Spring has sprung and the Easter bunny has arrived, which makes this the perfect week for a field trip! We start our journey with rail sounds from David Evans, visit ships at port with Adam_is and drive across the American South with Crow Versus Crow.
To those who are traveling by train this week, Suddenly Woken By The Sound of Stillness may make an involving accompaniment. David Evans‘s railscape seeks to blur the boundaries “between documentation and creation, actuality and imagination.” To listen while traveling is to place a layer of artificial time atop real time. Evans’ triptych is a necessary truncation, but manages to make all the right aural “stops”: the farewell at the gate, the rhythmic chug, the creaking between cars. While one is listening, one experiences the drone-like blur of gazing through a window until all the shapes blend into one, then focusing on a single facet of the landscape until the concentration flickers. The journey stretches from Beijing to Moscow, but casts a universal spell. Were it not for the occasional dialect or musical encounter (as at the end of the first piece), one might imagine this train traveling across one’s own nation. The sound is sedate, lulling, conducive to sleep ~ if only one has remembered to bring the right pillow and book. But at 5:47 of the second track, one is suddenly woken by the sound of stillness. Where are we? Have we arrived? Not yet ~ feel free to rest a little longer. In Moscow, you’ll be greeted with holy song.
Embracing the Light achieves something rare in field recording. Certain sounds are considered “Holy Grails” in the industry, as they are unique to time and place. The Epiphany celebration in the port of Piraeus is one of these. On January 6, ships at port blow their horns in such a way as to create a musical piece that comes across a series of drones or an improvising brass band. The horns seem to blow in response to the tolling of bells, creating a dual-toned effect. After many years of unsuccessful attempts to capture a pristine recording of this event, Adam_is finally succeeded in 2017, and now we are the beneficiaries as well. Originally released as part of the compilation Recognition is the Beginning of the Cure, the track now exists on its own, and shines even more brightly as a single work. To listen is to marvel at the very existence of the event, and to consider attending in subsequent years.
Crow Versus Crow‘s States was originally sold as a CD3″ with zine, but the whole thing’s now available in digital form. When one thinks of the American South the summer before last year’s divisive election, one may picture anger, racism, an imaginary border wall. But when one hears the actual sounds of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia, one catches only the softness of night, the peaceful crickets, the passing of cars on their way to unknown destinations. Only a radio preacher breaks the comfort ~ a sad irony given the circumstances. A place has a soul to which we assign definition and value or lack thereof. Yet nature’s borders are far different from our own. The collective may not intend to be political, but ends up political by default. Fortunately, the message is that underneath the surreal and disturbing lies a world that seems at peace with itself. Consider this the opposite of Blue Velvet. (Richard Allen)