Field Recordings No.2

Just as the environmental sounds that surround us when we're outside help to influence our feelings and emotions and act to serve as important markers in our memories, music can help to reflect our feelings or bring out new emotions hidden away.  While we might not remember specific details of where we may have been at a specific point in time, we might remember the music we were listening to and the feelings we felt, the smell of the air - along with its humidity and temperature - and maybe who we were accompanied by.  Music - or quite simply, sound in general - sets the mood.

'New Moon' by Daniel Bachman starts off slow with the sounds of crickets and katydids calling in the night.  A drone picks up as the recording progresses - sounding not so different from the ambience of cicadas joined in synchrony on a hot night - that seems to quiet the mind.  Several times throughout the song, the guitar comes to a lengthy, drawn-out twang, sometimes even halting altogether.  And yet, the sedative pace seems to provoke thoughts and images; if you have the patience to listen, one can easily hear the story being being told - the journey as it unravels - or you might just be able to imagine your own.

This was one of the songs that came on while on a recent trip through Appalachia.  Surrounded by the massive hardwood forests and the ample sounds that echo from within them - the crickets, katydids, cicadas and birds - it was hard not to think about my love for the forest in general - a place where I find a sense of belonging, where I can breathe unhindered, and where I often fear to leave.  It was a bittersweet feeling; on the one hand, it felt like home - like I had arrived at home - and yet, I was not staying, just passing through.

                                       Monongahela National Forest, Appalachia

                                       Monongahela National Forest, Appalachia

'New Moon' feels like a longing for the past - a deep nostalgia for what was - with an acknowledgement of the passing of time in the direction of what is, or will be.  It reminds me of the hot, humid nights spent in a tent in Appalachia; the birdsong echoing in the woods just beyond; the hush symphony of cicadas, crickets and katydids as I fell asleep; and the smell of the deciduous on the cooling breeze.  It is the beckoning of the forest, when I am hindered from joining in response.  It's a story of my love for these things, full of feelings and memories not quite realized, capped with an open ending.