Last autumn Flaming Pines released the first installment in their new Tiny Portraits series, “small renderings of place in memory and sound” by ambient & experimental artists from around the world that took us to a volcanic island in Japan, a street corner in Hanoi, a square in Athens, and a quiet park in Tehran (read the ST review here). Each one is a kind of sonic interrogation by the artist in response to the questions that drive the project.
“Sound and place are two terms often thrown together, but what actually connects the two? Sure places sound differently, or may shape the sounds that enter them in particular ways but in what ways is sound actually able to capture and convey place? Is place something to be captured at all?” – Flaming Pines
How far and wide the series will go remains to be seen, but it is a welcome sign that an excellent new quartet of works is now available from artists representing Hungary (Peter Turner), Latvia (Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva), Russia (Foresteppe), and Ukraine (Gamardah Fungus).
Tiny Portraits Sampler
Sound Meccano + Jura Laiva – Andrejosta. Rudens Vilcieni (October Sketches, 2015)
At the rail road near the harbour, the cargo train makes a manoeuvre and moves very, very, slowly. Sometimes you can hear every little detail. Closer to the riverside, port cranes are loading ships that come from abroad, and if you’re standing on the narrow groyne, that is located opposite, you can listen to the soundscape with natural reverb. These sound sketches makes a little picture of tender October in Riga in 2015 – Sound Meccano, Riga, Latvia
I found this to be a particularly immersive piece as Mirva Tarvainen’s double bass weaves a thoughtful narrative against the backdrop of Jura Laiva‘s delicate guitar & piano textures and Sound Meccano‘s sound treatments and maritime field recordings so vivid one can almost smell the salt air and diesel oil.
Peter Terner – Endless59
At their end station in the hilly suburbs of west Budapest, the trams of line 59 have to go around in a small circle before heading back towards the city. While doing so, they squeak and creak loudly as the wheels graze against the rails. This recurring noise is without doubt the signature sound of the place and depending on time of day, topography and weather, it can even be heard 1-2 kms up the hills. – Peter Terner, Budapest, Hungary
The fascinating thing about this piece is the lack of any perceptible instrumentation as Peter Terner discovers music can be found in the rhythm, timbre, and texture of the noises made by the tram and the bustle of the streets.
Foresteppe – туман (Tooman)
The piece in english transliterates to tooman, туман is Russian for fog. This is a little piece about fog in the town where I live. The town is called Berdsk. I have compiled rather different field recordings – industrial sounds of hammering beams and local folklore ensemble to show the dual nature of life in Siberia. – Foresteppe, Berdsk, Russia.
Foresteppe forges a hauntingly beautiful and surprisingly emotive work with a sumptuously grainy, crepuscular drone that lends a certain poignancy to the the field recordings he captured and the juxtaposition of modern industry and timeless folklore. Quite a lovely piece.
Gamardah Fungus – Mysterious Carpathians
The Carpathians and all Western Ukraine is the most incredible part of our country. And we chose this location to compose because it reflects in the best way the real atmosphere of the Ukraine. It opens the heart and soul of our country – singing, welcoming, with beautiful nature and huge mountains, with pleasant people, who store and honour ancient traditions and with unique sound environment full of various birds, cracking trees, whispering and a mystical flavour in the air. – Gamardah Fungus, Slavske, Ukraine
A contrast to the urban and industrial sounds featured in the other entries, the Ukranian duo of Gamardah Fungus take us into the countryside as they combine the sylvan sounds of nature with shimmering, moody guitar textures that evoke both the pastoral beauty and mysterious wonder of being among the vast Carpathian mountains.