This is perhaps the sweetest story we’ve heard all summer, and it arrives as the season is starting to slip away. It’s the story of a young woman born blind who falls in love with the sounds around her, begins to record them, and pursues her childhood dream.
Under these conditions, Izabela Dłużyk‘s physical challenge becomes her gift. She has an extraordinary ear for unique and startling sounds, which makes her an excellent field recordist. Her writing also shows great sensitivity, and provides readers with an entry point as she describes “the mystery of fleeting moments, of sadness and hope brought by changing seasons”. The sounds on this album were recorded this summer in Polish forests, but as the flocks prepare to migrate, the sonic field has already begun to change. Given the date of release, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons to the human experience, as we trade the soundtrack of seas and skies, of vacation homes and amusement parks, for those of schools and jobs. Yet as we look back on the summer, we hope to do so with more gratitude than wistfulness.
What a boon, then, to have an actual soundtrack for one’s summer. This is what Dłużyk now owns and thankfully shares with the rest of us. Soundscapes of summer is an extraordinary collection of small, beautiful moments, beginning with the sound of storks that echo like bamboo and continuing through showers and shores. The album tracks are sequenced as a day, beginning at dawn and ending at sunset, the experiences of a season compressed into a 16-hour period and further edited into a single series of vignettes totaling just over an hour. This is the best of the best of what the artist heard during her visits to the forest, and one can hear a magical enchantment in the trees. The charming depiction of “Cheerful swallows” underlines the unity the artist feels with her surroundings. The swallows are happy, so she is happy, and we are happy as well.
A good story needs tension, and this one provides two types: one inside the recording, and one outside. The story inside the recording is that of the “Little June shower”, which agitates the young gold orioles as it begins to fall upon the leaves. The story outside the recording is that at approximately the same time as this recording was made, Dłużyk was attempting to raise funds to fulfill her childhood dream of traveling to the Amazon Rain Forest. With help, she might one day be able to record her beloved parrots in the wild.
And then suddenly the shower is over, and the cormorants emerge. Just as suddenly, the artist learns that her fundraising campaign has been a success. This November, she’ll be flying to Peru to visit the macaws. “I believe in dreams coming true”, she writes. The response to her story not only underscores her belief in dreams, but a larger belief in the goodness of humanity. This is a story we couldn’t wait to share. The icing on the cake is that Soundscapes of summer is also one of the best field recording sets we’ve heard all year. For the duration of the recording, we hear as Dłużyk hears: more acutely, and with more tenderness, than the average human being. A huge thank you to the LOM label for introducing us to this artist. (Richard Allen)