rivulets around the body. The irony is that the album was recorded at night under a cloud-filled Estonian sky. Rand/Beach is an incredibly peaceful recording, exuding a sense of calm that can soothe a troubled soul. (I’ve tried this on a friend, and it actually works!)
Once again, the album comes with a design-your-own-cover option, which is a lot of fun should one decide to use the stickers. This playful opportunity adds to the positive nature of the recording. The inner jacket of the CD contains a timely coloring option as well.
While we’ve reviewed Taavi Tulev primarily as a field recordist, the artist has also produced over a decade of work as an electronic artist. A retrospective, self-titled collection has just been released on vinyl, and can be previewed and purchased below as well. The sense of peace is still apparent, although the pulses, melodies and occasional beats add timbres of wakefulness. “The Dark Past of Cocoa” is the newest and most percussive piece, graced by handclaps and a dramatic tension that befits its title, while “Halting of State” is the most fully-orchestrated, falling into the field of modern composition. Together, these two releases demonstrate the artist’s versatility, and each offers welcome warmth for these long winter nights. (Richard Allen)