Field Trip Day Four ~ Abandoned Landscapes

The abandoned landscape holds a particular allure for field recording artists, because an abandoned landscape is not an abandoned soundscape.  This point is hammered home (pun intended) by Rihards Bražinskis and Raitis Upens as they rattle around an old brewery, and by Sala, who investigates memories and imagines monsters.

There’s little of the expected brewery sound in Aldaris, which initially comes across as a romp through debris ~ the shaking of metal grated fences and tapping on empty metal canisters.  The brewery is empty, closed, abandoned ~ no more beer, no more community, no more laughter.  And as a result, Rihards Bražinskis & Raitis Upens are angry, upset and intrigued.  Now they are able to play in ways they’d never imagined, save perhaps in their most inebriated dreams.  And play they do.  Once they’ve finished with the gate, they enter the brewery itself, and are given access to the beer museum (which may or may not include samples of ancient brew).  The old kettles are put to good use: no longer containers, but percussion.   Then thanks to a recent renovation and incredibly good timing, the men are allowed to record the new brewery in action (during which time they are not allowed to break anything).  The pops, hisses and clanks that ensue are nearly sci-fi in nature, the machinery reflecting Riga’s industrial architecture.  But from this point on, the recording seems non-linear.  When seven minutes remain, we finally hear the beer.  One would like to imagine Bražinskis & Raitis Upens sneaking in after hours to play a little bit more, the result of too much celebration.  Even if the old Latvian brewmeisters would disapprove of such behavior, they would be honored by the fact that the duo combines old and new, museum and brew, building a bridge across the ages.


Memory is another form of abandoned landscape.  The old disappears or corrodes; we no longer remember what once was, or we forget the original meaning.  In scare me notSala (Audrius Simkunas) returns to his childhood and insists he is not afraid (although we know he is, because we are).  First we hear the birds, then the bass; he didn’t crawl into that dark canister, did he?  He did?  Oh no.

As the artist writes, “kid’s memories haunt like wild hounds, persecute in dreams and execute their unknown goals till the final bell tolls.”  It’s not just that childhood is filled with dark imaginings, from the swaying curtain to the monster under the bed to the bully at school, but that terrors such as these persist over time, growing more abstract and powerful as they lose connection to their genesis.  scare me not, writes Sala, scare me not.  To listen to this hour-long set is to remember those early, primordial fears as well as to experience a sense of generalized anxiety, as the scratchings and dark drones imply that something may jump out of the sonic field at any moment.  And pounce it does, 34 minutes in.  But then it goes away ~ which some may consider worse.  Where did it go? is an effective tension-builder in horror films, and the same is true here.  We know that Sala made it out of that tank, but part of him is still in there, waiting for the claw on the shoulder.  (Richard Allen)

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