To live in the Alps is to be immersed in natural beauty, and in riverside burrows, Abby Lee Tee translates this beauty into sound. A blend of field recordings (some from other locales) and gentle instrumentation, the two-part composition creates an atmosphere perfect for a gentle float down a summer stream.
While many associate the Alpine region with snow, summer temperatures nudge against 90F/32C. The colder months have already been covered in The Orb’s Alpine and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony; here we find an alternative. This 10″ teems with activity. One hears not only the expected birds, but pigs and otters, a particularly distinctive pairing. In a fanciful sense, the recording can be heard as a soundtrack to an otter’s swim, as seen in this video from 2015’s by accident. While it’s hard to guess what an otter might like to hear, one imagines a combination of playfulness and fluidity, which is what one encounters here. Wind chimes topple into pig snorts and drown in gentle ambient washes. The river flows; the showers fall. The artist performs a duet with nature, creating a soundscape that doesn’t exist in real life: a tranquil harmonic convergence. In the final minutes, his gentle tapping is accepted by the local birds, who continue to tweet, unperturbed.
To listen is to experience a contagious exuberance. Enraptured with his environment, the artist has managed to retain the wonder of a child. We can now appreciate the wisdom of our parents’ words: It’s a beautiful day; why don’t you go outside and play? Hearing such advice, many children think of their prospective joy in terms of the number of potential playmates. Abby Lee Tee offers a different perspective: that crickets and fish might fill that void, that the crack of thunder may be more exciting than the crack of a bat. As an adult, he still goes outside to play, where he introduces his indoor toys (xylophone, autoharp) to his outdoor toys (sticks and stones). These sonic photos are evidence that they all get along. The record release photos are taken in a strawberry field; the loop is complete.
Imagine now the wonder of a ladybug crawling on the finger; a family of raccoons in a hollowed-out log; a pristine spider web glistening in the mist. The music is alive with the sound of hills. One man’s appreciation of his local environment has become our appreciation of the world. (Richard Allen)