Traversing the ancient trade routes and vast landscapes of Asia via the legendary Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways is rightly considered the trip of a lifetime by many. One of the oft-selected itineraries runs from Beijing to Moscow by way of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and the Russian city of Irkutsk, Siberia’s gateway to the west. While many have documented this grand excursion in words and pictures, Melbourne-based musician & field recordist David Evans presents the experience from a unique sonic perspective on his new album Suddenly woken by the sound of stillness. Constructed from recordings captured on a trip taken in 2015, it is an aural document that traverses not only geographical boundaries, but the abstract territories which the artist describes as exploring “ideas of memory, movement and place, and the boundaries between creation and documentation”.
The album consists of three tracks which cover the three main segments of the trip – Beijing to Ulaanbaatar, then to Irkutsk, and finally to Moscow. Evans retraces the journey with a focus on the rhythms & cadences of train which burrowed into his consciousness over those vast distances.
“Tones and textures followed the speed of the train, drawing a different line of sound depending on whether it was on a straight path or moving around a bend, slowing down, taking off or speeding up. Movement and sound became attached, so that when the train came to a stop at night while I was asleep, I was suddenly woken by the sound of stillness” – David Evans
Evans masterfully distills this experience over the course of forty minutes, immersing us in the sounds of the bustling stations, exotic urban cacophony, and the gently percussive, repetitive patterns of wheels rolling across the tracks until we find the sudden presence of silence as starkly conspicuous as he did. Suddenly woken by the sound of stillness is found music shaped and molded into compositions that capture the ear and the imagination and is set off beautifully by a brief, but lush final coda of haunting choral outro which serves to ensconce the journey in our memories – a most unique and affecting sonic sojourn.
Suddenly woken by the sound of stillness is now available on digital and limited edition handmade gatefold CD (100 copies) from Flaming Pines.