A Sense of Place: From a Wind Turbine to Vultures (and Back) by Kate Carr [Flaming Pines]

How does one capture the essence of a landscape so as to describe it to another who has never been there? The vast majority of us would rely on words and pictures, but how many of us would think of trying to do this strictly with sound?  Not music, mind you, but sound. That is the unique perspective & artistry of the field recordist and there are few out there as inquisitive, resourceful, and discerning as Kate CarrShe has steadily built a creative practice around exploring both human and natural geographies.using field recording, experimental composition and sonic mapping. Recently during a residency at Joya: AiR in Velez Blanco in southern Spain, she decided to undertake a sonic transect of the mountain facing the villa where she was staying.

Over the next two weeks I lugged my equipment up and down the mountain, pausing every 100 metres to sample or attempt to ‘play’ a very precise and small location. In this way this release attempts to stitch together a mountain pass in sound, a succession of played and recorded sonic niches from the radio in the villa on the valley floor, to the vibrating low-growing woody shrubs braving the rocky peak…It is a quiet and strange document I think, which I hope conveys something about remoteness, and a sense of a physical journey through a very specific landscape via sound.” 

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A sense of place: Suddenly woken by the sound of stillness by David Evans [Flaming Pines]

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”.

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A Sense of Place: Kinbrae – Tidal Patterns [1631 Recordings]

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Kinbrae is a musical project from twin brothers Andrew & Michael Truscott, based in Edinburgh and Dundee Scotland. Having shared the stage with musicians such as Hauschka, Noveller and Lubomyr Melnyk and featured as session musicians on records by Scottish artists such as The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks and De Rosa, the solo project they have nurturing for the better part of two years will see its debut in the form of Tidal Patterns, inspired by a year spent on the Isle of Coll in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.

‘Tidal Patterns’ is an album that explores remoteness, seclusion and the feelings that these can evoke. It confronts the apprehension and doubt often experienced when starting afresh and escaping comfort zones as well as embracing new ways of life in an unfamiliar environment…The album makes use of the unique sounds that can be heard on the island, gathered through field recordings depicting the wildlife, culture and ambience of the remote region.

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A sense of place: Ólafur Arnalds – Island Songs

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Iceland’s dramatic landscape belies the island country’s relatively small footprint on the globe. Its breathtaking and mysterious beauty is inextricably woven into the music and literature of its people and draws travelers and artists from around the world like a siren call. But that is not the perspective of this magnificent place that Ólafur Arnalds seeks to present in his latest project. He gives us a much more intimate view by taking us into Iceland’s towns, church & concert halls, and living rooms and brings us face to face with some of its people.

Island Songs is a “living musical film” documented in real-time by director Baldvin Z in which Arnalds travels  to 7 different locations in Iceland – one per week – to record a series of new compositions in collaboration with local artists. It is an endearing portrait of an unique island not as landscape, but as a place of community, connection, collective memory, and shared creativity. It also yielded an exquisitely beautiful collection of songs.
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A Sense of Place: Agoraphonia – Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci [Dronarivm]

What a difference one letter can make. Agoraphobia is a paralyzing anxiety that causes one to fear & avoid crowds and open spaces. Change the ‘b’ to an ‘n’, however, and you have Agoraphonia, a neologism coined by Italian sound artists Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci for their latest project which is built around field recordings of public places from around the world and the resulting album about to be released is anything but anxiety inducing.

A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town and used for community gatherings. Based on this basic perspective, it is easy to notice how the soundscape of this living center could represent not only sonically, but also from a cultural point of view, a priceless document. After an open call lasted 6 months to send most interesting audio material concerning the theme of the “square” the samples have been selected and reworked in order to create an ideal symphony of all living squares all over the world.

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A Sense of Place: Celer – Two Days and One Night [Sequel]

No one freezes memories and life experiences into musical amber quite like Will Long.  His recordings under the name Celer always have a context and back-story that is essential to full appreciation of the work and never more so than on his forthcoming album Two days and one night in which he retraces and re-imagines the journey a great uncle who drowned in 1984 off the coast of Tunisia while staying at the Hotel Amilcar.

“In 2015, I retraced his steps from Tunis to Hammamet. Set part in fiction and part in reality, Two Days and One Night is both a document of my own experience and a re-imagining of what my great uncle might have heard and experienced 31 years before. It’s a shame he didn’t see the burnt orange sunset swirling over the horizon as I did on my departing flight at the end of the second day, but then again, maybe he did.” – Will Long

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A Sense of Place: Drombeg – Earthworks [Futuresequence]

Positioned on the south-western coast of Ireland, picturesque County Kerry boasts some of the regions most iconic scenery and ancient history. It also home to singer and musician Thom Brookes who introduced us to his ambient music project Drombeg last year with Notes From the Ocean Floor, an EP released by Futuresequence. Brookes has followed this up with a new full length album on the label, a more expansive and conceptually unified record called Earthworks which captures the sense of this very special place where it was made

A soundtrack for the middle-of-nowhere, the wild landscapes of Brookes’ native Southern Ireland are littered with historic (Tumulus), and geological (Béarra) structures hardened under the relentless elements. Sinuous string melodies, and tender piano phrases reach like sunlight breaking through heavy clouds, blended with electronics and field recordings in careful balance to produce a rich cinematic sound. – Futuresequence

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A Sense of Place: Tiny Portraits on Flaming Pines

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Flaming Pines label founder Kate Carr has developed a highly regarded and multi-faceted creative practice “centered on articulating the relationship between people and place through sound”. In addition to her own sound work, she has curated a variety of wonderful conceptual series, the latest of which has seemingly unlimited potential despite its ostensibly diminutive name – Tiny Portraits.

In Listening to Noise and Silence, Salomé Voeglin talks of soundscape compositions occupying a site ‘between preservation and invention’ – an attempt by the composer or field recordist to retain the essence of a site inevitably results via the processes of recording, composition and listening in the creation of somewhere new. Tiny Portraits asks each participant to dwell on these connections and disconnections between sound and place, representation and invention by starting somewhere small, somewhere overlooked or obscure, and to interrogate this site using sound. – Kate Carr

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A Sense of Place: Mark Lyken and Emma Dove – Mirror Lands

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Tucked into a recessed portion of Scotland’s eastern coastline, Black Isle is a peninsula that sits between the windswept Highlands to its north and the city of Inverness and the Great Glen to its south. The waters of the surrounding firths are traversed by dolphins, porpoises, seals, migrating whales, cargo & cruise ships, and fishing boats as well as serving as home to oil rigs. Its land mass is home to woodlands, rolling hills, farms, castles, and towns. The name possibly derives from a consequence of its mild climate which often leaves it devoid of the whiteness of frost and snow that may surround it during the winter.  It is a place which intertwines the threads of a multitude of narratives both natural and man-made.

Mirror Lands is a film and sound installation created by multimedia artist Mark Lyken and filmmaker Emma Dove that focuses on that place and those narratives. It was one of 14 projects across Scotland supported by Creative Scotland’s Imagining Natural Scotland initiative. Music and sound are both integral to the project which Lyken has referred to as sitting “somewhere between and art film and a documentary” and that part of the experience has now been extended into a soundtrack album artistically packaged and released by the creative hands at Time Released Sound. The key to fully appreciating this wonderful recording is first understanding the impetus of the film. Continue reading

A Sense of Place: Josh Mason – Hellified Irie [Fet Press]

joshmasonOn his newest album, Hellified Irie, guitarist and experimental/ambient musician Josh Mason distills memories of family and life along the beaches of Florida into an entrancing mix of field recordings, ambient textures and warm surf guitar sounds. The album is uniquely presented as a digital release accompanied by a 70 page art book of black & white photos and a journal kept while recording.

“Hellified Irie, at it’s core, is a ‘surf’ record both in tone and concept…the style and sound of the recording is an homage to the guitar-centric bands of the mid 60’s such as the Ventures and The Challengers as well as compositional techniques found in Smile-era Beach Boys material, which lends itself nicely to that theme of changing gears. Like a Wallace Stevens poem, it’s a meditative and philosophical sound. A sonic discourse from a deckchair that skates a line between imagination and the reality of every day.” – Josh Mason.

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A Sense of Place: Grasscut – Everyone Was A Bird [Lo Recordings]

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Everyone Was A Bird is the third outing for the duo of Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair recording as Grasscut. Each has an extensive musical CV – Phillips as a producer and composer of over 200 scores for film and television and O’Dair as a journalist, author, lecturer and broadcaster not to mention session musician – and their previous releases have demonstrated potent ability to blend electronica, pop, & experimental music with cerebral lyrics and heavy cultural references.   With the new album they have managed to raise their own bar even higher with the addition of live and orchestral elements and a compelling compositional framework. In short, it is a stunner.

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A Sense of Place: Mike Vass – In the Wake of Neil Gunn [Unroofed Records]

“We waved farewells until the ancient ruin on the rock shut out the white walls of the hotel and the figure of our hostess. Ten miles away Waternish Point lay low to the sea in a faint haze. We set a straight course for it and committed ourselves to our adventure.”

So begins the journey author Neil Gunn chronicled in his 1938 book Off in a Boat. Born in a fishing village in the north of Scotland and having just published one of his most pivotal and beloved novels, Highland River, Gunn voluntarily retired from a civil service career started in 1911, sold his house, bought a boat, and took a 3 month voyage around the Western Isles with only his wife as “crew” and his brother as “mate”.  In the years to follow, he went on to become one of the central figures of the Scottish Literary Renaissance.
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