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 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.


Field Recordings No.1

The sounds of bird calls, foliage rustling in the wind or water lapping at the edge of a shore are experiences I cherish more than anything.  They evoke emotions that I rarely feel at any other time and seem to accompany vivid childhood memories of being outside.  I often ponder, if I had to choose between loosing all but one of my senses, which would it be?  Of course, when you loose one of your senses you are not usually the one who decides which sense is lost and in many cases, you are instead often born without them, never knowing what it would be like to live with them in the first place.  But, having been fortunate enough to be born with all of my senses and to experience them firsthand, if I had the luxury of deciding which singular sense to keep, for me, it would be hearing.

As someone who has yet to discover any inkling of musical talent within myself, I envy musicians.  The creation of music has to be the purest form of artistic expression.  Through its creation, an artist can guide you through waves of emotion with little more than the simple access to your ears; they can persuade on to you thoughts of happiness, sadness and anger; they can change your mood from one minute to the next.  They are able to convey what they feel into sounds, and, often, these sounds are able to convey those feelings back to the listener.

To combine the creative expression of music with the inherent sounds of our surroundings is to take those felt emotions one step further.

With this series of inspirations, titled 'Field Recordings', I hope to share music that I have found which features recordings of nature intertwined with the artists' musical expression.

"Listen to the Flowers Grow" is a remix composed by AES Dana of a track from Subgardens.  The track starts out with the sound of birds calling laced with an ethereal synthesizer and incorporates a woman's voice who calmly confesses: "I listen to the flowers grow, it takes time and I like it."  From there, the nearly eight-minute track picks up and becomes more layered, incorporating deep beats over airy, reverberating synthesizers, but all the while the bird calls continue to loop in the background - occasionally the music subdues to let the tranquility of the bird call shine through in its entirety.  The last minute-and-a-half of the track is almost entirely left to the resplendent field recording.



First Thoughts

This space will exist as a collection of thoughts - perhaps short stories and recollections of outings - accompanied by photos, inspirations and backstories on projects.  While my interests vary widely, its nature will reflect that of my portfolio - heavily biased towards the natural world itself and creative pursuits.