a closer listen

Ulf A.S. Holbrook ~ Borka (winds)

Borka (winds) performs a sonic miracle, transforming threatening sounds into active calm.  The 3″ is part of Flaming Pines’ Tiny Portraits series, now five sets and twenty discs strong.  As a pure reflection of place and time, it’s one of our favorites of the collection.

When one plans a seaside vacation, one hopes for clear skies, pleasant seas and a light breeze.  Many would be overjoyed to experience such conditions daily, with little variation.  Oslo’s Ulf A.S. Holbrook is different.  When a windstorm threatened to derail his vacation in Marušići, Croatia, he set up his recording equipment to capture the event.  What could have been a disruption became a thrilling sonic capture.  The irony: these violent sounds are being released before the hours of peaceful seaside recordings Holbrook had taken in the two weeks prior.

The short, shaped composition captures the electric thrill of a meteorological event, the sudden charge of ionic change, the “get out there or you’ll miss it” opportunity.  Holbrook translates the waves of wind into a sonic sibling of the waves of the sea.  Lulls alternate with rushes, growing ever stronger, in one brief portion (3:47) intimating thunder.  Each near-silence is deceptive, like an ocean trough; there’s always another surge on the way.  Those ocean waves make an appearance in the closing minute, lapping ironically in contrast to the great gale.

Home listening flips the script.  One hears the raging wind not as threat, but as comfort.  Instead of waves of wind, one experiences waves of white noise, the tactile encounter removed.  The dangerous event is tamed.  During the calm, a sneaking suspicion arrives ~ the nice day might not be as nice as once thought.  Multitudes of beautiful days tend to blend into one another, but the memories of one good storm can last a lifetime.  (Richard Allen)