MARTINA TESTEN & SIMON ŠERC – EKODUKT
First, a word of warning: this album contains no music. Unless, of course, you define music as ‘organized sound’ (like Edgar Varèse said).
In this ‘forest bathing for the ears’, Martina Testen and Simon Šerc capture the sounds of the Slovenian Goriška region and the Italian Friuli Venezia Giulia, between sunrise and sunset, and then comprise these sounds into a two-hour mix. It is interesting to hear the forest sound palette change over time: starting with the birds, then hearing the frogs and crickets take over later on the day, and then the return of the birds when sunset nears.
It is a very refreshing sound to play in the background of your own environment. It is also a bit confronting since it made me realize that a rich and lively fauna like this, a place where you hear no human-made background noises, is almost impossible to find in my country (Netherlands).
Ekodukt is a continuation of Biodukt from 2020, which apart from an album also culminated in immersive installations. The sound recordings were part of the thesis by Martina Testen: ‘Analysis of the influence of the sound environment on customer behavior’.
Ekodukt is released on Blu-Ray disc, which means you can enjoy the two-hour soundscape uninterrupted, but also has the accompanying video, taken from the installation, which is probably as beautiful as the sounds (I haven’t seen the video but I have no doubts about that). If the sounds are enough for you, there’s also the audio-only digital download.
NATASHA BARRETT – RECONFIGURING THE LANDSCAPE
Also created entirely from environmental recordings, but with a completely different intention is Natasha Barrett‘s aptly titled Reconfiguring The Landscape. Barrett has built herself quite a reputation as a composer of 3-D audio and ambisonics, ‘treating spatialisation as a musical parameter’.
Reconfiguring The Landscape is her ‘artistic research project investigating how 3-D electroacoustic composition and sound art can evoke and provoke a new awareness of our outdoor sound environment’.
She does so in three (remixes of) installations and a two-part work, Impossible Moments From Venice.
‘Capturing reality seemed impossible’, she says about recording the sounds of Venice. That also accurately describes the soundscapes she creates: the sounds are familiar enough, but together they seem to re-create a different, non-existent, and dreamlike world. A different reality, strange yet attractive. A world filled with sounds of incredible clarity, even when the mixes merge an 8-channel installation into 2-channel stereo.
“I’m really concerned with the idea of tangibility. Sound is invisible, but we can do things that make you want to reach out and touch it.”
DORIAN WOOD – EXCESIVA
I assume you have probably asked yourself many times how an environment would sound if you could listen from within an empty milk jar. If you did (ánd if you didn’t): Dorian Wood provides the answer.
For this recording, the milk jar and microphone are placed ‘near a dilapidated old amphitheater on the grounds of the MacDowell Artist’s Residency in Peterborough, New Hampshire where Wood was a resident in the fall
of 2022, and captured the afternoon unfolding around its borders. Bird calls echo against the glass, filtered through the wind, which carries also the distant sounds of hunters’ guns, and the rustling of oaks at the base of Mount Monadnock’.
This may sound like a somewhat strange starting point for a 44-minute sound recording, but in fact the result can be very satisfying, at least for those that can ‘still themselves long enough’ to hear the far away details. It is a sound that wraps around you like an isolation tank would do, a way to shut out all other sounds and drift around, focusing on your own thoughts.
Excesiva is mastered by Lawrence English and released (digital only) on Yann Novak’s Dragon’s Eye Recordings label.