Janek Schaefer – Foundsoundscape



You can always count on Janek Schaefer to come up with an original concept. After all, he started his sonic career with Recorded Delivery in 1995, posting a sound-activated tape recorder (technological possibilities were quite different then, mind you) and contributing the recorded journey of the package to the exhibition called ‘self storage’ curated by Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson. Since then, many interesting projects followed – some strictly conceptual, some musical, often some of both.

Foundsoundscape originally started in 2015, when Schaefer collected all sorts of environmental recordings from artists (and non-artists), which resulted in 100+ artists sending in recordings of 1000+ locations. All of these fragments were randomly mixed using three software players simultaneously so the combination would be ever-changing. And representing a non-existing sonic world, because it may sound like a familiar environment but it cannot exist in real-time this way.

The list of contributors is rather impressive. To name but a few: Brian Eno, Chris Watson, Pauline Oliveros, Hildegard Westerkamp, Christina Kubisch, Charlemagne Palestine, Phill Niblock, Stephan Mathieu, William Basinski, Maggi Payne, Rhys Chatham, Lawrence English, … well, I must stop here because otherwise, the list would be too long (just check the page for details).

But don’t expect musical contributions from these artists: there is no music here, apart from some fragments that were recorded on the street or in any other environment. This is, after all, an environmental soundscape, not a musical composition (although this is open to discussion).
It was inspired by a radio station that ‘simply played a recording of a rural location. Radio you could just leave running to add a peaceful ambience to your environment indoors.’

‘Using over 1000 calm & curious location recordings from all over the globe, captured by 100 recordists, the sounds were simply edited, and are played back three at a time at various volumes in shuffle mode, and the result is never the same twice. You often hear the edges of time as files begin or stop playing mid flow.’

It is not intended to actively listen to: no sane person will probably have the patience to listen to the full 24 hours. But it can be played in the background for a fresh sonic enhancement of your environment (and probably helps filter out unwanted outside noises).
It may be a nice experiment to play this on a separate system in your house (like a Bluetooth speaker instead of your main audio system, for instance), setting the volume quite low and then proceed to do what you normally do, so you can still play other music on your main system, too.
But be aware: this is not a single continuous environment like a 10-hour recording of soothing rain or things like that. It constantly and randomly changes sounds from all over the world, like switching channels on your radio. ‘A salute to serendipity and shared sonic space.’

Foundsoundscape.com is still online, though not in its original (randomized and endless) form: it now links to the 24-hour files on YouTube and Spotify. For offline listening, Janek Schaefer presents this download of 24 one-hour files that can be played in any random order.

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