As we wrap up our five-day field trip, we travel into unfamiliar territories ~ mysterious lands marked by strange and unsettling sounds. Your guides for these journeys: Luci Forcucci, Yannick Dauby & Hitoshi Kojo and smallhaus.
Luca Forcucci was given an unusual challenge for his journey into The Waste Land ~ to compose a film score based on an unidentified six minute field recording. He rose to the challenge by splicing, repeating, expanding and layering his source material until it became wholly his own. This title piece is now truly its own entity. But the album’s B side is even more stunning. “My Extra Personal Space” is a complex soundscape that travels back and forth between the streets of Paris and the Normandy coast, allowing for bizarre juxtapositions ~ helicopters and church bells, kicked bottles against streaming water. And then there are the birds. Usually when one encounters birds in field recordings, one experiences them as a joy ~ not so here. These birds seem to have flown directly from a Hitchcock movie. Throughout the mix, they emerge and retreat, watching from the trees and planning their next move. A dog is not enough to frighten them away. For one brief moment, the lapping of waves implies safety, but then the birds return en masse. In this wasteland, no one is safe.
Earlier this week, we reviewed Yannick Dauby‘s solo record. Now he’s joined forces with Hitoshi Kojo to present an evocative soundscape. Drone Records’ ongoing Substantia Innominata 10″ series specifically includes works “inspired by the unknown”, which makes La Vie dans les Airs & dans les Eaux a perfect follow-up to the last installment by Kreng. Instruments sound strange alarms, sometimes like foghorns, others like mating calls. Found objects ~ animal, vegetable or mineral ~ are stroked, struck and thrown. On “La Vie dans les Airs”, the ruckus culminates in the cries of a mechanical cat in heat. The set’s human element is underlined by the interaction with bells, the natural element by the sound of flowing water. A closing crash and choir lends intrigue to the transition. The second side begins with gong and unnatural water, and grows stranger from there, albeit more alluring. Dauby writes that while recording, it seemed that “lifeforms were emerging from the land”. As these sounds crackle and crunch, squeal and squall, listeners can imagine this very thing. But these are no ordinary, benign creatures ~ what hath God wrought?
On the last day of our field trip, it rained a deluge of granular synthesis, a downpour of intense feedback. smallhaus‘ unweather combines actual weather with its emotional impact, combining field recordings from London and the Isle of Mull with tape loop and drone. Every so often the clouds clear and the birds come out ~ friendly birds, unlike those encountered in The Waste Land above. These seem to sing of kinder weather, less tumultuous times. And when the warm guitar jumps in, we are reminded that that while we cannot escape the storms, we can survive them, and sing again. Midway through Side A, a surprising dance tempo emerges, unlike anything that has come before; might this be a rain dance? By the end of the track, the drones have again conquered the sound field. But more importantly, by the end of the tape, the two forces have learned to live in balance ~ an intentional lesson with real-life applications. David Little (smallhaus) writes that the album is “about storms, personal, political, and literal”. No storm lasts forever, and this one ends in peace. (Richard Allen)