Each Morning of the World ~ Oceanian PhoNographic Mornings

Another twenty weeks have passed, and another series of Each Morning of the World is complete.  For the past season and change, this wonderful, ongoing collection has toured Oceania, collecting sounds from various artists as it continues to paint a portrait of the early hours.  The consistency of Stéphane Marin ~ posting a new entry every Sunday morning ~ has been incredible, and the quality of the contributions remains high.

Thanks to Marin, I’ve begun to pay more attention to my own sonic mornings.  On the first day of February, the season’s first bird sung outside my window, a sparrow.  On the second day, the second ~ a mourning dove.  On the third, a pair of red winged blackbirds.  Then an ice storm, silencing the soundscape; today, no birds.  The busy soundscape of Gail Priest’s Australian backyard (“Morning Caucus”) is a reminder of the cacophony that awaits, currently softening in the Southern Hemisphere but ready to bloom in the north.

Robert Curgenven starts off the current series with the brooding “epilogue a frontier approached, its retreat a mirror.”  The track previously appeared as a bonus on They tore the earth, and, like a scar, it swallowed them.  One can hear hints of the Australian colonists, staggering about in the bush.  But after such dark beginnings, Andrew Skeoch hikes to “where the rainforest becomes cloudforest” to capture a rare recording of the Huon bowerbird.  Julia Drouhin’s fun “Décalage-Oreille” begins with happy children and ends with “a conspiracy of ravens” (a lot of ravens!), hurdy gurdy and human song.  Then the sweet, soothing sea, followed by an alarm and the creaking of landlocked metal, courtesy of Philip Samartzis.  Camilla Hannan, accompanied by Stephen Mase, travels through Papua New Guinea, and includes conversations about field recording while capturing ~ and later blending ~ sonic snapshots.  Five tracks, five moods, boding well for the rest of the release, which successfully challenges any expectation of “placid nature recording.”

Tired of birdsong?  Try batsong, a phenomenon caught by Jay-Dea Lopez in the charmingly named town of Mullumbimby.  The piece is a reminder that there is no such thing as a universal morning soundscape.  To one person these sounds may seem a comfort, to others a threat.  Laurent Pernice highlights the use of conch shells as a traditional “call between villages,” a far more charming means of communication than a text.  The presence of String Band makes this a natural closer, following the lovely guitar of the current closing track by Tristan Louth-Robbins.  This brings us to our only suggestion: a revised track sequencing once every series is complete.  This light revision would highlight flow as well as variety, making each installment sound more like an album proper.

This series complete, Marin’s ears have now turned to Southeast Asia.  Every Sunday morning, a new entry appears, the current series concluding in June.  Whatever day of the week, this is a beautiful way to start the morning.  (Richard Allen)

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