The album begins with a tweet ~ what we might call a “classic” or “original” tweet, before the name was co-opted by humans. This contrast is a metaphor for our relationship with the environment, underlining the danger of giving our hearts to technology. Ironically, it’s technology that allows us to hear this tweet ~ and the subsequent tweets, the rumbles, rapids and roars ~ in such a compelling manner. The Memory Room is the record of a field recording workshop in Eifel National Park (Belgium) organized by Chris Watson and Mike Harding. A great generosity is shown by including the names of the seven participants in the credits (which explains that very long list at top).
There is no “hard border” in the area, which has changed hands numerous times and been the site of much hostility. Today it is a calm, in-between land, home to myriad non-human species who certainly wondered what all the fuss was about. As part of the wider Natura 2000 network, the park is home to endangered species and protected habitats. Visitors must tread lightly, although no such protections have been extended to audio pollution, a challenge to the recordists. But this doesn’t stop them from having a bit of fun, as heard in a segment of clanks and clunks, later culminating in what sounds like a marble being rolled across the floor. It’s as if the team (seen below) are experimenting with making music of their own before giving in to the music already present.
The cover and title are intriguing, implying not only the memories inherent in land (blood, bodies, conflict, sedimentary layers of history) but the memory of land by people who spend too much time indoors: the memory room being the place outside the constructed space, the open door an invitation. Once we step through that door, time stops ~ or rather, time enters its own timelessness. The tweets become cries, the birds comfortably singing by the stream. One imagines these artists sitting quietly, drinking it all in.
The soundscape ends where it began ~ with a tweet. One need not press “Like” ~ the better reaction is to open one’s own door and begin to explore. Memory rooms are everywhere. (Richard Allen)