Ká returns to the Bohemian Forest for The Remaining Wrinkles, although it’s not the same Bohemian Forest, in the same way as one never steps twice in the same river. There was once a proud forest here, but deforestation has stolen chunks of its vast beauty. When combined with droughts and urbanization, the fellings have left only echoes of childhood memories, generations picturing a forest that is no longer there, searching for clues in the debris: a familiar brush, a turn in the path, a gnarled trunk. As the artist writes, “As these old parts of land are missing, the memories hidden in them or irradiating from them are falling into oblivion. I try to keep them in my music and experience.”
And so these are live birds, but not always; the artist has preserved their sound, but modified them electronically in order to imitate the damage the bulldozers have on the land. Some species have moved on. Others are decimated. Others are only remembered. We hear this birdsong not as we would in the forest, but through gauze, like the reminiscences of a grandparent. This is where Ká finds his title: the remaining wrinkles in the earth are like the familiar reminders of a face, in one sense ravaged, in another simply worn. Ká writes that “the original, authentic voice fades,” so he seeks to preserve it in mid-decline. A distant owl claims the sonic space left from a passing airplane. A dog barks in the distance. Footsteps approach; now the dog is closer, agitated. Other dogs begin to bark as well. Is this our response to intrusion? If the trees had made such sounds, might we have saved them?
And then there is rain in Egmont, and we love the sound; but now we think about runoff. Without the roots, flooding can occur. The grasses may miss their nutrients, the animals their grasses, the humans their animals. The damage returns to those who caused it. An orchestra begins to play, sounding an unintentional elegy.
The richest and longest track, “A Mystery,” unfurls a rich soundscape, a tapestry of all available life. Multiple species claim sonic territory. This immersive biophony is unlike those most of us encounter in everyday life, highlighting the importance of the forest, not just for bathing but for preservation. It’s one thing to go to the forest for psychic blessings; it’s another to fight for the forest, to be proactive rather than placid. Ká likely calls this “A Mystery” because it’s mysterious, beyond our ken, a place both familiar and alien, so far are we removed from the forest existence of our distant ancestors. In contrast, “Der Musikhunger” sounds decimated.
The self-explanatory “The Birds at the Mass” hammers the point home: there is holiness here, if only we can hear it. And “Figaro in Wood” implies the question, are the birds a distraction to the music, or the inspiration? What happens to music if there are no birds? (Richard Allen)