Here we are in the middle of a tropical storm, and I’m listening to the wind outside while writing about the recorded wind inside. This amusing confluence works to the tape’s advantage. The last two hurricanes have borne distinctly non-intimidating names (Gaston, a character from Beauty and the Beast, and Hermine, one letter away from a Harry Potter character). But R. Schwarz returns a bit of dignity to the destructive force, making listeners take heed. By adding modular synthesizer to these recordings (made during winter on the island of La Gomera), he rubs across the dark tones with darker tones of his own. During the conclusion of the first piece (simply titled “Wind 1”, the added electronics sound like evacuation alarms, pinging repeatedly, unheeded. At the beginning of “Wind 2”, it’s as if the warning systems are exhaling for the last time, no longer strong enough to carry on. They’ve done their part, and those listening will either have headed for higher ground or made a very costly error.
The storm is picking up, intensifying once again from tropical storm to hurricane, insulted that it has been downgraded and determined to teach a lesson. A siren surge appears in the fourth minute. In the end, the listener realizes that the howling wind has a specific timbre and harmonic resonance of its own. “Wind 3” clocks in at a purposefully chilling 13:13, taking its time to intimidate before eventually causing the speakers to overflow. Crackling precipitation arrives in the tenth minute, albeit briefly, as if reluctant to steal the sonic spotlight. The synthesizer eases; the wind subsides; the streets begin to fill as the neighbors venture outside to inspect the damage.
Wind 1-3 is one of three simultaneous releases for Audio.Visuals.Atmosphere, along with Sequences‘ gentle Event for Oceans, recorded on the Isle of Eigg, and the more foreboding Divorce by Alocasia Garden. While you’re on the label’s site, be sure to check them out as well! (Richard Allen)